Aug 30, 2013, 9:59 PM EDT
This weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway, NASCAR Sprint Cup squads are using a new right-side tire from supplier Goodyear that combines two separate compounds across its surface.
Dubbed “zone tread” technology by Goodyear, the tire utilizes a harder inside shoulder for heat resistance and a softer outside portion for added grip.
The inside compounds are the same as the one used at Michigan International Speedway this year, while the outside features a compound that has been used in recent events at Atlanta.
The “zone tread” tires were used as part of a 13-team test at AMS earlier this month and have been tested at other tracks. But Sunday night’s Cup race will provide the toughest task to date for the new tires – 500 miles on one of NASCAR’s fastest and most abrasive circuits.
“Atlanta is one of our biggest challenges from a tire perspective,” Goodyear general manager of worldwide racing Stu Grant told The Associated Press. “The abrasive surface causes extremely high wear, while the length and layout promote very high speeds.”
“What we’ve done here is take a specific rubber compound and limit the application to the inside shoulder, and then have a more tractive compound across the rest of the tread.”
Goodyear has utilized the “zone” concept on its passenger tires, but Sunday’s Advocare 500 will mark its first use in NASCAR competition.
When asked about his thoughts on the new tire, Stewart-Haas Racing driver Ryan Newman felt that Goodyear was using “a common sense approach.”
“Here at Atlanta, it’s the best worst-case scenario for that because it is the toughest track we have on tires,” he said on Friday. “The strength of that zone tread tire is the durability side of it. The biggest part of the durability side of what we do is the inside shoulder of the right front tire.
“I think, all that being said, I hope there are no issues. The reason they’re doing that is so there won’t be any issues because this new [Gen-6] car is definitely the most challenging we’ve had on tire durability.”