Vegas tire eyed for 1½-mile tracks

Updated: March 18, 2009, 2:12 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

CONCORD, N.C. -- Most people leave Las Vegas with less than they arrived.

NASCAR may have left with more.

The tire compound Goodyear brought to Las Vegas Motor Speedway last month got favorable reviews from drivers conducting testing at Lowe's Motor Speedway on Tuesday and Wednesday, increasing the likelihood that the Vegas tire will be used going forward at mile and a half tracks like Lowe's.

Goodyear officials said the right-side tires in particular will be the new "control'' tire at most intermediate tracks.

"From a feel standpoint it seems like there is a lot less movement in the car,'' three-time defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson said Wednesday during a break in testing. "Atlanta ... the interaction for the tire and the way it was compressing and cycling around, it also had the car moving left to right. "As you're going through those sensations, it's hard to tell if your car is loose or tight. Then you get into the center of the corner, and that that point the condition usually shows up.''

But by then Johnson said the driver and crew chief are so baffled by what's happening that it's tough to make the proper changes to improve handling.

"It just really confuses you and takes away your confidence to carry speed into the corner,'' Johnson said. "It affects your confidence in what changes you make to the car and really what's going on. It takes more time and it's hard for the team to find that magical setup to help that tire work right for you.

"With this tire, if you're tight, you're tight. If you're loose, you're loose. ... In a race it stays consistent.''

Goodyear officials said the only reason the Vegas tire wasn't used at Atlanta was that the tire for Atlanta had already been approved before the Vegas race.

"So far Goodyear has gone a great job with the right side,'' Kasey Kahne said. "The Las Vegas tire was a huge improvement. That tire will be good for here.''

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter