How does cycling fit into preparation for motorsports?
When you look at all forms of motorsports, the majority of the ladies and gentlemen who drive racecars, we’re cyclists. It’s very similar to being out on a bike ride. The conditions are ever-changing. You’re trying to prepare your body for the conditions, hydration before, hydration during, not bonking during a ride—well, I’m trying not to bonk during a race. I get in a car, and we’re going to race for three or four hours. I can get on a bike and ride for three or four hours. There are many things that have a great correlation for why I want to get on a bicycle and ride because it helps me so much in the race.
Do you have a favorite ride near one of the NASCAR tracks?
I’ve been lucky enough to ride a few times at the Speedway here in Indianapolis. That is the most fun ride. But last year, I did a ride in Durham, South Carolina. You rode two laps on the racetrack, and we left the tunnel and rode 20 miles in the local surrounding area and then back to the track. It was on the day of the race. We got to ride and have some camaraderie. There were a lot of fans who came and rode the ride with us, and then I went on to win the race that afternoon.
What role does tire pressure play in NASCAR? How do you vary pressure for differing track and weather conditions? How does that compare with tire pressure for cycling?
In (NASCAR) racing, one of the things we look at is when you’re on the track, your tires are the last thing touching the ground. The correlation from the centerline of your axle below, your wheel, how the wheel is secured to the hub, and the tire is a significant part of how we get traction.
We range from around the 10-pound (tire pressure) mark up to 60- or 70-pound mark. That is, left-side tires as a minimum and right-side as a maximum. We tend to run a lot softer pressure on the left side and a lot stiffer on the right side. The reason for that is this when you go into a corner, and you’re taking that corner at 170-180 mph, because of the way the inertia is, the right side is taking the punishment. On some race of racetracks, we go to; the left-side tire may be a different construction, so you’re going to bump the air pressure up. We know that heat generates air pressure, so that’s one thing to consider when you’re going out for a ride. Is it going to be hot? Am I going to be on dark asphalt roads, or am I going to be on lighter asphalt roads? There’s a huge difference in how the tire performs through the heat cycle. We take into consideration the volume of air in that tire. Cycling, there are people who understand that.
Riders can use the Zipp tire pressure guide and experiment to dial in their ideal pressure.
Having a starting point is great. Everyone should go and see, what is my recommended pressure. The rider is going to have to find out what’s best for them. When I look at our group of four cars, we have significantly different air pressures even among our four cars. We all have the same recommended starting air pressure. But we all do things differently based on how our drivers are operating.