In racing, a track’s surface is one of the most important variables that a driver must take into account because it directly affects the performance of both the tires and vehicle. And while it seems logical that a rough surface would be challenging for tires, smooth asphalt can be just as punishing because it brings its own unique set of challenges—including higher speeds and high heat.
Due to a track repave in 2012, Kansas Speedway has one of the smoothest track surfaces on the NASCAR circuit, which translates to higher speeds. In preparation for the Hollywood Casino 400 this weekend, teams must anticipate how the faster speeds on this smooth track surface will affect their race strategy.
One way teams will use this surface to their advantage is by setting up their cars very low to the ground. Using this approach, drivers can effectively minimize the amount of wind going under their car and push most of the air over the top of the hood to increase downforce, which will further increase their speed.
But while a smooth surface and lower ride height help make a car faster, the added speed results in increased heat and stress on Goodyear’s Eagle race tires. The smooth track surface brings a combination of higher speeds and a lower rate of tire wear than other tracks. Additionally, the car’s lower ride height reduces airflow around the tire. All these factors make managing heat buildup in the tire a critical factor.
Like they do at every track, Goodyear engineers developed the tires for the Kansas race with these grueling conditions in mind. They study the surface characteristics, car setups and track conditions to develop a tire combination that can deliver superior performance on race day. As a result, Goodyear’s right-side tires for Kansas feature a harder compound to manage the heat buildup. This is paired with a softer left-side tire to provide drivers with the grip they need to make it through the turns.
At Kansas, fans can expect to see the 12 Contenders battle it out for a guaranteed spot in the upcoming Eliminator round. Their race strategy to handle the higher speeds and heat buildup on their Goodyear Eagle tires will certainly be a factor in this week’s performance.