By admin | February 15, 2009
By Richard Allen
There were times during the 2008 NASCAR season that were not so good for the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.
After the spring race in Atlanta the tire maker was blasted by competitors. Then, the ultimate debacle occurred at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Brickyard 400 when ‘competition cautions’ were displayed just about every ten laps or so due to excessive tire issues.
Aside from those most well publicized instances there were the usual number of times in which tires were blamed for spins and crashes.
The most outspoken critic of Goodyear of recent times has been driver Tony Stewart. It was he who was most vocal in Atlanta last year and he who has openly criticized the company on several other occasions.
The problem for Goodyear, other than the obvious problem of tire failures, is that now driver Tony Stewart is also team owner Tony Stewart.
Now, tire failures will cost him more than just wins or finishing positions, they will cost him money.
During Saturday’s final practice for the season opening Daytona 500 Stewart and teammate Ryan Newman crashed with each other after Newman experienced a right rear tire failure. Both drivers’ teams had to bring out their back up cars.
Stewart did not attempt to disguise his disgust or deflect blame from where he thought it should be placed. “It’s just a Goodyear right-rear tire,” Stewart said. “So it’s the same thing everybody has been talking about all week. It’s the same stuff that we always talk about every year — the failures that Goodyear has. I think that’s part of their marketing campaign. The more we talk about it, the more press they get. I think they forget that it’s supposed to be in a good way, not a bad way.”
It is a pretty safe bet this will not be the last time one of the Stewart-Haas Racing cars will experience tire problems this season. With 36 races to be run it is just something that is bound to happen. So, the folks in Akron, Ohio, home of Goodyear, might want to be prepared for increased levels of ‘Smoke’ in 2009.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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