|Biffle was fastest of all Friday.|
Greg Biffle capped a day of skyrocketing speeds and unofficial track records with a fast practice lap at 204.708 mph. Four drivers – Biffle, Marcos Ambrose, Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards – topped 202 mph, and 14 turned a lap above 200. Amazingly, 43 of the 45 cars eclipsed Ryan Newman’s current track record of 194.232 mph, set in June of 2005.
Combined with ambient temperatures in the mid-80s, the sizzling speeds created tires issues for several teams, prompting Goodyear to change left-side tires for the remainder of the weekend. New, harder tires will be shipped in from Charlotte, NC, today, and NASCAR has scheduled an additional practice session to follow Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series event. Sprint Cup qualifying will take place as scheduled at 1:10 PM ET, meaning that teams will qualify on one left-side tire and race on another.
Goodyear Director of Race Tire Sales Greg Stucker said "about a quarter" of Sprint Cup teams experienced blistered tires Friday; all on the left side. High speeds were expected in the aftermath of April’s tire test on the newly paved oval, but not to the degree seen Friday. “Obviously, we're running significantly faster than that now. We knew it would be faster, but not quite as fast as it is.”
He said the blistering issues are “definitely heat-related… aggravated by particular setups. That's why we're seeing it predominately on some people and not at all on others."
|Hamlin: "Tire wear will subside."|
"As much as I give Goodyear a hard time about their hard tires, when we've had these new-paved race tracks, they've done an awesome job matching the surface to the tire," he said. "I think once the race gets going, the right-side wear will subside. It typically does. It's something we can tune on… and the race will play out very similar to the way it did at Pocono."
Harvick said, “It's either going to come down to the race track getting more rubber on it and the speeds slowing down, or (teams) slowing down and managing the pace to keep tires on the car."
Biffle said that during his fast lap, “"The car stuck to the ground really well. It actually wasn't that hard to drive.”
Rodney Childers, crew chief for Mark Martin’s No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, said via Twitter last night what the MWR teams will alter their set-ups to reduce speed, in an effort to extend tire life.
NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers have also posted record speeds this weekend, paced by Joey Logano’s fast lap at 189.773 mph. There have been no tire issues in the Nationwide garage, and their “Alliance Truck Parts 200” is scheduled to take the green flag at 3:45 PM ET today.
Photo Credit: SI.com, zimbio.com