ABBOTTSTOWN, Pa. — It's pretty cool that when Hoosier Tire could have picked anywhere in the country to debut the new sprint car tire, they picked the heart of Posseland.
Central Pennsylvania was chosen to make the tire debut. It was supposed be last week, and going into Lincoln, they would have already had four races under their belt with the new tires, but with the weather—Port Royal: canceled, Williams Grove's opening day: canceled twice, so far.
So, the debut happened at Lincoln on Saturday.
History was made in the Pigeon Hills. Not only are the World of Outlaws racing in central Pennsylvania for the first time in March. The bigger talker amongst the heated rivalry is the debut of a brand new tire.
“This new spring swing, with the World of Outlaws, we just felt it was a great opportunity to give the World of Outlaws and the PA Posse a fair opportunity to be on the product at the same time," said Neil Cowman, Hoosier Tire Oval Business Unit Manager.
It took a two-year process of designing and constructing the new mold. They’ve made subtle changes to the pervious H series tire, but this is the first time Hoosier has made a new mold for sprint cars since the late 1990s.
The debut created an even playing field but a huge challenge for teams. Dennis Christ, a mechanic/tire specialist for Murray-Marks Motorsports, has been working in racing for around 30 years. Tires are the only variables that can change day-to-day. It's made of rubber.
“Tires. That’s the biggest change there is because, when you buy a part, it’s manufactured," said Christ. "It is what it is. For the most part. These tires, they’ll grow, they’ll shrink, they’ll work great and then next time, it could be the opposite."
The new D series tires have a different sidewall stiffness, the compound is harder; to hopefully make the tire last longer, they went any with the camber to make the tire non-directional, a few different casing options and tread pattern that has more "holes" so the tire can release more heat and hopefully not blister.
Cowman said, “The holes that you see in the new tread design, they are heat dissipation holes. To dissipate the heat out of the tire. We feel like this tire will require less grooving and siping than previous models. For certain situations, if the track is kind of loose, marble and dirty, the teams may do a simple narrow groove; straight across. But, basically we feel like, with this new design, it’s not going to require a lot of grooving and siping.”
Prior to the release, the 10-time Outlaw Series Champ, Donny Schatz, was able to test it last year.
“Compared to what we had in years prior, this tire unhooked the car a lot," said Schatz. "The cars were stuck so hard where you didn’t have to move your hands, didn’t have to move your feet and that tire really unloaded the race car to where you had your hands full going down the straightaway and getting into the corner was pretty tricky."
Per the World of Outlaws rule, the same tire must be used for hot laps, qualifying and heats. They can change the tire before the feature. Teams using the new tires on Saturday noticed how much life was still left in the tire but still noticed "featuring," (the wearing of the tire) on the sides of the tire, early in the night.
Success with these new tires won't happen overnight. It's going to take some time to get used to.
“Anytime I got out of the throttle, I just felt the car wanted to slam down and then get back on the throttle and stand back up, again," said Brent Marks, driver #19 Murray-Marks Motorsports. "It was kind of like a seesaw type of effect and that’s just difficult to get used to."
Teams are just trying to learn from every time they hit the track. It's an unknown of the proper way for setup.
“It’s a different feel for me. I’m kind of, I don’t want to say lost but don’t know what to feel," Anthony Macri, driver #39M Macri Motorsports.
“It’s a tough deal, you’re used to the last how many years going out there and looking to feel the same thing and now, whatever felt good before might not be good now," said Joe Mooney, Macri Motorsports crew chief.
It’s just a new puzzle that teams will have to solve.
“I think the tires will be good though," said Marks. "We’ve been on the same H series tires for how many years now. Then, we have this big change and we just have to get accustomed to it."
Outlaw vs. Posse Rivalry Returns
After four straight weather cancellations, it might have been cold but Lincoln Speedway was able to get their race in on Saturday.
The Pa Posse showed whose territory it was and packed the track.
The first trip to Lincoln wasn't what 16-year-old Ryan Timms would have hoped for, as his night ended in the heat.
There were 27 drivers from the Keystone State, with 11 states and three countries represented racing in the Pigeon Hills, and believe it or not, thirty cars started the feature.
Battling with Brad Sweet for the lead, Freddie Rahmer went around as Rico Abreu, driver #24 of Rico Abreu Racing, clipped his right rear on Rahmer's left rear.
Abreu knocked the w-link out, which made the car roll more to the right rear when it wasn't connected and actually worked in his favor.
“As the race went on, the car kept getting better and better,” said Abreu "Just really thankful for this team. They do an unbelievably great job and it's our first race out. To get a win is pretty impressive."
How about that: his first race of the season and he kicked it off stuffing it to both the PA Posse and the Outlaws.