The racing product at short tracks, particularly at Martinsville, has been a major source of scrutiny with the Next-Gen car. NASCAR appears to be taking one last Hail Mary this season with a new tire compound to be run at Martinsville this weekend. Will this tire compound make a difference in the racing product at Martinsville?
What Tires Are They Bringing?
The tires were tested at Richmond Raceway back in July, which was a highly anticipated short-track package test. The results were not exactly what NASCAR or the drivers hoped, but the last tire tested did have some of the desired results. Noah Gragson gave his thoughts to Bob Pockrass after the test on the impact the tire had.
You really had to search around and find where your car was good. You could follow pretty well. Tucked up right behind somebody felt a little bit more like super late model short track racing where you could stay right behind a guy and kind of move him up out of the way and drive underneath him.Noah Gragson
Now, the test did not solve all of the problems, but the tires seemed to have good results from this test. Now, this was tested alongside changes to the splitter and the rear diffuser being removed, so, will it have the same results from the Richmond test? Better yet, will this actually work?
Haven’t We Seen This Movie Before?
It seems that at almost every short track race this year NASCAR brings in a new gadget to help the short track package. For one race it is new tires, while for another race maybe it’s a slight aerodynamic change. NASCAR hyped up their short track test before the season, but the results have not been what many have hoped for.
Every time that drivers are asked about the short track package seemingly, they talk about the short track package. Denny Hamlin gave his thoughts on what to change, and nothing had to do with the tires.
Ultimately, it is a “Wait and See” thing, but, it is no guarantee that this will work. Then again, Gragson’s comments about cars following each other are encouraging. If the cars can more easily follow and get close to each other in the corners, it could allow drivers to be more aggressive in the corners at a track like Martinsville.
However, the tires were theorized by Hamlin as something that could help. He posed this theory regarding tire saturation on an episode of Actions Detrimental following the North Wilkesboro race. Essentially, to paraphrase, the more a tire has to saturate to create grip, the more that running in dirty air affects tire wear.
Maybe this tire solves that issue to some extent. If it does, then this race at Martinsville could see more variable tire falloff along with closer racing. It may not solve every problem, but it could work.
At the end of the day, it could be a worthwhile experiment for NASCAR since it is a relatively easy fix. NASCAR will not be able to make wholesale changes for the final two races of the season, so, this is the best they can do. If it helps solve the short-track racing product, then it’s a good thing. If it does not work, then NASCAR has an entire offseason to try to figure something new out.