NASCAR uses rain tires for first time in major points race

8/2/2008 - NASCAR

MONTREAL -- NASCAR drivers raced in grooved rain tires for the first time in a major points race Saturday after showers at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve made it impossible to run on regular slick tires.

After just eight laps in the NAPA Auto Parts 200 on the 2.71-mile, 14-turn road course, rain and lightning forced an eight-minute, red-flag delay. The cars returned to the track with the grooved Goodyear tires and many also had a single windshield wiper.

"This is ridiculous," race leader Scott Pruett said over his radio.

Grooved tires also were used in 1999 during a Craftsman Truck Series practice on the road course at Watkins Glen. In 1997, the tires were used in practice and qualifying for an exhibition race in Japan.

The historic tire switch came a week after tire troubles derailed the Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis. Goodyear's tires weren't durable to withstand more than 10 or so laps at a time, creating a chaotic and confusing caution-filled race.

"We have a lot of history with this tire on the sports car side," Goodyear's Chad Fletcher said. "We're expecting them to be able to go a full fuel cycle."

When racing resumed on the 14th lap, Marcos Ambrose took the lead from Pruett and pulled away, with rooster-tails flying off his back tires.