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NASCAR no longer regulating minimum air pressure requirements

Alex Cunningham

Alex Cunningham


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - NASCAR will not regulate minimum air pressure requirements this season, giving crew chiefs more control of how little they put in their tires but also increasing the risk of a blowout.

“How much do you want to risk it to get the biscuit?’’ Joey Logano said. “Except that one hurts a lot more. Believe me.’’

Goodyear will continue to provide teams with a minimum tire pressure recommendation.

Previously, NASCAR mandated the right front tire pressure and, in some cases, left-front tires. Now, it is up to teams to determine how low they inflate their tires.

Robin Pemberton, senior vice president of competition, said NASCAR is allowing teams to police themselves in this area.

“With Goodyear constantly working on their communications with the teams on tire durability, it’s putting it in the team’s hands for different strategies,’’ he told NASCAR Talk Friday at Daytona International Speedway. “How low they think they can go.’’

Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of race tires sale, said: “(Teams) have to make those calls. We try to give them as much data as we can for them to make those types of decisions.’’

Pemberton said officials are working on having a tire pressure monitoring system on the dashboard to give drivers a warning when tire pressure is too low. Pemberton said that the system is “a ways away” from happening.

For now, Kasey Kahne said teams will take advantage of lowering the air pressure.

“There are certain tracks where you are at minimum, and if you could go down 2 more pounds, you would definitely definitely do it,’’ he said.

What’s the advantage of lowering air pressure? It provides better grip. That’s pivotal on short tracks and on some bigger tracks with worn and bumpy surfaces. It also is vital on restarts, especially late in a race.

“As a competitor, you have to push limits to make it better, and you get yourself in a box where you’re running on the edge,’’ said Paul Wolfe, crew chief for Brad Keselowski. “If nothing changes at this point, are we going to see a lot of failures? I have a feeling we could potentially.

“I know there’s multiple tracks where we were racing at the Goodyear minimum already and to sit here and say we aren’t going to try to go below it, I’d be lying to you.’’

Low air pressures at Daytona International Speedway are not expected to be an issue because that doesn’t help performance as much. Atlanta, the season’s second race, also might not be a track that sees lower air pressures because of the high speeds and loads. Tracks that could see teams dropping air pressures could be New Hampshire, Martinsville, Kentucky and Auto Club, among others, crew chiefs say.

Last July, Jimmie Johnson suffered two left rear tire failures at New Hampshire. He claimed it wasn’t because of low air pressure but Goodyear said otherwise.

“I think you will more see more variability in whether you want to set up for a short run or a long run when we get to the short tracks and how far you are going to be able to push it,’’ said Cole Pearn, crew chief for Martin Truex Jr. “I really see that is going to be the biggest thing that changes with the air pressure rule.’’