Brad Keselowski insists that Goodyear did not bring the right tire combination to Michigan International Speedway.
“I’m of the opinion they didn’t choose what my recommendation was is what was best for the sport, or any of the other drivers that were here,” said Keselowski. “That is their decision. That is their choice. But with respect to that, I don’t want my name attached to endorsing that decision.”
The Team Penske driver was one of five drivers who participated in a two-day test at Michigan in April, which led to Goodyear’s decision on the race tire. When Goodyear released the information for this weekend’s events at Michigan, not only was the test mentioned, but so was the names of those who participated: Martin Truex, Aric Almirola, Austin Dillon, Alex Bowman, and Keselowski.
Keselowski is worried about that being interpreted as an endorsement of the tires, however, drivers do not pick the tire combination. Driver data is one area of several that Goodyear draws upon.
Greg Stucker, director of racing at Goodyear, explained how a tire test works to RACER:
“There is a lot of upfront work that we do in computer simulation and laboratory, physical test data on experimental compounds,” he said.
“All those things are before we even start building a test tire program, and all that data that we gather internally is geared toward meeting some objective when we go to the tire test.
“For Michigan, our goal was to increase wear and reduce some of the heat. Not to go to faster, but increase wear, deliver more falloff, and the wear will get rid of some of the heat.
“So, we set the tire program up to do that. We had five cars here, and the way it works is, we’ll have a control setup, which is our 2017 race, that’s our starting point, and then we’ll have one car testing left side compounds on short runs and then do a kind of sorting thing. Have another car on right side compounds on short runs and sort through that way. Pretty much the first day of testing is that. You sort through all the things you brought on short runs to say, OK, this has got promise, forget this one.
“The next day we’ll do some longer runs on what we think will be a good raceable combination … and get as many people as you can to run that combination. Sometimes that’s not doable because we have limited quantities of test tires.
“That’s the process and you take all that data – wear data, temperature data, driver lap times, and driver comments – the engineers go back, digest all that, analyze it and then come up with a recommendation.”
Stucker said the right-side compound was tested on every car, and in Keselowski’s case he ran 10 laps, and the tires were out of balance. After the run, Keselowski did express that he didn’t think that compound was a good option for the race.
“That ended up being the right-side compound, but he ran it with a control left side. He never ran what we’re racing here,” said Stucker. “Brad does a great job, he’s a good driver and gives us great feedback.”
For this weekend, Goodyear describes the left-side tires as featuring an updated construction and a new compound to induce more wear. The right-side is single tread with a new compound that will also induce more wear and run cooler.
“Of course, you want to feel like anyone else in their job, that if you put a lot of effort in and have your boots on the ground, you would like to think that your boss, or those above you, would listen to you,” Keselowski said. “When they don’t, you get a little disappointed.
“I like Greg, I like Goodyear. I think they made the wrong decision this week. It is what it is. We’re here, and we’ll get through the race, and hopefully everything will be fine.”