Whether you are a first timer, or you’re experienced behind the wheel, many drivers find themselves asking which tires are the best for their vehicles. Whilst it is of course important for us on the roads, even the most minute of differences are integral to determine for NASCAR drivers.
That is not to say that if you are driving on the roads that you don’t need the best tires available. Whilst they may often be expensive, you can find some great deals on tires that leave you feeling safer on the road and less light in the pocket.
The tires on a NASCAR race car have some imperative requirements. They must remain stable at very high temperatures and speeds, provide incredible traction and be able to be changed very quickly.
With an average speed of 200mph, these decisions are not just a matter of first or last but potentially of life and death. This is why many NASCAR teams remove the air from tires, instead pumping them with nitrogen.
The Pressures Of The Track
Nitrogen contains less moisture than compressed air, meaning that when the tire heats up it vaporizes and expands to allow the pressure to increase. By being able to control the amount of pressure in the tire, drivers are able to better control the handling of the car.
The level of inflation is also different on each side of the car due to the G-force that the car and drivers experience. As the most force is put on the right side of the car due to the left turns, handling up to 4000lbs of pressure, these tires are inflated to 45 psi with the left inflated to 36 psi.
The track that drivers are racing on also plays a part in the choice of tire. Tracks that are longer than 1 mile require tires that contain an inner liner so that should the outer tire blow over the longer distance, the inner can allow the driver to bring the car to a controlled stop.
NASCAR itself regulates the material the tire is made from for both inside and outside tires. A softer material provides more grip but wears faster whilst a harder material lasts longer. The wear on tires of course depends on the track which is why NASCAR have decided the best materials for each individual track.
Now one major difference between the tires we see on NASCAR vehicles and our own is of course the treadles design of the tires. This is because tires actually generate more traction on the dry track due to the sticky rubber, which is why races never take place in wet weather.
All tires for use on NASCAR vehicles are eventually tested by drivers and their teams. Goodyear, the official tire manufacturer for NASCAR, and NASCAR select drivers from four teams that will participate that season in one or more of the three top NASCAR races that season.
The engineers from each record the tire temperatures, wear and many other parameters using telemetry. The data they record is taken to be analysed where they will check the suitability of the rubber polymer that is used in the tread of a tire.
The tread compound mast last from one refuelling to the next and must be near on worn out by the time a tire change comes. This allows the team confidence that they have value for money for their tire.
After all this research, NASCAR and Goodyear decide which tires are best for each individual track. Once this is decided teams cannot modify tires, however they can swap with other teams.
This article should give you a great understanding of just how important of a process it is for NASCAR teams, drivers and for Goodyear to choose their tires. One of the most thrilling sports in the world requires tonnes of measures to make sure we can all enjoy the action.