LOUDON, N.H. — The traction compound that NASCAR applies to the track surface at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to encourage passing apparently does more than that.
Roush Fenway Racing driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. told NESN Fuel that because the PJ1 TrackBite — formerly VHT TrackBite — resin wears off over time, drivers are forced to make on-the-fly decisions regarding both their cars’ setups and their racecrafts.
NASCAR used the compound during the July race at NHMS, but drivers had mixed opinions on its effectiveness.
“The interesting thing is we’ve got notes from last race where I thought the second run of the race I started feeling it kind of gradually go away,” Stenhouse said. “And as it went away, you just kind of started adjusting your car and your driving style and where you put your car on the racetrack — you start changing that a lot.”
Kevin Harvick’s crew chief, Rodney Childers, said Wednesday that he “can’t stand” PJ1, claiming that it disappears too quickly. David Ragan, however, shared Stenhouse’s opinion that the loss of grip is progressive, and drivers have to continually react to it.
“I think that the VHT wears off a little bit during the race, but it doesn’t wear off in a really quick manner where it’s a light switch — it’s there one lap and not the next,” Ragan said. “I think it worked great.”
Interestingly, the Front Row Motorsports driver claims the biggest adjustment that racers have to make because of the substance happens the first time they drive on it.
“Your mind tells you that you need to drive this way, because we’ve done that for 10 years up here,” Ragan said. “But when they apply that traction compound, you can run in a lane that typically you couldn’t run in. You can drive in a little harder, throttle up a little quicker, so it is different. It takes some adjusting and you have to work on your race car some.”
Given that Friday was roughly 20 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than it’s expected to be Sunday for the IMS Connect 300, drivers are expecting the PJ1 to wear slightly faster in the race than it did in practice.
Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images