Some Teams Have Tire Issues
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on March 22, 2014 | 6:01 P.M. EST
This was the left rear tire off of Kurt Busch's car Saturday. (Photo by Dustin Long)
FONTANA, Calif. - Some NASCAR Sprint Cup teams have had tire problems this weekend, but Goodyear said a key issue is with the tire pressure teams are using.
Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. each are in backup cars after tire problems sent them into the wall at Auto Club Speedway. A left rear problem caused Truex to hit the wall in Saturday's first practice session, and a left front problem caused Logano to hit the wall in Saturday's final practice session. Logano previously had a left rear go down.
They’re not the only drivers to have problems. Brad Keselowski had two left rear tires go flat in Saturday’s final practice session, and Kurt Busch had left rear tire separate from the tread after about 20 laps. Jamie McMurray had a left rear tire issue Friday.
Greg Stucker, director of race tire sales for Goodyear, said the “common denominator” with those teams was low air pressure. Goodyear recommends a minimum air pressure of 22 pounds in the left front and 20 in the left rear.
Teams start with low tire pressures so that when the tires heat they reach the desirable level. Lower air pressure also helps the tires grip and can improve handling.
Stucker also noted that it wasn’t solely air pressure that caused the issue for those teams but also their setup.
“I think everybody is just trying to be aggressive and trying to get as much grip as possible,’‘ Stucker said.
Logano said that was the case with his team.
“It’s a combination of air pressure for sure,’’ he said. “Maybe our setups aren’t helping it. Maybe we’re pushing it too far.’’
Daniel Knost, crew chief for Busch, said that Busch also had a tire go flat before the tread issue at the end of Saturday’s practice.
“It seems the speeds are up, the downforce is up here, you know the load is up and it’s just working these tires a lot harder than it has in the past,’’ Knost said.
“This tire falls off a ton, probably more than anywhere else, which says it’s probably a soft tire and now you’re going faster and loading it harder. It just won’t take it.’’
This is the same tire Goodyear has brought to this track since 2012.
“Let’s face it, we really have a different racecar than what we did last year,’’ Stucker said, noting the various rule changes. “Everybody is trying to figure out where they can land with it. The one common denominator is that it is the same tire package. I’m confident everybody will adjust.
“I think it’s just a matter of people are going to have to adjust versus what they used to run because you have different conditions.’’