By Jerry Jordan, Editor
Everyone’s head of “Throwback Thursdays” where people post photos on social media harkening back to days of old but in NASCAR there’s an entire Throwback Weekend that takes place at Darlington Raceway. It’s where drivers, sponsors, teams, fans and even some of the media pay homage to the paint schemes and style of stockcar’s history and Goodyear is, again, on board with its race sponsorship and iconic old-school look with its tire sidewalls this weekend.
“We are obviously very excited about this week’s running of the Goodyear 400 at Darlington. To be the sponsor of this race, at a track where we have so much history, is really great for us,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing. “As far as the tires are concerned, Darlington’s abrasive surface always makes for an exciting race. Tires will wear and we will have a lot of fall-off over the course of a run, meaning tire management will be important. Drivers can impact their teams’ fortunes by not abusing their tires early in a run so they can fall off that little bit less and be faster than their competitors later. High wear also means four-tire stops all day, keeping the pit crews involved and highlighting the all-important team aspect of the sport.”
But Goodyear didn’t just change the design on the sides of their tires, they stepped up to sponsor the 400-mile race at the track with multiple nicknames. Whether it’s “Too Tough To Tame” or the “Lady In Black,” there’s one thing certain, the glaring white lettering on the sides of the tires raced in the Goodyear 400 will be gone as drivers leave their Darlington stripe around the outside wall.
“Our entitlement sponsorship of the Goodyear 400 represents a continuation of our six-decade commitment to NASCAR through tire innovation and allows us to celebrate the sport’s storied history and talented drivers of today,” said Karen Maroli, Goodyear’s vice president of marketing. “NASCAR’s Official Throwback Weekend is always a highly-anticipated stop on the circuit, and alongside Darlington Raceway, we look forward to providing race fans with an unforgettable experience.”
Goodyear Chairman & CEO, Rich Kramer, will attend today’s Goodyear 400, serving as Grand Marshal and giving the command for drivers to start their engines. And after NASCAR had a hard time getting Richard Petty off the track 2017 when paced the field at Darlington, they decided the NASCAR Hall of Fame driver and seven-time Cup Series champion should be the race’s Honorary Starter and wave the green flag starting the race. The King admitted at the time that it felt good to be behind the wheel, again, after being given the “black flag” and told to return to pit road.
SIDENOTE: Some lucky fans could win a Goodyear Throwback tire from Darlington Raceway by registering to win at Goodyear 400 Sweepstakes.
“Richard Petty is an icon in the sports world, so we are proud to add one more accolade to his legendary career as the honorary starter for the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway,” said Kerry Tharp, Darlington Raceway President.
He may be 84 years old but The King hasn’t missed a beat. When asked this past week, he recalled fondly the 2017 incident that forced NASCAR to run an extra lap before the field took the green to start the race and added that he was only able to win there three times in his career.
“Darlington Raceway has always been too tough for me as I only conquered it three times,” Petty said. “I generally ran good but did not always finish well. The last time I drove around the track at Darlington in 2017, I got black flagged. This time as the honorary starter, I’ll be holding the flag!”
A Few Tire Notes:
Tire: Goodyear 18-inch Speedway Radials
Set limits: Cup: 1 set for practice, 1 set for qualifying and 11 sets for the race
(10 race sets plus 1 set transferred from qualifying)
Tire Codes: Left-side — D-5168; Right-side — D-5122
Tire Circumference: Left-side — 2,254 mm (88.74 in.); Right-side — 2,280 mm (89.76 in.)
Minimum Recommended Inflation: Left Front — 20 psi; Left Rear – 22 psi;
Right Front — 48 psi; Right Rear — 44 psi
Throwback weekend – Goodyear to run white-lettered sidewalls at Darlington this year: In support of the sport’s “throwback” initiative, the Goodyear tires run at this weekend’s races will feature a different sidewall design than teams normally run . . . Goodyear will throwback to the early 1980s when the race tire line was aligned with the Eagle brand performance passenger tires . . . Goodyear Racing ran white letters until 1992 when it transitioned to the now-standard yellow.
Goodyear Blimp – Florida-based airship over Darlington all weekend: “Wingfoot Two” will be in the air over Darlington Raceway for the entire weekend . . . this airship is based out of Pompano Beach, Fla. . . . Wingfoot Two will provide aerial coverage of all three of NASCAR’s national series races at Darlington for Fox Sports.
Darlington Raceway has perhaps the most abrasive track surface on the NASCAR Cup circuit and that, as it turns out, is a good thing for race fans. Teams will see more than two seconds of fall-off on their tires as a run progresses, which means that drivers who are able to manage their tires and be easier on them early in a run will gain track position on the field late in a run. That results in more comers and goers and a lot of passing throughout the field, making for a competitive and entertaining race for the fans. With 11 sets of tires for the 293-lap Cup race, teams will change four tires at every opportunity, even choosing to re-pit after just a handful of laps. That many pit stops will make pit crews an important part of the race as a slate of clean stops will help teams gain positions on pit road and not have to do that on the track.