A lot of discussion and talk heading into this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series season opening race at the Daytona International Speedway is obviously the debut of the Next Gen car in it’s first official points paying race.
See, the Busch Light Clash was technically the cars’ debut, but that was on a one-off track in the LA Coliseum and in an exhibition style format. Now, it’s real. This is Daytona. This is the first “real” race of the Next Gen car.
But, one part of the equation that’s flying under the radar too is Sunday’s 64th annual Daytona 500 will also be the debut on the newly designed Goodyear Eagle race tires for the first time in a points-paying race too.
The new tire incorporates an 18-inch wheel diameter, an important component of the stockcar’s performance capabilities, aesthetics and ability to function more like a passenger sports car.
It also features shorter sidewalls, a 1.5-inch wider footprint and a softer tire compound, which will give drivers better grip than the Gen-6 predecessor, exclusively used in the Cup Series 2013-2021.
Goodyear collaborated closely with NASCAR, race teams and drivers to ensure optimal tire performance at more than 25 racetracks, from superspeedways to short tracks.
An engineering undertaking two years in the making, Goodyear’s NASCAR Next Gen tire closely mirrors its high-performance tire for passenger cars. The body designs of the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Ford Mustang and Toyota TRD Camry – the three stock cars featured in the NASCAR Cup Series – will also mimic their showroom counterparts more directly.
“Incorporating an 18-inch bead diameter tire was an important factor of the NASCAR Next Gen design, performance capabilities and aesthetics,” said Greg Stucker, director, Race Tire Sales and Marketing for Goodyear. “Creating a low-profile, street-inspired tire for Cup Series racing was a significant accomplishment that required coordination throughout the entire NASCAR racing community.”
Setting it apart from its 15-inch predecessor used exclusively in the Cup Series from 1997 to 2021, the new tire features a softer tire compound and an inch and a half wider footprint to help give drivers enhanced grip on the racetrack. Importantly, Goodyear designed the shorter sidewall of its NASCAR Next Gen tire to help withstand the sustained duty cycle of oval racing.
The NASCAR Next Gen tire’s development consisted of a rigorous testing process, including thousands of testing miles, simulations with the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and in-lab research and development conducted by Goodyear Racing engineers. Alongside the OEMs, Goodyear collaborated closely with NASCAR, race teams and drivers to help ensure optimal tire performance at more than 25 racetracks, from superspeedways to short tracks and road courses.
“Goodyear’s NASCAR Next Gen race tire is integral to the vehicle system and is the only component that physically connects the Next Gen car to the racetrack,” said John Probst, NASCAR senior vice president, Racing Innovation. “Goodyear’s endless engineering and collaboration throughout the testing and development process has been absolutely critical and continues to help drive the sport forward.”
This is a massive change from what’s occurred in the past and even changes the way these cars will be pitted. The five lugs are also gone and with the single lug system, it changes everything with how pit stops are handled. In fact, tire can be changed much faster and much more efficient. So much so, you now have a strategy in place on how long do you wait on fueling the car?
This all is a massive change and one that will help carry the sport to new heights.
The 64th annual DAYTONA 500 is Sunday, February 20 at 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX. Aerial coverage will be provided by Goodyear.