DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.— Bringing a new tire to compete at Daytona International Speedway proved it’s challenges for drivers.
Goodyear brought a new tire compound that was supposed to provide more grip for drivers. The tire provided grip for stability, not speed. However, there were numerous tire issues during the weekend.
On Thursday during the opening minutes of NASCAR Xfinity Series practice, Spencer Gallagher had a tire go down in the middle of the draft, sending himself and Cole Custer to a backup up car.
In the Coke Zero 400, five drivers reported tire issues. The most vocal was Kevin Harvick, who stated over his radio that the tires were “crap.”
Tire issues were the main cause of some of the cautions on the track. However, the problem was not because of issues with the tire, but because of fender rubs.
Because of the nature of drafting, the fenders were pushed in from the beating and banging in the draft. Despite claims from driver’s about the tires, Goodyear saw no issues with the tire they brought to the track.
CONCORD, N.C-- Going into the Monster Energy All-Star Race, the talk was about the new “option” tire that Goodyear was bringing to help spice and liven up the All-Star Race. According to Goodyear, the “option” tire was supposed to fall off drastically after six to eight “at-speed” laps. However, the option tires balanced out with the primary tires during the short 20 lap segments.
Before the first stage began, Daniel Suarez, Ryan Blaney, and Chase Elliott ran the “option” tires in an effort to gain track position. Suarez started from the 19th position, but was the only driver to make the most gains using the option tires in the day time. Suarez gained eight positions in the opening stage.
Although Suarez gained the most positions with the tires, many drivers only saw a gain of one to two positions using the “option” tires.
With the option tires, came a strategy NASCAR could not have imagined.
Between the second and third stages, Mike Bugarewicz, crew chief for Clint Bowyer, put on two “Prime” tires and two “option” tires on the car. On the radio, Ryan Blaney was furious about what had transpired with Bowyer. Per NASCAR, the move was totally legal. The move was legal because the team had put on the four “sticker” sets of the “option” tire before leaving two on the race car. Bowyer was able to get off pit road in the first position, but once the race restarted, he quickly fell to the back.
“It was a good try. Track position is key and you try to do something to get track position and you don’t have the upper hand. They’re better than you on that deal. I think if we would have had tires and started up front, we’d have been hard to handle tonight,” said Bowyer, after he was eliminated. “We were a good car all night long, it’s just this format and the way the race is. You can’t complain about it because it is what it is. It’s the All-Star Race and everybody wants to be a part of it, it’s just unfortunate that your hands are tied.”
Brad Keselowski tried to play a similar move in the break between the second and third stage. However, the move he made was deemed illegal. When Paul Wolfe and the No. 2 team put the “option” tires on, they came back down pit road to put the “prime” tire back on the car after two laps under the caution. NASCAR told the team that they would be unable to use the “option” tire. Keselowski had to run the race on his last set of primary tires. The team missed two lug nuts when the placed the “option” tires on.
“Definitely a tough finish tonight for the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford. We had loose lug nuts after the second stage and having to come back down pit road to tighten those definitely altered our strategy. We just have to regroup this coming week and be better for the 600,” Keselowski stated post-race.
After the race, drivers assessed the “option” tire based on a longer run compared to a short run.
“They weren't bad. I mean, the trend of handling from my car was the same on the yellows versus the greens. I didn't see a huge shift in trends over the run and balance change. So it just had a bit more grip and went faster for a short period of time. I think it ended up in the same spot as the yellows did,” said Jimmie Johnson, who finished third on Saturday night.
The run that I was the leader, Jimmie was on the options, I felt like he closed on me to about the six‑ to eight‑lap mark, then I started pulling back away. The run that I was on the green tire, there was a lot of us on the green tire. I was kind of at the speed that they were at,” said Kyle Larson, who finished second. “We were catching Jimmie, who was on the regular tire. I don't know. Everybody's cars drive differently and stuff. I felt like the handling of it stayed pretty good, though, throughout the 20 laps. I don't know how the lap time looked 'cause I was battling people, so I wasn't really looking at my dash to see what I was running. Yeah, so I don't know.”
Although the initial test of the option tire was not up to par, it could potentially be used in points-paying events after more research and development.
CONCORD, N.C.— After the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with the help of Goodyear, NASCAR, and Speedway Motorsports Inc. officials, Michael Waltrip was able to take laps around Charlotte Motor Speedway to test the difference between the “prime” and “option” tire being used in the Monster Energy All-Star Race on Saturday night. Waltrip ran one lap at speed on the “prime” tire and multiple laps on the “option” tires.
Goodyear has allocated teams in the All-Star race the use on one set of the “option” tires to be used on Saturday night. The option tire is a softer tire compound compared to the prime tire. The addition of this tire allows for strategy to be played during the race. If teams choose to use the option tire for the final segment, they will start behind those who took the primary tire.
Goodyear officials believe the option tire will be a half a second faster than the primary tires. However, they will fall-off within a few laps.
When Waltrip ran laps after practice, he explained the difference he could tell with the tires.
“The difference was how much harder could I run because it’s not set up like our cars Saturday night, for sure. When it hit bumps on the primary, it chattered across them. I wasn’t going to spin out. I ran through the bumps under control. When we put those (option) on, I was able to go across the same bumps, feel the same uneasy feeling, but no chatter. You could feel the same bumps, but the tires didn’t let the car go out from underneath me,” said Waltrip.
Waltrip was unable to feel tire fall off, but believes drivers will feel a fall off within six laps from running at speed.
“I didn’t run enough laps. I don’t think I could get them to with the speed I was running. They’re going to be going 20 to 30 mph faster in the corner. They’ll go away in a hurry, you can guarantee that. I think they will be perfect for six to eight laps then you hang on. Hopefully you have a gap if you are able to use them in a timely fashion and take advantage of them,” said Waltrip.
Although his laps were not at the speed drivers will be running, Waltirp could tell the difference in the tires.
“There is definitely more grip in these tires. You can run as fast on the primary for one lap as you could on the optional because they’re new. after a couple laps, the greens will still go fast and then fall off. Then it’ll switch,” said Waltrip. “The optionals will wear out and the primary’s will have more longevity. I can’y wait to see what they do.”
During practice, Ryan Newman ran 10 consecutive laps on the “option” tire. Based on the calculations of Speedway Digest, Newman was 5.702 mph slower than when he first started. During the only practice session of the weekend, Kyle Busch used the “option” tire to practice entering onto pit road, which will have no speed limit for qualifying. Speculation arose that Ky. Busch did so to help simulate conditions during qualifying.
After practice, Stu Grant, General Manager for Goodyear, was made available to talk about what Goodyear saw during the practice session. Grant stated that Goodyear saw a steeper curve on the falloff for the “option” tire compared to the prime, “It looked to me that the rate of falloff was higher on the option tire. It seemed to fall off on a regular lap by lap basis although it was a little more of a falloff than the prime.”
Goodyear and NASCAR began discussion about using a softer tire began last season in September.
“We have obviously had that discussion with NASCAR. If you go back to the original discussion we had with NASCAR about this whole option tire scenario. It was a conversation we had with them back in September of last year. Our reaction was, ‘Let’s come back to you with questions. What’s our objective? What are we trying to accomplish? What are we going to run?’, a whole series of questions. The bottom line is we are going to go ahead and see what will happen tomorrow night and then have some additional discusions with NASCAR to see if that is what they are wanting to do. But, an option with more grip in a points race that has to last a gas stop is a whole different discussion than one that lasts 20 laps.”
When asked about what the option tire would do after it heats and then cools, Grant was quick to answer. “I think the performance in this situation will be similar to the prime. You will see similar type of falloff,” said Grant.
With three sets of primary and one set of option tires, teams do have the option to not use the “option” tire. “You can do that. You only have three sticker sets of prime and one option. So, you would need to run your prime setup for two segments,” said Grant.
As the weekend progresses, teams will be strategizing when the best time would be to use the optional tire during the Monster Energy All-Star Race. The race will be broadcasted on Motor Racing Network and Fox Sports 1 at 8:00 p.m. EST tonight.
The Food City 500 for Kyle Busch was one that he would like to soon forget. The five-time winner was set to compete for his sixth victory at the 0.533-mile track, but tire issues plagued the driver.
Busch was fastest all weekend in practice sessions, but was did not show speed on Monday.
Busch slapped the wall the first time on lap 211, but was able to bring the car down pit road for repairs. When repairs were complete, Busch was 23rd and the last car on the lead lap.
Busch had battled up into the top-10 before the tire exploded the second time on lap 385. This time the damage was worse than the first one sending Busch and his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team behind the wall and out of the race.
Busch was baffled by what partook on the track.
“I didn’t need anything, I was the fastest one out there those last two runs picking cars off and driving from the back to the front after we lost our track position the first time. We had our issues and we were trying to march our way back up towards the front and get there and thought we were doing a good job of that and trying to be conservative with the tires because obviously they can’t make it through a full distance for us for some reason,” said Busch. “I don’t know, I don’t know if it’s fundamentally wrong what we’re doing, but it seems like all the rest of our five JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) cars are fine.”
Unlike previous tire issues, Busch was advised not to blame Goodyear for the problems.
Goodyear determined that the issues were bad bead related, not heat related. Goodyear made no further comment about the issues.
Busch was the only driver in the field to experience tire issues throughout the Food City 500. Because of the issues, Busch finished in the 35th position. He currently sits 11th in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points just 146 points behind leader Kyle Larson.