LOUDON, N.H. — There was plenty of talk about VHT for this weekend’s NASCAR race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
The decision was made, in conjunction with the drivers’ council, to lay down the PJ1 TrackBite (aka VHT) in an attempt to give the track more grip, potentially opening new lanes in an attempt to create more passing. New Hampshire races, in the past, occasionally have been dull, dominated by single-file racing, with passes being few and far between.
It’s hard to argue with Sunday’s results.
Denny Hamlin won his third career race at NHMS, doing so in thrilling fashion. He barely held off a charging Kyle Larson, who simply ran out of time after cutting Hamlin’s lead down to about a half-second. At other times during the race, drivers went three-wide all over the place, making for more aggressive racing and, in turn, a more exciting product for fans with 11 lead changes.
Whether that’s simply a result of VHT is up for debate. Drivers seemed split as to whether it actually made a difference.
“I think it’s awesome,” Larson said. “I was surprised at how well it worked this weekend. I liked the element of it changing quickly and wearing out and then wearing out in different spots and stuff. You know, it just adds an element to us that we have to adapt to.
“In the past here at Loudon, you kind of just run the same line all race long, and (Sunday) everybody I got around was running somewhat of a different line, and I thought that was a really cool thing.”
Not everyone shared Larson’s sentiments, though.
“No, I think it really kind of disappeared pretty early,” Danica Patrick said. “The bottom lane had a little more grip than the top lane. The top lane was just there from the beginning. Instead of it being the second lane, it was the third lane.
“Did it widen it out more so you could take the bottom, kind of slide down, come back off early in a run when tires were better? Yeah. But it was still basically the same and still hard to pass.”
Of course, it’s probably worth noting Larson essentially passed the entire field, coming from the rear for his eventual second-place finish. So he certainly wasn’t going to complain. Same went for Hamlin, who also advocated future use of the substance.
It will be interesting to see whether the VHT returns when NASCAR comes back in September for the fall race or whether more recently paved tracks follow suit. Given what race fans were treated to Sunday, it might as well.
Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images