With the opening of a UARA new season came new cars, new rookies, new veterans, new teams, new rules, new sponsors and… new tires.
The new Goodyear tires were the talk of the track on Friday night. Some drivers didn’t mind them. Some drivers hated them. But in the end, the verdict is still out on the new rubber and how they’ll affect racing.
race. “I think you will see a lot better racing at lap 125 tonight then you would have before. I think when we come back again, we’ll probably have a little different tire than we have now. Maybe then, you’ll see better racing then too.”
There weren’t a lot of happy campers after Saturday night’s race.
Did the new Goodyear tires have anythng to do with all of the accidents Saturday? (Paul J. Robinson photo)
The UARA is the first series to use Goodyear’s new D2602 Short Track Special. Built in Goodyear’s Technical Center in Akron, Ohio, the D2602 is a bias-ply tire and measures 27 inches tall by 10 inches wide. It fits on a 15-inch wheel and uses Goodyear’s A400 tread compound.
“This is going to be a very popular tire,” said Cal Lint, Goodyear’s marketing manager for contract sales in a recent press release about the tire. “The teams that have tested it have liked it.”
“The tires aren’t a lot faster, but I think it stays under the car for a while longer,” said driver Keith Stiltner before the
“I don’t know,” said second-place finisher Jamey Caudill on his impression of the tires after the race. “I don’t like them as good as the 1132s. They (Goodyear) say they are going to make some improvements between now and the South Boston race. They will get them good. They’ll be fine.”
The fact of that the race featured very little passing among the cars at the front of the field. It was hard to pinpoint if that was because of the number of cautions, the cold temperatures, the close field or the tires.
“Goodyear brought that new tire and it was pretty hard,” said Jamie Yelton, who was a test driver for Goodyear when testing the new tire. “I don’t think the tire did as good as they had in mind. I think the new tire is ok. Goodyear will get back and they’ll fix it. I still don’t think it is the right tire for these cars.
Jamey Caudill was not a big fan of the new tires, but knows Goodyear will make them better. (51 photos)
“The tire is really, really hard and if you look at it, it looks narrower than a 10 inch tire. They had to give us 12 laps to get our tires hot enough to run. If you have to do that on a late model stock car, you got to change something.
“Everyone was pretty close as well though. You’ve got McCall there though and he is a good shoe here. He runs here every week and he is tough to beat. Caudill was up there and he is a class act. There are jus some good race car drivers here.”
Jason York (#18) and Keith Stiltner (#22). (51 photo)
Fifth-place finisher and defending series champion Jason York was not a fan of the new tire.
“I think this new tire is junk. I think the tire we had last year was a lot better tire. Goodyear is saying that we’ll have better tires in about three races. Hopefully, we’ll get some.
“The sidewalls are a lot harder. So instead of the sidewalls giving and getting heat in the tire, they are staying stiff and they ain’t getting that hot.”
SEVERAL DRIVERS HEAD HOME
There were a lot of cars that showed up to Hickory Motor Speedway to try and get into the field for Saturday night’s 150-lap race. In fact, there were so many cars that UARA officials elected to run two separate lace chance races, transferring two cars out of each race to the feature.
A total of 46 cars were on hand Saturday, with 42 taking qualifying times in hopes of getting into the 28-car starting field. That meant several drivers were going home.
No name was bigger that went home than last year’s 10th-place point finisher Nick Hutchins. Hutchins qualified just two spots out of the top-22 that were locked in and was forced to run one of the last chance races after two other drivers who finished ahead of Hutchins in the 2004 points had to rely on provisionals.
Hutchins started on the pole for the second last chance race, but was involved in a first-lap accident that took him and a couple other cars out of contention.
Other drivers that went home included Dennis Queen, Jeff Myers, Joey Miller, Nate Pieper, Scottie Hicks Daniel Pope, Marty Ward, Brett Rhinehart, Joey
This sign is in Nick Hutchins' car. It didn't work for him on Saturday night. (51 photos)
Rhinehardt, David Hopkins, Marc Davis, Michael Giesson, Neil Jordan, Kyle Gregson, Greg Weeks, Dexter Canipe Jr and Mark Burdette.
TISSOT HAPPY TO BE BACK IN FULL SWING
Most people would consider a third-place finish in the points and a couple of wins a decent year. Not Lee Tissot.
The 2004 season is one Tissot, the 2003 UARA champion, would like to forget. He split with car owner Mitch West during the season and found a new home with the #33 team of Brad Allen.
Lee Tissot's (#33) new team has him excited about the year. (51 photo)
Now, he’s ready for a whole season with the #33 and his third-place finish at Hickory was a good start.
“We are going to run this whole series this year and try to win the championship,” said Tissot. “I had a horrible year last year. Things just weren’t working. But things have a way of working out I guess. We are hoping this year will work out a lot better. Everyone is calm and cool and we are just ready to go racing.
“I think I’m back on my game where. We’ve got good race cars, good motors. We are just trying to keep up with times. It just took getting me in a good car. I wans’t real happy with what I was in and then it all game
to head and I left. I got in a Leicht car and went right to the front. We got another Leicht car here and we’ve been good in it.
“Felt good to be really back on my game and running good. That there felt real good.”
UARA HAS ANOTHER BIG ROOKIE WITH A BIG NAME
Last year, the son of a famous NASCAR driver stole the rookie limelight in the UARA Series and did so in style. Steve Wallace (Rusty’s son) not only won the series Rookie of the Year, but a couple of races along the way as well.
He took a big step in doing so by finishing eighth on Saturday night.
“It was a good run,” said rookie Kyle Grissom, son of Steve Grissom. “The car was better than where we finished. We got tied up with a slower car there for most of the race. I think that hurt me a good bit. Once we got free from him, the car was really fast. I’m just disappointed that the finish didn’t really show how good the car was. It is a good way to start out the season
“The field was really close tonight. The cautions were bad. You couldn’t run but about five laps before there seemed to be another caution. I know all the cautions really hurt me.”
YELTON IMPRESSED WITH LINEUP
There were a lot of good cars at Hickory, and veteran Jamie Yelton was impressed.
“There are some really good cars here, with guys like McCall, Caudill, York and McCaskill. I think we’ve got one of the best groups of race cars we’ve had since we’ve run here.”
Jamie Yelton opened his 2005 season in a solid way on Saturday night. (51 photo)
And Yelton was right. In fact, after McCall’s dominating qualifying run, the rest of the top-22 qualifiers (all that were locked it) were separated by just over two-tenths of a second. To put that into perspective, you can’t snap your fingers in two-tenths of a second.
Yelton had a solid run, finishing fourth, after winning a race at Hickory last season.
“We really concentrated in practice in getting our car to work on worn tires and on longer runs. We usually run good here. Better than we did tonight. I just waited on the long haul for my tires to come on. I knew everyone else was throwing stickers on their cars today during
practice. I didn’t. I’m not sure if it paid off or not.
“But I’m happy. We got a new motor program with Automotive Specialists. This is a new car so we are just fine tuning things the first time out.”
YOUNGEST ROUSH DEVELOPMENT DRIVER MAKES UARA DEBUT
Last week, when NASCAR powerhouse Roush Racing put out a press release announcing their newest driver development drivers, 14-year-old African-American driver Marc Davis was on that list.
This past Saturday, he made his UARA debut.
“We just want to try and make the race and get some experience,” “We want to get 125 laps under our belt. That way, we can come back and do a little bit better the next race and the next time we come back here as well.”
Unfortunately, the youngster didn’t make the feature. He was forced to run in one of the last chance races with his #34, but got caught up in an accident not of his making when Nick Hutchins spun from the pole. Davis was able to continue but the extensive damage to the front of his car prevented him from being a factor in the race.
14-year-old Marc Davis.
The #34 that David is running has special meaning.
“We are running (former NASCAR driver) Wendell Scott’s number,” said Davis. Scott is the only Africian-American driver to win a NASCAR Grand National (now the Cup Series) race. “It is really important to me and I’m trying to keep that tradition alive.”