Friday, March 18, 2011

NASCAR and Goodyear try to avoid major tire trouble at Bristol

Tire problems have cropped up on NASCAR and Goodyear again this weekend as the dreaded tire dust showed up around the top of Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday during the opening practice sessions for both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series.

Instead of the rubber sticking to the racetrack, it was shaved off the tires as the cars drove through the corners and caused excessive tire wear. This year, NASCAR and Goodyear decided to bring a new right-side tire compound, and they quickly found out it was not going to work.

Since the Car of Tomorrow debuted in the Cup series in 2007, Goodyear has struggled to develop a tire that works well with the new car. It has gotten better, however, as Goodyear has had more time to work with the car and tires have become a non-topic most weeks.

The problem came to a head during a debacle at the Brickyard in 2008 where tires came apart after just 10 laps of racing, but there were plenty of other struggles that season, notably the spring race at Atlanta where Tony Stewart smashed Goodyear for a right-side tire that made the cars extremely difficult to drive and a less-than-spectacular race.

“There isn't anybody, I don't think, who is happy with the tires we've got,” Stewart said after that race. “After 10 years in the Cup Series, you learn to be highly disappointed with everything that Goodyear does.”

Thankfully, this time NASCAR and Goodyear were proactive and ordered in 1,300 new right-side tires to use Saturday and Sunday, which were the compound that was used in last year's races at Bristol.

However, this doesn’t excuse how the tire situation for this week got to this point. One would hope Goodyear did proper testing and simulations before bringing a new tire to the racetrack, but that hasn’t been confirmed and there wasn’t a tire test at the racetrack itself leading up to this weekend.

Here’s an idea: Before Goodyear brings a new tire combination to a racetrack, it must have conducted a tire test at that track beforehand. I don’t think this situation would have come up if a tire test had been held at Bristol sometime between the August race and now.

Goodyear typically holds tire tests at tracks that have recently been repaved, such as Daytona this year and Darlington two years ago, but maybe the same needs to be done when a new tire is going to be brought to the track, as well.

NASCAR and Goodyear hopefully avoided another major disaster this weekend. After the exciting start to the season, NASCAR can’t afford a terrible race, especially at Bristol.


  1. Yea not sure why the tires are so affected - Kurt seemed to indicate the balance of the car might be different this year than last and the fact that there is no Truck race in the Spring race to add rubber to the track.

    Like your idea JM, problem is they don't have enough time probably to tire test that much...I think Goodyear brings new compounds a lot. Others might know more though..

  2. In light of the Indy debacle why would you even need to tell NASCAR or Goodyear to test a new tire before using it in a race? It really is an unacceptable situation and the responsible indivduals should be called on the carpet to explain how this happened.

  3. klvalus - I see what you're saying, but they had an entire offseason to do some sort of testing. I know the winter weather at Bristol doesn't make it easy, but I think Goodyear made a model of the Indy surface after that problem came up. Maybe they could've done something like that in this case, as well.

    Anonymous - Sounds like nobody has answers as to why this happened, but they did say the teams asked for a new compound. Too bad this is what they got.