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New pavement Hoosier Late Model tire debuts at Speedfest

Speedfest on Saturday at Watermelon Capital Speedway is a leap into the unknown.

That’s because the race will be the first ever for the new Hoosier ST line that will be used across the various ASA national and regional tours this season. Specifically, Speedfest will be contested using the left side ST1 and the right side ST2 this weekend.

While the feedback from the past two days in South Georgia has been generally positive, everyone says the first actual race on the new product will determine a lot of how everyone feels about it.

For example, Stephen Nasse says despite the extensive testing, no one has put the tires through exactly what they will go through once a green flag drops.

“I’m really happy with them,” Nasse said of the tires. “We don’t have a lot of time on them, just a couple of hundred laps on a set of tires and they definitely hold up better than what the 45s did or any other compound we’ve run.

“I’ll just be curious to see how it races. Practice is one thing but racing is another. When you go out there and start buzzing up the tires, it’s different than anything else you do. You never go out there in practice and buzz them but you don’t always have a choice when you start racing someone.”

Cole Butcher, an multiple time Oxford 250 winner and Redbud 400 winner, is worried about the lack of fall off in these tires … especially in the cold.

“It might be good, it might be bad,” Butcher said. “We might be Pro Late Model racing in Super Late Models tomorrow.”

Why that’s a bad thing is something Butcher articulated as well.

“It might be difficult to pass because everyone can go hard and there won’t be a lot of fall off,” Butcher said. “I know we can hit the same lap times 20 laps in a row, and so can Bubba and Casey. That makes it kind of scary because they are really fast and you can tell in qualifying who is going to be good and who falls off but with this tire, you can’t immediately tell who is going to fall back.”

Bubba Pollard, the most decorated racer of this generation, shares those concerns.

“That’s kind of what I was afraid of when they announced this deal,” he said. “It’s basically an ARCA Midwest Tour tire. When we ran it up there for the Joe Shear race, it didn’t fall off.

“You had to be really aggressive and run the car hard, pretty much the whole race. So, it’s possible it ends up like that, especially this time of year.

“If you go to different places, the left side could give up too so I don’t if the left rear will give up. The right side is way better than the left side. But that’s just my opinion so far and it could be a case where the left side gives up. We’ll have to see tomorrow.”

But beyond that, racers have been generally enthusiastic about the tire this week, especially after the COVID years where tire supply chains left racers frustrated with production consistency.

“We went through a big problem with the tires being too fresh, coming apart on us and just crazy shenanigans,” he said. “We needed a durable tire that wasn’t going to cost the racer extra money, that you can put on the car and not worry about it.

“There for a little while, it was kind of a worry to have that durability and control so I do think the racing will be better for it.”

Matt Weaver is the owner and founder of Short Track Scene. Weaver grew up in the sport, having raced himself before becoming a reporter in college at the University of South Alabama. He also has extensive experience covering NASCAR, IndyCar and Dirt Sprint Cars.

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