DOVER, Del. — Even though the traction compound used last weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway had minimal impact, Jimmie Johnson said that NASCAR should continue to try it at tracks where it is needed.
NASCAR did not use the traction compound PJ1 Friday at Dover International Speedway. The compound has been used at Bristol and Charlotte. Last week marked the first time the compound had been used on an asphalt track. It was added to the upper groove in the corners after the All-Star Race had three lead changes in 70 laps.
“I think that the traction compound is the next thing to try,’’ Johnson said Friday at Dover. “And I’ve said this a lot of times: The garage area has been forced to make a lot of changes to create competition or honestly, parity. And it’s just crazy for us to think when we have cars running the same speed, all 40 cars within such a small window of time, that we can expect any passing on the race track. So, we need other lanes on the track to pass.
“We need tires that wear out to create comers and goers. So, with that, I didn’t see anything negative from the traction compound. We’re learning. Do we wish it provided more side-by-side racing? Sure. It’s a tricky track in general. I didn’t see anything negative that came from it. If a track owner/operator isn’t willing to resurface and kind of redesign, then why not? I think there is something to try here and we will figure it out if we keep playing with it and we keep trying it and develop the process.”
Johnson said that applying the compound might work in Turn 3 at Pocono Raceway — where the series heads next weekend. He compared it to the asphalt patch that was added there in 2008. Drivers adjusted their line to run through that patch because it provided extra grip.
Johnson admits PJ1 won’t be effective at some tracks because there’s not enough room off the corners for drivers to run side-by-side. So it likely wouldn’t be effective in every turn at Pocono, particularly Turn 2, the tunnel turn, which has a narrow racing line.
Johnson said the traction compound didn’t work as well at Charlotte because the track already provides enough grip.
“At Charlotte, there’s not much wear,’’ said Johnson, who ran out of fuel while leading with two laps left in last weekend’s race. “You put traction compound down on a grippy surface to start with; you’re just adding a little bit more grip to a lot of grip. But if the bottom doesn’t have much to start with and you reward the guys on the outside with a considerable amount of grip, then you’re going to have a better chance of competitive passes and side-by-side racing. So, again, it’s something that we have to develop.’’
Matt Kenseth, who finished fourth, said he didn’t notice much of a difference with the compound at Charlotte.
“It seemed like the middle groove was the best groove most of the day,’’ he said. “I kept my track position most of the day, so I never really got passed a lot and I really didn’t pass a lot of cars.’’