Three NASCAR Cup Series drivers were at Martinsville Speedway Tuesday and Wednesday for a Goodyear test, trying out different tires to find what they like best when the series return to Martinsville in the fall.
Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, and Wood Brothers Racing’s Paul Menard were on hand, driving well into the night Tuesday, and back at it Wednesday afternoon, seeing how different tire compounds and grip levels drive at The Paperclip under different track temperatures.
"We spent probably the first five or six hours yesterday running through different sets of tires, from left sides to right sides that Goodyear had given us," Blaney told reporters Wednesday. "Today we’re going to do even longer runs with some of the tires we thought were best to see where they go in 70 laps or so. That’s one of the biggest things about this test. There’s times when we can still work on our cars throughout the day but mainly it’s just trying to figure out if we can get a better tire here. Just playing around with that stuff, that’s the main reason for this here. But you can learn some stuff."
Driving under the lights was also a good preview for what the drivers expect to see next May when Martinsville holds its first NASCAR Cup Series night race under the permanent LEDs that were installed in 2017. NASCAR announced earlier this year that Martinsville would host a night race on Mother’s Day weekend next May.
Bowyer said the test this week was as much about tires as it was learning what would make for the best show for the fans.
"Obviously when you have a Goodyear tire test you’re in search of a tire to put on a good show," he said. "And what that is, that’s the question. There’s a lot of different answer to that question. I think you have to have a tire that obviously has some fall off which creates a little bit of action within. A guy gets into slipping and sliding a little bit in the corner, has to be put the throttle down, that’s an opportunity to get a pass, put on a show for the fans. At the end of the day that’s what we’re here to do."