No matter how many times you race on a particular race track, there are always new challenges to deal with. Just ask Ryan Newman.
The Richard Childress Racing driver said today that a new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rules formula for 2014 has made the line between peak handling and “in the wall” much finer than in the past.
“It seems like the cars are really, really sensitive to changes,” said Newman, who holds a degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University. “The cars are so stiff now (that) once you lose it, you really lose it. It’s more aerodynamically-related at other race tracks, but here (it’s) more mechanical-related.
“There’s a lot of grip,” said Newman. “(But) once you lose that grip, it’s kind of gone. (You’re in) a full slide. And you have to run it right there on the edge to feel it.”
Newman also revealed that Goodyear has brought a significantly different tire to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend, and that the softer tire compound “does seem like it’s going to give up more. It definitely is marbling-up way more than we’ve seen any Goodyear tire marble-up in the last few years.
“From what I understand, it is the Loudon left-side tire, which is not anything at all like a concrete tire that we’ve run here in the past,” said Newman. “It’s definitely different. I don’t know what it’s going to do for the racing, but it definitely is marbling-up.”
He said the presence of marbles – small pieces of sloughed-off rubber on the racing surface – is challenging for drivers.
“Marbling-up is not a good thing as far as… giving us the ability to use all of the race track,” he said. “When you get up into the marbles, it takes two or three laps to get back going again. That’s sometimes 20 or 30 positions. You want to have the confidence in the race track and your race car to be able to put it anywhere, so you can pass at any time.
“The track is pretty narrow, so giving us the ability to move around is a good thing.”
Newman said those marbles may force drivers to search for new lines around the race track, particularly late in a run.
“If they blow the race track off and we go straight to the top like we have done here in the past, it won’t be an issue,” he said. “But as of right now, it’s laying a lot of marbles and we’re running the bottom to the middle. The top third of the race track really is marbled-up.
“I don’t know if it’s going to be an issue, but it has more potential now than last year.”