The Rubber Met the Road
Mother Nature pulled back the curtain of fog and an armada of track dryers got “The Magic Mile” ready for a special tire test with five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers.
Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Bobby Labonte, Paul Menard and Regan Smith waited out the showers before putting on a show for the fans at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. technicians took over the speedway for the day to test new tire compounds for mile-track setups. It looked like the weather might spoil the fun, but the clouds lifted and the lights went green just before 2:00 p.m. The test is expected to continue today as long as there is day light and no rain.
“For me, this has been a really tough racetrack,” explains Carl Edwards. “This test is one I can be excited to be a part of because it gives me, as a driver, an opportunity to figure this place out a little better and as a whole team get a little better.”
Edwards gave the die- hard fans an extra thrill by strolling over to the catch fence along the front stretch to talk to visitors and sign autographs. Then he joined the others in the garage and began what turned into a couple of hours of realistic race conditions.
Each team brought a duo of cars, to offer different set-ups for the tire test, although it may have been a little tricky to figure out who’s who. Style points don’t matter in critical tire tests like this one, the first of its kind held in New Hampshire in several years.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s car was primer grey, with no numbers or markings. Edwards’ first car had the big 99 emblazoned on the side of his Ford, but his back-up car was pure white without any distinguishing marks. Paul Menard’s primer grey car had a touch of green on the roof, otherwise he drove somewhat anonymously.
The goal is to help Goodyear, but the drivers’ motivation is far more personal. Especially for Edwards, who says New Hampshire Motor Speedway is hugely important as the second track in the Chase. “”My goal is selfish. I want to do something that will make our car go faster. But today, the main goal is for Goodyear to get the tires worked out so we can provide the best racing possible for the fans.”
The test results will remain a trade secret, but fans won’t have to wait long to see if the tire compounds improve the race quality at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns July 15th, for the LENOX Industrial Tools 301. For more information or tickets, visit www.nhms.com or call the NHMS ticket hotline at (603)783-4931.