With circuits still being turned at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the first hours of a two-day Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company tire test resulted in praise by three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers as Goodyear prepares the ultimate tire for the Speedway's Labor Day NASCAR night racing weekend.
Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard and seven-time Atlanta pole winner Ryan Newman are assisting Goodyear with the test and each offered positive comments on the tire and day one of the test.
The drivers were unanimous in exclaiming the tire used in March's Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway was among the best-ever raced at the track in recent years. However, tire temperatures remained a concern during that race.
"So far, so good today," said Newman, who is tied for the pole record at Atlanta with his mentor Buddy Baker. "We were as close as we have ever been in Atlanta in the spring, but we did have a couple of right-front temperature failures so we're trying to knock the temperature down."
While day one of a Goodyear test can be revealing, Newman explained that much of the day was spent setting base conditions for further examination during the test's second day.
"We were getting a good base line doing some 10-lap runs and getting some feel changes with different constructions, compounds and different tread thicknesses that they have," said Newman. "We're just getting a feel for everything as Goodyear is collecting their data. We're trying to figure out what tires run best and run the coolest."
Menard agreed with Newman regarding the positives of the March tire.
"They have a control tire that we raced in March and that tire is good," said Menard, who finished fifth in the 2010 Kobalt Tools 500. "They have a couple of other compounds and constructions we are working on, but its going to be hard to find anything better than we had, but they are working on it.
"They're trying to get some heat out of the tire and make it live a little bit longer," added Menard, expanding on Newman's comments on temperature issues. "Some guys did have tire problems, but the majority didn't – I think we know why some of the guys had problems and that's too much camber – and we're trying to help those guys, but for the majority of the field we were pretty happy with what we had."
Testing will continue through 10 p.m. tonight. Goodyear tire testing will continue tomorrow at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the event is closed to the public.
The biggest Labor Day party in the USA is at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Labor Day weekend, as the NASCAR Sprint Cup stars head to the high banks for night racing on Sept. 4 and 5. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (770) 946-4211, (877) 9-AMS-TIX, or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.