NASCARâs next-generation race car will also feature a radically different tire.
Instead of the 15-inchÂ wheelÂ currently in use, Goodyear is targeting an 18-inchÂ lower-profile option that will debut alongside the Gen-7 car in 2021.
Itâs worth noting that Formula 1 is moving from a 13″ to an 18″ wheel next season.
Goodyear director of racing tire sales Greg Stucker told Autoweek over the weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway that the decision had less to do with competition and more in the pursuit of showroom vehicle aesthetics.
Ford currently uses the Mustang in Cup Series competition, while Chevrolet uses the Camaro and Toyota the Camry. None of these production models feature a 15-inch, high-profile wheel and tire combination as consumers prefer the look and handling characteristics of a lower profile sidewall.
As a result, this is the direction NASCAR and Goodyear has targeted in the pursuit of race cars that have greater resemblance to their showroom counterparts.
“Without a doubt, that’s part of it,” Stucker told Goodyear. “We’ve had these discussions for several years. In fact, we had developed and tested a 17” tire back in 2015 and fairly successfully, might I add, on the car as it was at that point.Â
“And it was decided not to move forward. It wasn’t the right time to do it. So certainly, we had some knowledge of it. We had a taste of it back then. So now the time is right and the relevance to road cars is an important piece of it.”
Stucker said itâs too early to predict how the tires would correlate with any individual rules package because NASCAR has yet to unveil the next-generation race car. It is believed that the car will be an extension of the current high downforce and low horsepower rules packages, especially since it will feature a new 550 maximum horsepower engine formula that will debut in 2022.
In theory, a wider tire means increased mechanical grip and the capacity for Goodyear to establish a little more wear with a higher downforce race car.
“One of the reasons we’re going in a wider direction is to try to maintain the volume within the tire, right? There was a certain amount of contained air volume in the tire today that helps us carry the load of the race car,” Stucker said.
“And obviously if we’re going to now take up some of that volume with an 18-inchÂ wheel, then where is the load-carry capacity gonna come from? So that’s one reason why we’re trying to go wider in order to increase the load-carrying capacity of the tire itself.
“Will that result in more grip? I think that’s all part of the whole race car, right? That’s not just going to be the tire itself. It’s going to be, you know, the suspension geometry, so on and so forth — a result of the whole package.”
Stucker also praised the continued collaboration between Goodyear, NASCAR and drivers as they continue to work towards a middle ground between aesthetic styling, entertaining races and a raceable tire.
“I think the industry as a whole is probably working together more than it ever has,” Stucker said. “I mean, at least on our side, I think the whole project of going to lower downforce that we initiated back in 2015, taught us how to do this.
“I think we have a very good relationship with NASCARÂ and with driversÂ and with the teams. Are there different opinions? Absolutely. We have different opinions than some of them do sometimes, but I don’t think anyone is necessarily always right.
“So, I think, you know, if you try to cooperate and work together and come with the best solutions, that’s the world we live in.”