AUSTIN, Texas — Joey Logano, Chase Elliott and Christopher Bell each will take part in a wet weather tire test Monday at Richmond Raceway, another step toward Cup cars running on an oval in damp track conditions.
This follows the April 1 test that Kyle Larson and Chris Buescher did at Martinsville Speedway.
Monday’s test a Richmond will be with the same rain tire used this weekend at Circuit of the Americas.
“That’s what worked the best at Martinsville,” Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing, told NBC Sports. “We thought the easiest thing for everyone was just to move forward with the rain tire as we know it today. We felt like that as well as it worked at Martinsville, the next step up would be the Richmond, Phoenix, Loudon (New Hampshire) bracket.”
This project by NASCAR and Goodyear envisions races resuming from rain delays quicker. A wet weather tire would allow cars to be on an oval track before it was dry. Once the track was dry, teams would pit to put the regular racing tires on.
One of the key questions for Logano isn’t as much about the tire but the spray on running on a wet track.
“The hardest thing, I think, that all of us have to deal with is vision,” Logano told NBC Sports. “A road course is just spread out. You put everybody in a big wad (on an oval), I think that’s going to be the hardest thing to get a hold of. Is it racing in the rain or racing in the damp?
“(Saturday in practice at COTA) going down the backstretch here, you can’t see, and you’re going to 160-something, 170 mph and you literally can’t see from here to the garage (50 feet). That’s with just two cars in front of you. What happens when there is 30 cars out there? I don’t know. It’s one thing to get the cars driving well in the rain and the tires lasting and all that, it’s another thing to understand what the spray is like.”
Stucker said the plan is to have all three cars on the track together during the test to check how much spray there is and how that impacts a driver’s vision.
Even if the test goes well, it appears less likely that Goodyear could have enough wet weather tires on standby for the July 18 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The challenge is logistics. Goodyear typically makes tires about three months before an event. With so many rain tires being used this weekend at COTA, it has depleted that compound’s inventory.
“We proved to NASCAR at Martinsville that technically it will work, but now you’ve got the operational side, you’ve got the logistic side,” Stucker said of a wet tire on an oval. “How many sets are you going to want us to bring? In case it rains and then it dries, are we going to go back to them again? We’ve got to work through all that.”
Teams are testing a day after racing at COTA because Richmond Raceway had limited availability because it continues to be used as a vaccination site.