Jane Miller: Testers find soft tire is too soft; hard, too hard
Those intrepid tire testers hit the track at Indianapolis again on Wednesday but, unfortunately, they didn’t have any great news to share when they were interviewed Friday at Richmond.
“I would say it was a small gain,” said the Chevrolet representative, Ryan Newman. “It was a small gain in respect to the number of laps we could run. The tires still are not ideal.”
The problem is somewhat like the story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.”
The hard tire is too hard; the soft tire blisters. But they still haven’t found one that’s just right.
“The soft tires rubber the track up, but then they blister when you get running too fast,” said Matt Kenseth, the Ford representative. “For some reason, the hard tires don’t have enough stick to them and they don’t stick to the track and they just turn into dust. So it’s been a little bit of a struggle.”
Those two drivers, plus Brian Vickers and Reed Sorenson, have done the bulk of the testing recently. A larger test, which is supposed to be the final trial, comes in mid-June.
The tire they tested this week lasted 18 laps, up from 10 a week ago.
“But the tire life itself is still less than a half of a fuel run,” Newman said. “It is just a tough situation, man. We spent the first part of the day cording tires then the last part of the day blistering tires because they weren’t wearing. We just have to find the happy medium. It is really tough to do with four cars, but I think it can be done.”
The final test will be run after the Indianapolis 500 on May 27. Newman thinks that may make a difference.
“It is going to be interesting to see what the track is like after May,” he said. “If the IndyCar tires have a good effect or a bad effect or no effect at all on what we do in June to help the race track out.
“It is just a matter of finding the right tire and right tire combination to go with that asphalt -- because that asphalt is so coarse -- and ground that it is difficult.”
This is a lot of extra work for these drivers, especially since two of them were in serious wrecks just a few days before. But the memory of last year’s fiasco is still fresh in their minds.
“The bottom line is, last year was an embarrassment for the Series and the fans, and we need to redeem ourselves,” Newman said. “Whatever we have to do to do that should be considered.”
He meant it
Carl Edwards, who appeared on a multitude of national TV shows this week after his spectacular crash at Talladega, hasn’t backed down from his strong post-race remarks from last Sunday.
“We’ll race like this until we kill somebody, then they’ll change it,” Edwards said minutes after his car flew into the catch-fencing.
“That’s how I felt and that’s what I believe,” he said Friday. “I also believe that there are things that can be done. We’re all in this together — NASCAR, me, the owners, all the other drivers. No one wants to see anybody get hurt, but I think what I said needed to be said and that’s how I felt at the time, and I hope people respect that.”
Among Edwards’ non-television appearances were a visit to the NASCAR offices in Daytona Beach for a meeting about the Talladega accident, and a visit to the teenage girl who was the most seriously injured spectator.
Carl Edwards’ wrecked car has already been cut up, but team owner Jack Roush let Matt Kenseth keep his mangled Nationwide Series car.
“He said, ‘You can have that piece of junk,’ ” Kenseth said. “Those were his exact words. I’ll take it.”
Practice begins this week for the 93rd running of the Indianapolis 500.
The first on-track activity is rookie orientation on Tuesday. Practice begins in earnest on Wednesday, with pole qualifying scheduled for Saturday.
In my opinion, practice days are just as much fun as the qualifying days — it’s less crowded and there’s just as much, or more, on-track action.
Admission for practice days is $5. Admission on the four qualifying days is $10.
Either way, it’s a bargain and there’s nothing like spending a beautiful spring day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Jane Miller is the Journal Star motorsports columnist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.