Yesterday I watched the Camping World Truck Series and the Cup Series from The Bristol Dirt. Much better this time around without the excess moisture on the track. The races were supposed to be run on Saturday and Sunday with heat races setting the lineup, but a drenching storm system basically drowned the track both days causing the heat races to be cancelled and the mains to be set based on the formula that has been used to set the starting order since Daytona. Running both races in one afternoon/evening did put the shortcomings of dirt over concrete on display, as the track surface was really rough by the end of the 250 lap Cup race following the 100 lap truck race.
By the end of the Cup race there were holes in the surface big enough to pretty much swallow one of the Goodyear bias-ply dirt tires. Which was another major change for this race, going back to bias-ply tires instead of the steel-belted radials they have been using since the end of the Tire Wars of the 1980s. The consensus was from data gathered running the truck series at Eldora that the radial was too stiff to get good racing on dirt, particularly when the track got rough. Racing on dirt requires more compliance in the sidewall than asphalt or concrete, and Goodyear’s engineers just could not get a radial that would stay together and be compliant enough to get good grip and last with the Cup Series engines and suspensions. The CWTS racers have less than 2/3 of the unrestricted Cup Series cars horsepower and running radials at Eldora had racers that couldn’t use full power except for the last third of the straights and that lost control at the high yaw angles usually associated with dirt racing. Basically the radials acted like they were on a dusty paved track and did not develop any side or forward bite into the dirt surface. But Goodyear did have bias-ply tires that made good grip on dirt for racing dirt late models, so the one that was closest to the Cup Series pavement slick dimensions was used to develop the tire for the trucks and Cup Series at Bristol. Basically all three of the NASCAR top touring divisions are built to use the same tire so that Goodyear only has to supply one tire for events running more than just the Cup Series.
Now the racing was good, lots of beating and banging as is the norm for stock cars (and trucks) on dirt. Martin Truex Jr. outlasted everyone to win the Camping World Truck Series race, while Joey Logano did the same for the Cup Series race. Basically the race was won by the cars that were in the best condition at the end of the race. I think for next year both series will go with softer springs and greater ride height to make sure they have enough travel to keep the tires in contact with the track. What’s going to be real fun is when the next generation of Cup cars running the 18″ wheel and tire package and 4 wheel independent suspension runs the dirt. Will they go back to 15″ wheels for Bristol Dirt so everybody gets the same tire? As I’m reading it right now, they are going to keep this year’s car for the next dirt race because there is zero development on the next year’s car for racing on dirt, especially with the rear suspension. Straight axles have been scienced out pretty well and are well-understood for getting the power to the track. The only racing format that races on dirt and has independent rear suspension is the off-road buggies, and they have zero in common with stock cars. In fact the off-road vehicles closest to stock cars, that are allowed to run any type of suspension are trucks and they use close to the same suspension as the current Cup Series cars in the back. They have more locating links/arms than the Truck Arms used by Cup series cars, but the basic axle is nearly identical to what is run by late model dirt racers that are forbidden to run IRS. If IRS gave an advantage running in dirt like IFS does you can believe the off-road trucks would have adapted the uprights and axles from their fronts to the rear suspension.
Now on the other topic in the headline, trees are having sex in public and it’s getting all up in everyone’s faces, literally. I’m getting frequent white-outs from goop covering the cornea that I can’t see through and takes several blinks to clear away enough to see what I’m doing. If you think typing without looking at the keys is hard, try typing when you can’t look at the keys or the screen. That is
all kinds of no fun at all. Makes proofreading interesting too.