IndyCar bringing alternate tire to an oval, using 2 compounds in Gateway race Aug. 27


The NTT IndyCar Series will bring an option tire to oval racing for the first time this season, trying alternate compounds for the Aug. 27 race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.

The rules will be the same as for road and street circuits, which require a mandatory use of a new set of the alternate compound (traditionally known as “reds”) during the race. The alternate compound is designed to be softer and faster, but it wears more quickly than the primary compound.

That leads to divergent strategies and often engenders more passing during the race as cars go forward and fall back more quickly depending on their tire degradation.

The alternate tire compound concept has been around for nearly 20 years since Firestone introduced it with the 2004 Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Alternate tires were introduced full time to the IndyCar series with the 2009 season and have been used in street and road course races since but have yet to be used on ovals. NASCAR tried an option tire that was softer during the 2017 All-Star Race but hasn’t used it again.

Firestone also will be using a new tire constructed from more sustainable materials on street circuits during the 2023 season.

After making its debut last year at Nashville, the tires derived from the guayule desert shrub will make their debut in the March 5 season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Bridgestone, the parent company of Firestone, invested $42 million in establishing a hub for planting and harvesting the guayule shrub, which is found in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States.

“We are driving sustainability in every area of our business, and we’re thrilled to be advancing guayule and other sustainable practices in America’s premier open-wheel racing series,” Paolo Ferrari, CEO of Bridgestone Americas, said in a release. “Firestone has a tremendous legacy of innovation and performance in racing, which we will continue to build upon as we move into this new era of cleaner, safer and more sustainable mobility on and off the track.”

The announcement of the alternate tire for the Gateway was among several competition elements that IndyCar unveiled Friday:

–In addition to a new traveling medical unit, there will be several safety enhancements, including mandatory rain vanes to wick water from the aeroscreen in wet conditions; a new rear attenuator and stronger rear-wheel tethers; new rear LED rain lights; new and higher headrest protection; new mandatory steering arm designed for more durability;

–The EM Marshalling System will add EM Motorsports Telemetry, which will provide teams the ability to receive reliable information more quickly from IndyCar (which also will get more “over-the-air” elements).

–IndyCar will make several aerodynamic adjustments, including optional short oval barge boards on road and street course events and an optional underwing sidewall and infill wicker for Texas Motor Speedway. For the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval, there will be a new optional underwing flap wicker, new mandatory stability wickers and a new additional underwing inner bargeboard, and cars will be allowed 3 more degrees of range on the adjustable rear wing. There also are optional underwing road and street course strakes.
o Speedway infill wicker made optional (also at Texas Motor Speedway).

–IndyCar again will hold “second groove” practice sessions at Texas and Gateway.

–The first red flag during the first round of road and street course qualifying will stop the 10-minute clock (the clock runs on subsequent red flags). Firestone Fast Six still features 6 minutes of guaranteed time. The qualifying clock now will start when the first car crosses the alternate start-finish line.

Eli Tomac wins Seattle Supercross, ties Cooper Webb in championship points


In the past two weeks, Eli Tomac lost his momentum and with it the Monster Energy Supercross red plate to Cooper Webb, but a gutsy performance in Seattle gave him a sixth win of the season as he and the series heads into an off week tied. Tomac is currently tied in the points with Webb.

With this win, Tomac also ties James Stewart for second on the all-time wins list at 50 with six rounds remaining in 2023.

“I needed that bounce back,” Tomac told NBC Sports’ Will Christien. “It was almost like I was in a little bit of a slump in the past couple of weeks; just a little bit off. I’m feeling much better now. That track raced really cool. There were a lot of different lines out there.

“It was obviously very dicey early on. I got passed and then had to make those passes back.”

Tomac suffered with a stiff neck in Indianapolis two weeks ago when he lost the red plate to Webb for the first time in 2023. In that race, he scored his worst finish of the season in eighth. He lost more points in Detroit after finishing a distant third behind Chase Sexton and Webb. This is the fifth time this season that Tomac and Webb finished 1-2 in a race. Tomac has won them all, but Webb has been more consistent.

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Seattle

Webb was disappointed to lose the ground to Tomac, but he will enter the Glendale, Arizona race with a red plate and a share of the points’ lead.

“It was overall a great night to get up front and get a second was great,” Webb said after the race. “Those few spots where I would get close to Eli and then make a mistake.

“The track was gnarly. It was no joke. It was cat and mouse as to who could ride the cleanest race and pick the line. I got off to a decent start, but Chase and Eli were ahead of me and I had some catchup to play and got into a good position.”

Early in the race, Sexton was indeed ahead of Webb and the remainder of the field. Another costly mistake sent Sexton to the ground. He battled back to finish fifth but is now 22 points out of the lead and in jeopardy of dropping out of championship contention unless Tomac and Webb have problems.

Rounding out the podium was Justin Barcia, who scored the third-place finish on his birthday

“Awesome ride,” Barcia said. “It was a lot of fun. I’m sure we kept the fans on their feet tonight. The track was gnarly. […] We’re searching; we’re so close to having that speed. We want it so badly. We’ll keep pushing hard and going for that win.”

Sexton’s mistake kept the three top points’ earners of 2023 from sharing the podium for the sixth time in 11 rounds, but the trio finished 1-2-3 in Heat 2 with Webb first, Sexton second and Tomac third.

The 250 West contenders were back in action after giving the last four rounds over to the East riders and Jett Lawrence picked up where he left off in Oakland: In Victory Lane. Lawrence scored his fourth win in five 250 West rounds. Last week his brother Hunter Lawrence tied Jett with 10 wins, but everyone knew it would not take long for Jett to regain the advantage.

Between them, the Lawrence brothers have won all but one race each in their respective divisions.

Lawrence rode a patient race in the Main. He settled in behind Stylez Robertson and concentrated on navigating the ruts mistake-free. He could not afford to be patient any longer when Cameron McAdoo caught up to the leaders. Lawrence found a second gear and gapped the battle for second.

An incident in their main made the battle between Lawrence and McAdoo more dramatic. While racing for second, the pair of riders ran out of room in the rhythm section. Both crashed but had a large enough lead over fourth to maintain their positions.

“It was a very eventful day,” Lawrence told NBC Sports’s Daniel Blair, answering a question about the earlier contact. “[…] It’s good to be back racing. It’s been a while. I feel like I’ve had another offseason. Glad to get out in one piece tonight.”

Lawrence now has a 23-point advantage over the field with four rounds remaining.

Click here for full 250 Main Results

RJ Hampshire finished second in his race and is second in the points after a seesaw affair that produced the final pass for position just before the white flag was displayed.

“I felt like I had a pretty good pace going for a little bit,” Hampshire said. “I closed the gap and then had a couple of big mistakes that almost put me on my head. I backed it off a little bit.

“Cam actually gapped me a little more than I would have wanted. I knew I could get a push there at the end. I thought that was the last lap, which is why my pass was a little more aggressive than it should have been, but I’m stoked to be able to close the gap a little bit.”

McAdoo took the final spot on the podium. This is the fourth time in 2023 these three riders have shared the box and if not for a sixth-place finish in Anaheim 2, he would be mounting a much more formidable challenge for the points’ lead.

“The track was really demanding tonight,” McAdoo said. “It did change a lot and the key thing was to get off the rhythms every time. We were swapping back and forth.”

Enzo Lopes in fourth and Max Vohland rounded out the top five.

Robertson had the early lead but when he lost the top spot to Jett he cross rutted on the next lap, crashed hard and failed to finish.

2023 Race Recaps

Detroit: Chase Sexton inherits win after Aaron Plessinger falls
Indianapolis: Ken Roczen gets first win in more than a year
Daytona: Eli Tomac extends Daytona record with seventh win
Arlington: Cooper Webb wins for second time, closes to two of Tomac
Oakland: Tomac ties Ricky Carmichael with 48 wins
Tampa: Webb gets first 2023 win
Houston: Tomac bounces back from A2 crash to win third race of 2023
Anaheim 2: Triple Crown produces new winners Chase Sexton, Levi Kitchen
San Diego: Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

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