The switch to Goodyear tires has reached central Pennsylvania. Both Williams Grove and Lincoln Speedways have announced the switch to Goodyears for the 2010 racing season for the 410 sprint-car division only.
The Grove and Lincoln join the World of Outlaws, All Stars and numerous other tracks around the country in making the switch.
Like any change, there are some good things and bad things about it.
At the Grove, the season-ending point fund, along with the weekly purses, will be increased thanks to Goodyear. The Grove’s Diamond Series will also be sponsored by Goodyear. The Diamond Series is a separate point fund for the higher profile races throughout the season.
Lincoln’s weekly purses — for finishers four through 24 — will also be increased. Goodyear will offer a certificate program allowing drivers the chance to earn free tires.
Unfortunately, there will be a split in central Pennsylvania. Port Royal Speedway, as of Dec. 31, has a contract with Hoosier for 2010. This means the 410 teams running both the Grove and Port Royal will have a decision to make. Only run one track or the other, switch their Saturday night track to Lincoln or the most expensive route, buying two sets of tires.
As far as improving the racing, only time will tell. One Posse driver mentioned the construction of the Goodyear tire is a little different than the Hoosiers and may allow for better handling of the cars.
The first test of the new tires in race conditions will be in Florida when the touring groups begin the new season. It will also be a test session for the top central Pa. teams, as most of them will make the trip South.
However, there will be no time to test on local tracks until the season gets underway. Certainly there will be plenty of track rentals to test tires once the season gets going. The Grove did hold a tire test following the National Open in October.
The first sprint-car race in central Pa. is scheduled for Lincoln on Saturday afternoon, Feb. 27. The Grove will open on Friday night, March 19.
The Outlaws have six races scheduled at the Grove. The All Stars have races at the Grove and Lincoln.
The cost will increase for car owners as they will no longer have any tire deals.
With the Hoosier right-rear rule, teams could still negotiate for left rear tires. Now, Goodyears must be on both the left and right rears. The certificate program could help them out.
It has the potential to make for some interesting racing as teams try to get going with the new tires. The competition level in central Pennsylvania was at an all-time high in 2009 with only Greg Hodnett getting to double-digit wins. Most of Hodnett’s wins were in big races including the Grove’s National Open.
Hodnett and mechanic Lee Stauffer had things going good last year, we’ll see if that continues with the new Goodyear tires.
Pennsylvania native Stevie Smith traveled a lot last year, scoring 12 wins at 11 different speedways. He and the Tommy Carl-led Zemco team will be another one to watch.
Todd Shaffer, the Grove and Port Royal track champion, said he would cut back this season. The split may keep the Gary and Patty Beam car away even more since they would be one of the teams forced to buy two different brands of tires.