NASCAR has confirmed the testing of rain tires at Martinsville Speedway on Thursday, April 1 with drivers Kyle Larson (Chevrolet) and Chris Buescher (Ford).
By dampening the track, officials will explore if a wet-weather tire is feasible to use on short tracks. A 0.526-mile paperclip, Martinsville (pictured above) is the shortest track on the schedule.
Rain tires are currently used only in road course competition. However, NASCAR has tested a rain tire at Martinsville before, doing so in 1995 with Terry Labonte.
“I think the overall goal is anything we can do to speed up the drying process, regardless of the technology, to allow us to get back to racing more quickly is a benefit to the fans,” NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell told NASCAR.com. “We’re always trying to innovate, and you saw that with what we’ve done around the track-drying system and that’s worked out well. We’ve always looked at what’s the next iteration.
“If you’ve looked at what the teams have been able to do with more road racing coming into the fold, the idea of short tracks and could we work with Goodyear to tire a tire that would allow us to get back to racing sooner under wet-weather conditions.”
O’Donnell also indicated to NASCAR.com that if the test goes well, officials could look at doing the same at flat one-mile tracks like Phoenix and New Hampshire.
NASCAR Cup Series teams ran on a rain tire in race conditions for the first time last fall at the Charlotte Roval. Rain tires were introduced in 2008.
All three manufacturers are at Martinsville for a two-day test (Tuesday, Wednesday) of the Next Gen car. The cars being used are manufacturer-specific models, which will be unveiled to the public in early May.