One More Lap – Tires At Indy

Is there a tire that can work at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Sprint Cup Series? Listening to drivers and those in charge of NASCAR, one would have to wonder.

An apology has been released by NASCAR’s Vice President of Competition, Robin Pemberton, “I can’t say enough how sorry we are, and it’s our responsibility being NASCAR that we don’t go through this situation again. We’ve already got after it, and we’re moving forward with a plan to get ahead of the situation so we don’t go through this again. I think it deserves to be said that the race didn’t come off like we had hoped. The fans didn’t get what they exactly wanted, and we’ll do everything in our power and it won’t happen again, I can tell you that much. So we’re going to put a lot of effort towards it and get a better plan moving forward.”

Listening to Pemberton just after the race was a bit of a different story. When asked if an open test would have been beneficial, Pemberton explained, “I don’t think an open test here would have done enough for what we all as competitors would want to have achieved. It wouldn’t have helped I don’t think.” Then, in the very next answer, Pemberton seemed to confuse an already complicated issue by saying, “I think coupled with the new car, probably not having a test here, whatever, probably didn’t help us at all.” So then, which is it, to test or not to test. One would think that the top minds in NASCAR should know if having an open test is important or not.

The situation is obviously not resolved with an easy, quick solution. There are many issues that all combine to make the answer difficult to find. While the track remains the same, testing in the temperatures of April may not produce the same results of a race in the heat of late July. Testing with three cars will certainly not put down the same amount of rubber on the track as a full field. With the current car still in its infancy, teams are still adjusting to setups that are probably much different than what had been tested in April. Then, throw in the fact that the drivers themselves may not be able to decide what they want to run on and the solution seems to be very far away.

Giving the true driver’s perspective after the race, Denny Hamlin commented, “I think they said during the tire test they had some other tires that did wear better, but the drivers didn’t like ’em. They were too hard. So had we come here with a hard tire, then you’d have all the drivers complaining about the tire’s too hard, you can’t race. I think it’s just a tough balance. To tell you the truth, I don’t know what tire they would be able to engineer to go a full fuel run here. It would take a tire probably so hard that, I mean, we’d probably spin out every lap.”

So, what will NASCAR do? The testing policy for next season is still being worked out and should provide some answers to how important test sessions are. Also, the use of an independent test team would go a long way to showing that the parties involved are serious about resolving the tire issues.

Although the solution may be difficult, the hope is that the view of the race winner isn’t shared by many.

When asked to compare his win with the infamous Formula One race at Indianapolis in 2005, Jimmie Johnson said, “I guess I’ll have to see what the fans’ reaction is. We had short runs without a doubt, but I felt like there was a lot of good racing today. I’m not sure what’s overall impression is from the fan base. I don’t know who won that race with six cars, but the trophy is sitting at his house and he’s a happy man. This (trophy) is going to be sitting at my house and I’m a happy man. Both made a million bucks, too.”

A million dollars may make the race winner happy, but the race on Sunday did not please the fans. And, aren’t the fans number one in the eyes of NASCAR?

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