Scuffs for insurance

A crew member for Jeff Burton, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, works in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 15, 2012 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images for NASCAR)

BROOKLYN, Mich. — The blazing speeds at Michigan have caused issues with the Cup tires for about 25 percent of the competitors. To counteract blistering of the tires, Goodyear and NASCAR agreed to make raceday tires available to teams so that drivers could scuff them in — in other words, run minimal laps on the tires and then allow them to cool.

“I think it’s just a little bit of insurance,” said Greg Stucker, manager of race tire sales for Goodyear. “Everybody respects a repave, particularly at a place like this that is so fast. I think if you have the option to do things that give you that little bit more insurance on race day, I think people pursue those.

“At a repave, the racetrack itself has so much mechanical grip that you don’t lose anything with a scuffed tire from a grip perspective. There’s no penalty to pay, so why not go ahead and do that?”

In part, teams saw blistering because speeds were far in excess of what drivers ran during an April tire test at MIS.

“We ran about 36.4 (seconds) in our test,” Stucker said. “That was our fast lap, and, honestly, we’re running significantly faster than that now. Again, we knew it would be faster, but not as fast as it is. The blistering is definitely heat-related. It’s aggravated by particular setups. That’s why we’re seeing it more predominantly on some people and not at all on others.”

Mark Martin pointed out Thursday afternoon that he had blistered three left-side tires and one right side. Kevin Harvick had issues with blistering on Friday, as did Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr. and Martin, among others.

“We got with NASCAR at the end of the day (Thursday), thought the wise thing to do would be to make the race sets available to the teams, which we did before (Friday) morning’s session so they could scuff tires in,” Stucker said. “Obviously, putting a few laps on, putting a heat cycle in the tires toughens the tire up a just little bit and makes them a little more heat-resistant.

“We felt that was a good tool to give to the teams and let them take that option if they so chose to do that. We continued to see some blistering in this afternoon’s session, so obviously we’ll be sitting down with all the teams and trying to understand what they were doing at the time and try to understand what we can do to try and help the situation. The tire is comfortable. It’s a good package. The racetrack is good, and we’ll just try to work through that.”


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