THOMPSON, CT – Hoosier Tires are now $40 cheaper for competitors on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. The same tire that sold for $190 last year is now being offered, before taxes, for $150.
Hoosier’s contract with NASCAR was up at the end of last season. They got a scare when competitor American Racer Tire made a serious effort to take over the business. American Racer’s bid was so inviting to NASCAR that a private tire testing session was held prior to a decision being made in December.
While tires are now cheaper thanks to NASCAR’s new contract, it came at the expense of a loyalty bonus program that for many years rewarded top point teams with two free tires at each event. Hoosier is now rewarding teams with new cash programs reportedly worth $2,500 per race.
At Thompson, a team was allowed to buy as many as ten tires, but only seven of those could be used in the race. They were also allowed to buy four more tires, only in advance, that could be used only for practice.
Teams on a budget often buy six tires. The four tires used to time trial must also be used to start the race. Since the two front tires and left rear are the same compounds, but the right rear is harder, these teams need to get two spares just in case they get a flat. Only the seven race tires, that are impounded before the event, can be used. Practice tires are marked differently.
These budget teams that ran all the races and were on the loyalty tire program last year now have a higher per race tire bill, despite the cheaper price. When they bought six before at $190, they only paid for four since they got two free, so their bill was $760. Now they pay for all six at $150 and their bill is higher at $900.
A well-financed team that buys the maximum of 14 tires now has a per race tire bill of $2,100, whereas last year after getting two for free they paid $2,280 so they have seen a reduction in cost.
Hoosier’s new contingency program favors the top teams with money going to the driver who leads the most laps and runs the fastest lap. There are two Hoosier Most Improved Awards, however that goes to a driver who improves the most positions during the course of each event. An award will be given at mid-race and then again at season end.
At the series opener at the Thompson Motorsports Park Speedway, Ryan Preece’s crew chief Tom Grasso was very concerned about the performance of the tires chosen for the Eddie Partridge-owned No. 6 this weekend before qualifying. Grasso said he works hard to fine tune every detail of the race car before it arrives at each event, but he has no control over the tires.
Grasso explained that while he orders his tires in advance for stagger, he can’t go through the truck and pick which ones he wants when he arrives at the track. His set of tires is already assigned and at Thompson he worried about them because they had different codes and he wasn’t sure how the car was going to react.
The veteran crew chief felt that some of the tires might have been left over from last year and others were newly made. He saw his car and others change drastically when new tires were put on them and he was extremely worried about the tires that would be on the car on Sunday after their tire change. Preece uncommonly timed eighth fastest. He then finished fifth in the race, rebounding from losing a lap in the pits to repair a power steering issue, a result of a tap of the outside wall.