By: Ashley McCubbin
Another weekend of NASCAR racing in the books, and another instance where fans got to see the PJ1 traction compound.
The chemical compound was created and laid down by the sanctioning body initially to try and add a groove at tracks where it seems one area dominates more so than others, in an effort to spruce up the racing. Though over time, it has become used more often than not on race weekends, resulting in a lot of feelings being expressed good, bad, and indifferent.
For Chase Briscoe and his experience, he says it depends on the usage.
“Some racetracks I feel like it helps and other racetracks I feel like it’s almost a crutch for just the layout of the track,” he told NEWS FROM THE PITS. “Texas, I never got to run the old Texas, but I always thought the old Texas looked like one of the coolest racetracks you could go run at. You have all the way from the bottom to the middle to the fence it was just a fun-looking racetrack, and now it’s obviously pretty bottom dominant and even in 20 years I don’t know if we’re ever gonna be able to run to the middle to the top just because of how the shape of the track is and the banking and things like that.”
There have been some tracks where it has been successful, but Texas Motor Speedway this past weekend was full of mixed reviews. Sure, the All-Star Race had a unique dynamic on Sunday that came into play with drivers able to get a run along the top against those able to wrap the bottom, but the clumping nature brought forth concerns.
There has been also other concerns, such as what it has caused to happen during events, rather than fulfilling the double groove aspirations as they wanted.
“The problem is typically the PJ1 just makes it even more of a one-groove track and instead of being one-groove on the bottom now we’re one-groove in the middle,” Briscoe explained. “It’s tough. I feel like Bristol has been scienced out enough now to where it’s normally pretty two grooves. It’s on the bottom. It’s on the top. We can kind of move around, but it seems like the mile-and-a-half stuff it’s hard to get it to where the PJ1 doesn’t turn into just the dominant lane. I almost think at some tracks it would be better to just leave it off.
“Charlotte, I think, would be better with it off, personally, but it’s hard. I think that stuff is so variable dependent on how many guys run through it, the temperature, how it’s laid down. It’s gotten better over the last couple of years, but I still think it’s just a tough situation because some racetracks need it — some it’s better for and some it’s worse for — it’s hard to really say what’s what.”
Briscoe went onto say lack of practice has certainly changed the dynamics with the compound, too, as normally those laps would help work it in – as it needs heat, and laps on it to become fully activated.
“I think we saw that at Charlotte a little bit with the truck guys going out in practice at the beginning,” he added. “They wrecked a couple of them, so it’s just hard to go out, especially with the no practice now to show up to some of these tracks and just go right away and it be OK.”
As the series gets ready to return to Nashville Speedway this weekend, they will not use the PJ1 traction compound as some expected, but rather the resin. Rather than looking to create additional grip and grooves, this is a chemical that is used to help tires wear out better after seeing cording during testing due to lack of laps there recently and no rubber in the surface.