IndyCar’s Tire Challenge: Firestone’s Race Against Time and Hybrid

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Last month, the IndyCar Series announced a significant change to its final race, moving it from the streets of downtown Nashville to the 1.33-mile D-shaped concrete oval in Lebanon, Tennessee, scheduled for September 15.

This shift marks the first time since 2014, specifically Fontana, that the season finale will take place on an oval, stirring Firestone, the exclusive tire supplier for North America’s premier open-wheel championship, into a flurry of activity.

However, transitioning to an oval presents unique challenges, distinct from the asphalt tracks commonly used. Cara Krstolic, Executive Director of race tire engineering and production for Firestone, emphasized the complexities involved.

She highlighted the abrasive nature of the concrete speedway, high tire wear, and increased tire heat due to the oval’s shape, necessitating a tailored tire construction specific to Nashville.

Krstolic stressed that this isn’t as simple as using tires from other ovals, given Nashville’s unique demands. Firestone has secured a tire test date to experiment with compounds and constructions, aiming to develop a suitable tire in time for the race.

With the hybrid introduction anticipated mid-season, further complexities arise, influencing tire heat distribution and wear. A tire test, including hybrid testing, is scheduled for June 14, amidst a busy race schedule. Firestone is navigating tight timelines, balancing workload and budget demands to deliver optimal tire solutions.

Despite the challenges, Krstolic expressed confidence in Firestone’s capabilities, leveraging historical data, collaboration with race teams, and advanced testing to meet the demands of the Nashville oval, ensuring a seamless transition for IndyCar’s finale.

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