NASCAR: Drivers prefer resin-covered racing surface rather than PJ1

BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN - AUGUST 22: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 Cincinnati Chevrolet, and Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, lead the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 22, 2021 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway was different than what we’ve seen before. Typically, the NASCAR sanctioning body would spray PJ1 in the corners in an attempt to create grip for multi-groove racing. PJ1 made grip but would make racing less entertaining as cars drive significantly easier through the grip.

For Sunday’s Firekeepers Casino 400, NASCAR ditched the PJ1 in place of resin in the corners. Like PJ1, the goal is to create a multi-groove racing surface. However, the resin made the cars still difficult to drive, and we saw one of the best races at Michigan International Speedway in recent history.

The race was in a sense a hybrid version of a superspeedway race. Cars were bump drafting down the straightaways and working together at high speeds. There was a lot of three or four-wide racing, and it led to an entertaining race.

NASCAR used resin in the corners at Nashville Superspeedway in June and saw entertaining racing come out of it. Nashville is a concrete-covered racing surface while Michigan isn’t, so teams weren’t sure if the racing product would be as good on Sunday.

However, drivers and fans seem to agree that the resin makes for better racing.

Ryan Blaney: “You could go up there and feel it. I didn’t think it was, like, overkill amounts of grip, like the PJ1 had here. I thought the PJ1 had crazy amounts of grip. I thought the resin kind of wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad either. You could kind of play around with it while also running the bottom or the middle. I thought it was thumbs up for me.. I thought it was good middle ground between not having anything and the PJ1”.

Tyler Reddick: “Resin showed that it had promise. We got to use it in Michigan, and seeing how much different it was compared to what PJ1 has been like Michigan in the past was very promising as well. I’m definately excited to use it at tracks where we’ve used PJ1 in the past. You could move around on it, it wasn’t icy before it got worked in. [There’s] more grip available when it hasn’t been ran on, but it doeasn’t get so gripped up and ridiculous that you can’t run anywhere but in PJ1. I though that was a great gain with the resin”.

William Byron: “I was always kind of against the PJ1 because I felt like it was unpredictible and it was causing a lot of crashes in practice. When you watch the Truck Series or Xfinity [Series] guys go out there and crash right away, that isn’t really fair. It’s not neccessarily driver error, some of it is the track. I think the resin has made the track more foregiving. When I went to block the No. 11 [at Michigan] and held him off, I was up there in the resin and way too high because of the contact there and saved it — I don’t know if that would’ve happened with the PJ1. So, I think it’s better to not have someting on the track that is detrimental and makes you race more cautiously. I feel like having a little bit more grip and an option to go to, but not something that is dominant is perfect”.

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to action on Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway.