Excessive heat and high speeds—Greg Biffle turned a lap of 204 mph Friday—on the repaved 2-mile oval resulted in blistering of tires.
NASCAR, which had only qualifying and no practice scheduled for Cup cars Saturday, added a 75-minute practice session for 6 p.m. Saturday in preparation for the Quicken Loans 400 on Sunday.
Teams will qualify Saturday morning on the tires they tested Thursday and Friday.
“With the new repave here at Michigan, coupled with the high temperatures we’re seeing this weekend, we feel this change will help us put on the best race possible on Sunday,” Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition, said in a statement.
When Goodyear conducted its tire test in April, the high speed was 198 mph, and the speeds were not expected to increase considering the warmer temperatures expected in June.
But with the high speeds Thursday and Friday, Goodyear will have new left-side tires at the track Saturday. The new tires will have a tougher tread compound, a different construction and different mold shape, according to a Goodyear news release.
“In collecting data and speaking with drivers and crew chiefs throughout the practice days, we had two choices to make,” Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of race tires, said in a statement.
“Our first option was to make the team’s race sets available to them before practice on Friday and allow them the chance to scuff them, in order to run them through a heat cycle to increase heat resistance. We did that, but after all the practice sessions ended on Friday, we concluded the safer option was to go to our contingency plan.”
The move was a little bit of a surprise, considering Stucker had said right after the second practice Friday that Goodyear would “probably not” make a change. At that time, Stucker said that about a quarter of the garage - which would be 10 to 12 teams - had blistering issues in practice.
Changing tires on a race weekend is not unprecedented. NASCAR and Goodyear opted for a new tire at Bristol following Friday practice in March 2011.
“This code has been run before under similar track conditions and we have full confidence that it will give drivers and teams the enough grip to run a great race on Sunday, while doing so in the safest possible manner,” Stucker said. “Safety is always our No. 1 concern, and by bringing this tire here this weekend, we will accomplish that goal.”
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