NASCAR teams test flaps to reduce spray at Richmond wet tire session

0 Comments

Three NASCAR Cup teams tested mud flaps during their wet weather tire test Monday at Richmond Raceway, but Joey Logano said those only “helped some” in reducing the spray of water a car emits.

Logano, Chase Elliott and Christopher Bell took part in the second NASCAR test of a wet weather tire on an oval. 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 regular racing tires on.

Last weekend’s Cup race at Circuit of the Americas in the rain showed how blinding the rooster tail of water off cars could be and contributed to multiple incidents.

Kevin Harvick was eliminated in a crash when he was slammed from behind by Bubba Wallace, who could not see because of the spray. Harvick called racing in that situation: “The worst decision that we’ve ever made in our sport that I’ve been a part of, and I’ve never felt more unsafe in my whole racing career. Period.”

Logano said all three teams at Monday’s test had different variations of mud flaps common to trucks.

“The mud flaps kind of adjust the spray, but it doesn’t completely eliminate the spray,” Logano said in a media session Wednesday morning. “So we need to try to figure that out, but I think the biggest thing we realized is when we put slick tires on it — the slicks were obviously very slick, the cars were undriveable — but there is no spray.

“So that means it’s coming from the tread on the tires. So maybe there is a less aggressive tread pattern that allows us to have grip — we need that as well — but maybe can eliminate some of the spray.”

Teams tested the rain tire used last weekend at COTA. Monday’s test was the second on a short oval. Kyle Larson and Chris Buescher tested wet weather tires April 1 at Martinsville Speedway.

“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,” Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing, told NBC Sports last weekend 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.”

All that calls into question if Goodyear could have enough wet weather tires available, if needed, for the next Cup race on a short oval — July 18 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. If not then, the next Cup race on a short oval would be Sept. 11 at Richmond Raceway. That is a playoff race.

Would Logano have a problem with the tire being used for the first time in a playoff race, if it came to that?

“Before we talk about what race we’re bringing it to, a playoff race versus regular races, we first have to figure out how to make it safe enough to be able to see where we’re going,” Logano said. “That’s the number one priority. 

“Once you fix that, I’m fine with racing it wherever. If we feel confident that the tire is gonna stay in one piece and not come apart, and we feel confident we’re gonna be able to see and not gonna have some freak crash like we had last week, have at it.”