Some of the most expendable pieces of equipment used in motorsport are tires, and NASCAR is no different. Acting as the final medium between a well-set-up race car and the asphalt, tires play a huge role in how a driver performs on the track, along with how his machinery behaves under him. After all, it is not rare to see tire life differentials or great strategic calls change the faces of races.
In the world of stock car racing, Goodyear is and has been the sole tire supplier for the Cup, Xfinity, and Truck series since 1997. NASCAR and Goodyear have a relationship going back to 1969, however, both entities were bound to a contract in 1997 that cemented Goodyear as the sole tire supplier to the sport.
With the seventh generation Cup car's debut last year, the tires also went under a major overhaul as the Next Gen cars switched to independent rear suspension systems and 18-inch wheels. The new tires, called the Goodyear Eagle Radical Race tires, come in the form of a slick, wet, and specialized set to be used in the annual dirt race.
Each tire can cost anywhere from $350-$500, with race teams using up to 16 sets of tires in a typical weekend. If one was to do the math, NASCAR teams would spend around $20,000 per weekend just on tires. When each set of tires costs from $1200-$2000, the early expense racks up rapidly for teams, which is why the estimated $720,000 budget for a season of 36 races is diluted by teams often leasing tires from Goodyear.
With the Goodyears designed to endure the sustained load and force of racing on oval tracks, as well as road courses, a typical tire only lasts about 100 miles, before dropping off drastically in performance and longevity. The past season saw its fair share of tire failures as the sport tried to figure out the new car package along with the Akron, Ohio-based tire manufacturer.
What inflation pressures do NASCAR tires run at?
The NASCAR rulebook mandates every team to closely monitor and ensure proper tire pressure throughout the race weekend. A significant amount of performance and aspect of tire failure is related to how low the teams can run pressure in their car's tires.
The past season saw many tire failures, which were partly blamed on the teams trying to experiment and taking things too far. The rulebook mandates the minimum tire pressure for the 18-inch tires for the Daytona 500 to be 28 PSI in both left tires, along with 52 PSI in the right front and 50 PSI in the right rear.