NASCAR at Dover notebook: Goodyear brings different rubber for the road at Dover

Kevin Harvick in the garage during Cup Series practice on Friday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — Goodyear officials hope a tire test conducted by five NASCAR drivers at Dover International Speedway on July 25 will help produce a competitive and safe Apache Warrior 400 on Sunday.

The 24-degree banking in the corners at Dover and the high speeds generated around the one-mile concrete oval combine to make a tire for the speedway a difficult challenge – and balance between speed and safety.

Monster Cup Series drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Chris Buescher and Landon Cassill participated in the tire test at Dover in the summer.

Jimmie Johnson prepares to get in his car in the garage during Cup Series practice on Friday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

The drivers’ suggestions and feedback led Goodyear to bring a different tire set-up for Dover than it did for the spring race, with changes on both sides of the car.

The Xfinity Series drivers will use the same tires as the Monster Cup drivers in today’s Drive Sober 200.

“Dover presents several unique challenges, from the banking that generates high loads and speeds to the concrete surface that needs to take rubber,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing. “Since we start the weekend with a white concrete surface, fans will watch it rapidly turn to black with rubber.

“During the race, specifically during caution periods, fans can see it lighten in color again as cars pick up rubber off the track surface. But the rubber will go down quickly again once the race goes back to green.”

Kyle Busch during Cup Series practice on Friday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

Tire engineers made a compound change to the left-side tires to give the cars more grip, as Goodyear tunes to NASCAR’s low downforce settings.

As far as the right-side tires, engineers elected to make a construction change to enhance durability, as Goodyear has done at many speedways.

Austin Dillon watches his crew work on hios car in the garage during Cup Series practice on Friday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

The changes to the right-side tires is important because of the speeds and loads the tires on that side of the car experience with the high degree of banking at Dover.

In addition to that, the tread compound used on the right-side is designed to rubber-in the concrete track surface to the appropriate level.

The tires selected came from a choice of three different packages.

“We’re just trying to see if we can get a good tire that can put on a good race here at Dover and try to give our cars a little more grip, allow the track to rubber in and make sure the cars can move around,” Logano said, at the July tire test. “That’s kind of the main goal when you come to a tire test – try to find a tire that will allow us to put on a great race.”

K&N Pro Series East race

Harrison Burton defied the odds in the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation 125 presented by Carl Deputy & Son Builders K&N Pro Series East race at Dover on Friday afternoon.

Burton, the son of former NASCAR Cup Series driver Jeff Burton, entered the race eight points behind Todd Gilliland in the race for the series’ championship.

Kurt Busch in the garage during Cup Series practice on Friday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

No problem.

Burton simply went out and won the race – and the K&N Pro Series East championship – by prevailing through an overtime finish at the “Monster Mile.”

“It’s unbelievable,” Burton said. “We worked really hard all year to come out and do this (win the championship) and now that it finally happened I feel pretty emotional about it.

“We never quit. At the end of the day we’re headed home with two trophies.”

Burton received hugs in Victory Lane from both his father and his mother, Kim, who nervously watched the closing laps click off from the pits.

The race was red-flagged with one lap to go when Chase Cabres’ wrecked race car had to be towed off the race track.

After a delay of five minutes, 21 seconds, Burton held off all pursuers in a green-, white-, checkered-flag OT finish to post the triumph.

Eddie MacDonald finished second, followed by Tyler Dippel, Sheldon Creed and Jay Beasley.

Gilliland helped set up Burton’s memorable day when he spun and slammed into the outside wall in the second corner on lap 57, extinguishing his title aspirations.

With only 15 drivers in the field, Gilliland could have clinched the title with a finish of third place or better.

“Every one of these races this year we’ve done everything in our power to get the win and that’s not going to change,” Gilliland said. “We were here to win.”

Burton became the 15th different winner in 17 K&N Pro Series East races at Dover.

Delaware business goes big time

NASCAR driver Ryan Newman, center, meets with the owner of Waste Masters Solutions Steve Masterson, left, and his wife Cathy Masterson. Waste Masters Solutions is sponsoring Newman’s No. 31 Cup Series car this weekend at Dover. (Submitted photo/Kathy Willes)

Waste Masters Solutions, a New Castle-based company, will serve as the primary partner of Ryan Newman’s Monster Energy Series team this weekend at Dover.

Waste Masters Solutions is a U.S. veteran-owned company that provides commercial and industrial clients with reliable, flexible and high-quality waste solutions.

U.S. Paralympian Hannah McFadden to pace Cup race

Hannah McFadden, a U.S. Paralympics track and field athlete, will serve as the honorary pace car driver for Sunday’s Apache Warrior 400 Monster Energy Series playoff race at Dover.

McFadden is a two-time U.S. Paralympian (2012, 2016) and four-time world championship bronze medalist and is training for the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.

“It seems like there are parallels between track and field and motorsports and I’m really honored Dover and Toyota have invited me to come serve as the pace car driver so I can learn more about the similarities in person,” McFadden said.

“I’m eager to see NASCAR up close and learn more what Toyota does in the sport since they’re such an engaged partner of ours on the Olympics and Paralympics side.”

McFadden, who was adopted from Albania shortly after she was born, is native of nearby Clarksville, Maryland, located less than 100 miles from Dover.

She was born with a bone deformity in her left leg, where she had an above-the-knee amputation.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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