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Murto: Multiple tire compounds could work for NASCAR

By Craig Murto

Despite the fact that race statistics seem to indicate otherwise, many fans complain that NASCAR racing today simply isn't as good as it once was.

Maybe it's simply nostalgia that makes fans come to that conclusion. We all long for the era with which we grew up. Nothing could possibly beat that days of the Richard Petty/Bobby Allison battles, could it? And weren't the best days when Dale Earnhardt, Rusty Wallace and Darrell Waltrip ruled the roost?

In reality, today's racing usually result with more cars on the lead lap, more cars capable of winning and more cars actually scoring top-10 finishes than in any other era. Maybe it's simply that since there are so many forms of racing available on TV or within a short distance to attend. Or could it be that there are so many forms of entertainment instantly available -- period -- that even today's competitive NASCAR racing doesn't satisfy.

Maybe it's about time for NASCAR to take a page from Formula One and IndyCar and utilize multiple tire compounds for Sprint Cup events. Don't do it in Nationwide and Camping World Trucks, but have Goodyear bring at least two different compounds to each Cup race, a "soft" and a "hard" compound.

Cars must start each race on the compound they used to qualify. And they must use each compound during the race under green-flag conditions; no changing under yellow, then pitting on the next lap under the same yellow to change tires again. And no mixing of compounds; you can't have the hard tires on the right side and then pit and take two soft tires on the left. However, two-tire stops will be allowed as long as they are two tires of the same compound already on the car.

A lot of interesting setups would come out of practice. Some teams may opt for a compromise setup to accommodate both tire compounds; others would favor the soft tire. Still other teams will set their cars up to favor the hard tire. Teams will have to build adjustability into their cars as they factor in more variables, such as how each tire reacts to temperature changes.

I understand that expenses may go up for the teams, as they may have to buy more tires in practice and during the race. But top NASCAR cup teams already spend stupid money as it is -- they even hire full-time over-the-wall crew members, when it wasn't too long ago many teams used volunteers. They have shock specialists, aero specialists, engineers; what's one more task for the tire specialist?

If Cup racing is the top form of motorsports in the United States -- as NASCAR would have you believe -- then certainly the teams could handle the added strategy that would be required to make use of different tire compounds in each race. It could make the racing more interesting.

The Virginia Sprint Series was interesting and exciting at Shenandoah Speedway. Tom Humphries grabbed the win. It was good to see Modified legend Satch Worley in the field as he raced to third.

This Saturday night the Super Cup Stock Car Series will run at Shenandoah. The "heavy car" series, similar to Pro Cup or NASCAR's K&N Series, always puts on a good show and is expected to attract a good field of cars. The series hasn't run at Shenandoah for a number of years, and may not return again this year, so be sure to see them locally while you have the chance. Let's show the Super Cup regulars that we can assemble a crowd.

There was a good crowd on hand at Texas to watch Kyle Busch win the cup race, and a very good crowd at Rockingham to see Kyle Larson grab his first Camping World Truck Series win. There was an absolutely huge crowd on hand at Shanghai, China, to see Fernando Alonso win the Chinese F1 Grand Prix.

But it wasn't just the huge crowd in China that drew attention -- after all, F1 tickets cost a small fortune and the average Chinese laborer makes very little money -- it was the haze in the air. The air quality in China is horrible -- they don't have an EPA -- and it was visible during the race. And word is the air was thickest between the pit stalls of Redbull teammates Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.

Veteran motorsports columnist Craig Murto is a Linden resident.


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