Goodyear confident of new Darlington tire should NASCAR make aero changes there

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – A Goodyear official says the company feels good about the tire it will use if NASCAR institutes aero changes for the Sept. 6 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway

Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart took part in a Goodyear tire test Tuesday that used the same aero package that teams will try next weekend at Kentucky Speedway. Because the changes were announced so close to the Kentucky race, Goodyear did not have time to match a tire to those changes. Goodyear will for the Southern 500.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, confirmed this week on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that the Southern 500 could be the next race with a different areo package that officials hope will infuse passing throughout the field.

Greg Stucker, Goodyear director of racing, said he was pleased with this week’s test.

“Walking out of there on Tuesday afternoon, we didn’t see anything from a temperature perspective or a wear perspective that sent a big alarm to us,’’ he told NASCAR Talk. “We feel like we’re in pretty good shape from a tire perspective.’’

Stucker said the aero changes slowed lap times by about one second but the softer tire allowed drivers to gain that second back.

“That was our goal,’’ Stucker said. “We were trying to replace the aerodynamic grip with the mechanical grip from the tires.’’

A softer tire will lead to more wear at Darlington. That could bring back the old Darlington where teams pitted for four tires during every caution in the race. Stucker says it’s already that way.

“I went back and looked at our reports from last year’s race and there was well over two seconds of give up in a 50-lap run,’’ Stucker said. “That means in 20 laps if a caution comes out, guys are going to take four. We were running (at the test) in the low to mid-90 temperatures. It’s going to be that way on Labor Day when we get back there, but you’re also going to have more cars on the racetrack. There’s going to a significant amount of give-up.’’