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Bristol tires threaten to break NASCAR’s early season momentum

By admin | March 19, 2011

By Richard Allen

If nothing else, NASCAR and the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company proved on Friday that they have learned from history. Tires became an issue during both Nationwide and Sprint Cup practice at the Bristol Motor Speedway when they showed excessive wear and suffered a few blowouts as a result.

The words, “The track won’t rubber in” were used to explain why the tire problems persisted throughout the day. That means the track was not building a layer of rubber as the laps were driven during the practice. Instead, the tires were producing tiny grains of rubber that were simply blowing away. The lack of rubber on the track causes tires to wear away too quickly.

Those are the same words that were used at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2008 when a tire debacle led to one of the worst races in NASCAR history. That Brickyard 400 featured a ‘competition caution’ every 10-15 laps so that teams could come in and change tires to prevent blowouts and crashes.

Officials from NASCAR and Goodyear announced during the practices on Friday that the misbehaving tires would be taken away from Bristol and new ones would be brought in. Obviously, neither of those two entities wants a repeat of the public relations nightmare at Indy from three seasons ago.

The trouble could be that Saturday’s Scott’s EZ Seed 300 Nationwide Series race will be contested on right side tires that have not been used in practice. The Jeff Byrd 500 Sprint Cup race will be run on a tire with only limited practice time. In both cases there will have to be a certain period of adjustment due to the fact that teams have an unknown factor coming into the races.

That time of adjustment could very well lead to stretches of riding rather than racing as teams conduct an in-race test session.

And worst of all, what if the new tires behave the same way as the replaced tires. Then, there could be a repeat of the Indianapolis race of 2008 on what is often billed as NASCAR’s most exciting track.

NASCAR comes into this weekend having had a number of positive developments play out for them in the opening weeks of the 2011 season. This tire issue threatens to break the feel good momentum.

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