As an elimination race in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup, Talladega Superspeedway holds the key to advancing to the next round. For the 12 drivers still in contention for a championship, that’s not a comforting fact. Although Talladega is a fan favorite, it will likely be one of the most unpredictable races of the Chase. That’s because 500 miles of high speed “pack racing” at the superspeedway can sometimes make luck a serious factor in a driver’s finishing position.
For Goodyear, however, the variables affecting tire performance are well known. As one of only two superspeedways on the NASCAR schedule, Talladega is synonymous with speed. The 2.66-mile tri-oval carries drivers to average speeds of more than 200 mph—which are limited with restrictor plates, used to reduce the engine’s power output. The surface is also more aggressive than Daytona, with rougher asphalt translating to a higher rate of tire wear.
These factors make endurance a major consideration in Goodyear’s tire development at Talladega. Higher speeds place more load on the tires, while the dynamics of pack racing (cars bunched up in a pack because of the limited top speed) often lead to drivers sliding in and out of the corners.
To deliver superior performance in these extreme conditions, Goodyear has developed a tire combination unique to Talladega. The left side tire was engineered specifically for use at superspeedways (Daytona and Talladega), and features a softer compound to give drivers the grip they need at sustained high speeds. The right side tire features a harder compound than what’s used at Daytona, to handle the wear of the more aggressive surface. Both use tire constructions that have been reinforced for use at sustained high speeds.
Heading into the NASCAR race at Talladega, fans will be on edge of their seats as they witness cars racing up to four wide. Add in high speeds, tensions of championship hopes on the line, the possibility of “the big one,” and it’s easy to see how many variables could impact the race outcome. Luckily, one thing drivers can count on is the expert engineering behind their Goodyear Eagle race tires which will carry them to the finish line.