The Kansas Monozone Tire

OK, so ‘monozone’ is just a fancy way of saying it’s the old tire.  It’s all in the branding, isn’t it?

Goodyear has been experimenting with multi-zone tires since last year.  Multizone tires attempt to get the best of both worlds by combining a harder compound on the inner 2-3 inches of the tire (for wear resistance) and a softer compound across the rest of the tire (for grip).  I went over the reasons for the need for a tougher inner shoulder to the tire and why the new camber rules in a good amount of detail previously.

Multizone tires were a hit last year in Atlanta, but not as praised much in Kansas.  Likewise, this year the tires made for great racing in Texas, but the Richmond race featured a lot of tire wear and some unhappy drivers.

Goodyear tested a multizone tire at Kansas Speedway on April 14th this year. They weren’t happy with the results and have opted to go with a monozone tire at the race.  They used a combination of information in the historical record regarding previous compounds used at Kansas, along with lab testing to develop a new monozone right-side tire.  The compound is slightly different than the grip-centric compound that had been used on the multizone tires.  The same left-side tire will be used as has been used previously.

Given that Goodyear starts making tires for Daytona back in October, it’s pretty impressive that they were able to generate the tires for the race in a little under a month.

The problem seems to be excessive wear on the inside edges of the tires. I covered the reasons for this previously, but those reasons are exacerbated when you’re at a track with a lot of grip.  This means that the problems are more likely to rear their heads at grippy tracks (i.e. newly paved tracks) and during night races because the cooler temperatures result in more grip.  The other factor is high loads on tires, especially transient (i.e. short-time) loads.

Larry MacReynolds pointed out this morning on SiriusXM NASCAR radio that the teams have the car suspensions set up to be be rather stiff.  In the corners, there isn’t much springy in the car except the tire – the tire becomes the only point with any give. That puts a lot of stress on the tire.  Corner speeds have also been much higher this year – and that’s were much of the load comes about.

The one common thread I’ve heard is that there is a very small window between ‘fine’ and ‘oops’ – the tires are good for a long time and then they just go.  This is a problem because you don’t get much predictability – there’s no way they can run enough testing during practice to know that they can go 54, but not 55 laps before the time starts wearing enough to get into the danger zone.

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