Brad Keselowski makes his 150th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start on Sunday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway and if things go the way they are supposed to, it will be in an event that changes the way NASCAR drivers race going forward.
Goodyear will be debuting brand new tires on all the Gen 6 Sprint Cup cars this weekend in the Advocare 500 and BK believes that the new tires are going to be a major development for the sport.
"I wish we could properly relate the importance of this new tire to our fans,” Kes said. “In my opinion, this is one of the most important advancements for our sport to come along in some time. I truly believe that it has the ability to change our sport in a positive way and Atlanta will be our first race with it."
The change may be difficult for fans to notice, but the rubber, featuring Goodyear’s “zone tread” technology has the potential to be a revolutionary move for the sport. According to BK, the new tires will change how drivers are able to push their new Gen 6 machines—ultimately making for a major improvement in the on-track competition.
"The Atlanta tire is the next generation Goodyear effort to improve our racing," BK said. "This is the future of our sport. It has is two zones of tread on it. You can’t really see it, but the inside part of the tire has a hard compound on it that puts out a lot of durability and keeps the tire from failing. The outside half of the tire has a very soft compound. That gives the car grip, but also gives it falloff."
As Brad tells it, falloff is extremely important when it comes to strategy, as well as the ability of the drivers to pass on the race track and in turn, and put on a good race.
"Falloff in tires is what allows drivers to use different strategies and techniques," he said. "It also allows you to pit late in the race and still be able to drive through the field and put on side-by-side racing that our fans love. I think it’s really great and really a big moment for our sport, because it has the potential to really up what you see on the racetrack as far as quality racing."
No. 2 crew chief Paul Wolfe added to Brad’s sentiments, explaining the technical differences in the tire and how it will affect each race.
"It gives teams the durability in the tire to do things they did with the (old) car and not change," Wolfe said of the new Goodyear tire. "If this dual tread concept allows them to build a tire with both more grip and durability, it will enable us to put on better racing."
Brad was one of the few drivers who was able to test the new tire before the weekend because his team tested at Atlanta earlier this season, so both he and Wolfe took it upon themselves to learn all they could about the changes. Among the things that caught Brad’s attention was the unique nature in which Goodyear developed the new racing tire.
"What’s cool about it – aside from what it will do to the on-track product – is that the technology was taken from passenger car tires. Normally that dynamic works the other way with racing technology making its way to passenger tires."
With the new Gen 6 car, the entire 2013 NASCAR season has been an experimental process, as the teams and drives have had to learn on the fly how the new cars handle different situations. Given the issues of the Gen 6 cars this season, BK believes this will be a monumental weekend for the sport as the tires are tested in a high-intensity race situation for the first time.
"It's very, very important the tire succeeds, because it's the future of our sport,” Brad said. “Unfortunately, it's been brought in as a necessity rather than an option. Last year's tire with the 'Gen 6' car was basically incompatible to the track. We had every type of issue you could have. That forced the Goodyear cycle to be expedited, which is never ideal. We're going to find out kind of by trial and fire at Atlanta how it's going to work. So far the test was good, and that is great."
Brad and his fellow drivers will have plenty of opportunities to test out the new Goodyear rubber before Sunday night’s race. Practice sessions are scheduled at 3 p.m. EDT on Friday and 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturday. In between, they will qualify on the new tire for the first time Friday night at 7 p.m. EDT.
The AdvoCare 500 is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EDT Sunday on ESPN.