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NASCAR MEDIA CONFERENCE


April 4, 2014


Robin Pemberton

Greg Stucker


THE MODERATOR:  We'll go ahead and get started.  We are joined by Greg Stucker and Robin Pemberton, here to talk about the use of the Zone Tread tire here at Texas.
Greg, talk a little bit about that.
GREG STUCKER:¬† Sure.¬† Actually we approached Texas this year, 2014, much like we did Atlanta last year.¬† We view the tracks as really very similar.¬† They're high speed tri‑ovals, the mile‑and‑a‑half range.¬† Both have very worn surfaces, seasoned surfaces, which I think everybody likes.¬† They both have a lot of character.
So coming this year to Texas, we wanted to make sure we addressed what we knew was coming, which was higher speeds, higher downforce with the new car.  We wanted to make sure we were prepared for that.  At the same time we wanted to make sure we weren't going to give up a lot of grip on this worn surface because that's the easy thing to do, just go harder in the tire, but that's not always the best solution.
We thought the Zone Tread gave us a good solution like we had at Atlanta where we run the toughened compound on the inboard shoulder because that's the part of the right side tire that sees the most stress, sees the most heat.  So we're able to manage that part of the tire with that tougher compound and maintain the tractive compound on the outboard portion of the tire so we surrender very little grip.
At the same time we're able to maintain the same left side tire that we've run here at Texas actually since 2011 which has performed very well for us here.
We feel very good about going into this weekend.  Very similar to Atlanta, they're known quantities.  In fact, the harder compound of this tire is the same as we raced in Atlanta last year.  The outboard compound is the same that we raced in both races here at Texas.  So very known quantities.  Like I said, the left side is a very known quantity, as well.
Based on the results we saw yesterday, two Nationwide practices, we feel very good.  We have a lot of confidence going into this weekend.
THE MODERATOR:  Robin, your thoughts on the level of commitment that Goodyear is bringing to the table on this project?
ROBIN PEMBERTON:  Really, they've always been committed to us.  With all the changes we've brought forward in the last number of years with cars and suspension changes and aero changes, things like that, we've been in step with each other, in tune.
Goodyear has done a great job developing new tires and bringing their new technology in to bring the best racing in the world to all of our fans.  It's been really good.  It's been elevated.  It's been a really good working relationship.
THE MODERATOR:  We'll open it up for questions.

Q.  Greg, why would a handful of drivers be concerned or predicting tire problems before they've even been on the track here?
GREG STUCKER:  I guess you'd have to ask them.  We feel very good about our recommendation here.  Historically Texas has not been a racetrack where we have a lot of left side problems, to be quite honest with you.
We addressed the right side because it is a high‑speed racetrack, and that's what gets stressed tremendously here.¬† That's why we came with the Zone Tread tire, because it was a good solution to that.
Really I think on the heels of some of the issues we saw at Fontana, people are asking the question, Is there a possibility we could see the same thing?  There's always that possibility.  People are always pushing the envelope, always trying to stress all parts of the racecar.  We understand that and support that.  That's what makes racing great, right?
Historically we haven't seen a lot of that so I don't have a lot of concerns above and beyond what we would have in a normal weekend.

Q.  Some teams have gone to NASCAR and asked them to regulate air pressure.  You would not be in favor of that?
GREG STUCKER:  I think we're both in agreement that we're going in a different direction.  A lot of teams have asked for more flexibility and more control.  We know at Goodyear that if we start to push towards more tractive tires, that puts everybody on the edge.  That means everybody has to manage it.
I think that makes for a good event, if you have to manage not only tires but manage other parts, manage your strategy.  I think that's what people want to see.  I think that's a contribution we can make.

Q.  Do you have the ability and would you consider increasing the allotment of tires to the teams for the race if you start seeing wear issues today or tomorrow?
GREG STUCKER:  If there would be any need for that, sure, we have the ability to do that.  That would be a decision we'd make with NASCAR.  If they felt that was appropriate, we'd be prepared to do that.

Q.  Robin, don't you find it a little ironic that oftentimes when you guys tell teams, You don't want us to get involved because you won't like the outcome, which generally tends to play itself out that way, in some instances they want NASCAR to do something for them that they could do for themselves?
ROBIN PEMBERTON:  Yeah, and I think it's a small group.  We're early in the process here this year in a lot of different areas.  Sometimes that question will be raised.
But long‑term they would rather be in charge of their own destiny, I think.

Q.¬† Robin, moving away from the tires a little bit.¬† I think I've heard people say you would have a good idea where the Gen‑6 is by now.¬† Is this going to be a good sample size to make some changes going forward?
ROBIN PEMBERTON:  I think so far the competition we've seen is probably the best.  I said it last year, that I thought the competition was the best I've seen in forever.  This year looks like it's going to, in my opinion, eclipse that.
This will be a good contest for us.  Historically speaking Texas is one that we always think about, we're trying to improve the product here.  Charlotte is another one.  We will be definitely keying on the results and stats that come out of this.
As good as everything looks right now, we'd have to really, really stub our toe to make any changes midstream right now.  But we want to keep looking at it and bringing the best racing to the table that we can week in and week out.

Q.  Typically when you come in and talk about tires, it's after the weekend has started.  Why are you here now?  Is there something you want to get out there that you told the teams, that it's in their court?
GREG STUCKER:  We're advancing some technology that we think is pretty significant.  That's the Zone Tread.  We ran it twice last year, Atlanta and Kansas.  This will be the first race for it this year.  Of course, we'll go back to Atlanta, back to Kansas, and we've also got Richmond on the agenda where we're actually looking at Zone Tread there and a few other places.
We just feel like it's a significant change and something to talk about.

Q.¬† Greg, two weeks now past Fontana, I know what you have said.¬† Do you feel there is a need to test there moving forward?¬† Looking back, was every problem essentially team‑inflicted?
GREG STUCKER:  We haven't seen anything over the last two weeks that tells us any differently than what our observations were there.  But at the same time, you know, I think we all want to keep the door open for potential improvements or changes.
As Robin indicated, we're still kind of early in the car.  We know that there will be developments over the course of this year.  I think that will be something we have on our radar.
We've talked about it internally.  We'll continue to talk about it to Robin and his guys and the teams and collectively determine if that's something we want to address.
The last thing we want to do is affect the quality of the racing there because I think we all agree it's tremendous.  But that's certainly something we'll keep open.

Q.¬† Robin, I know there's a dozen teams that have gotten a time penalty for practice today.¬† Certainly you have done that in the past.¬† This seems to be a lot more than previously.¬† Was there a particular issue at Martinsville or is this an issue that you're not liking what you see and may have to at some point do 30‑minute penalties or increase it?
ROBIN PEMBERTON:  No, it's in general.  To be fair to the garage, you have to maintain schedules and equal opportunities to work on your cars.  We're more structured this year with getting our cars through inspection, getting them out on the line for qualifying.
So to be fair to all the competitors, we have certain timeframes which you're allowed to work on your car, when you have to be out of the garage and getting ready for qualifying.
We'll continue to look at this.  It's not anything towards any shenanigans going on or any problems or issues with racetracks or inspection or anything like that.  It's just a way of doing business.
If later on we have to make an adjustment to some practice times or things of that nature, we'll do them, but it will be later in the season.

Q.  Robin, at any point is there a directive to NASCAR to tell teams to keep those left side pressures up high or do you think the lessons learned from Fontana are enough of a message sent to them?
ROBIN PEMBERTON:  No, not really.  It's a very competitive garage area out there.  With as much pressure being put on teams to win and get in the Chase, I think teams will be more likely to push the envelopes in any way that they can.  So we expect that out of them.
I'm proud of them to push the limits like that.  But they also know they have to finish races.  They know better than we do.  We're just the governing body.  They're the competitors.  They've got a lot on the line.  They're the best at pushing it to the limit.  They'll adjust accordingly.
THE MODERATOR:  Greg, Robin, thank you very much for your time today.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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