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NASCAR and Goodyear baffled by Bristol tyre wear issues

NASCAR and Goodyear officials appeared equally baffled by the unexpected tyre wear issues which dominated Sunday’s Cup race at Bristol but varied in how they should react.

Corded Goodyear tires after several laps

Photo by: Lesley Ann Miller / Motorsport Images

Although Goodyear brought the same tyre combination as was used in last September’s race at the track, it became clear early in the race the tyre fall-off was laying no rubber on the track, which resulted in unusually excessive tyre wear.

Teams quickly discovered they couldn’t go more than 47 to 50 laps before they risked a tyre wearing to the carcass, taking it to the point of losing pressure.

To help manage the issue, NASCAR allowed Goodyear to provide teams with one additional set of tyres during the race but that still caused big changes to the pace of the race and pit strategy.

“We’re trying to understand what’s different, why the track is behaving differently than a year ago,” Goodyear racing director Greg Stucker said during an appearance in the infield media centre late in the race.

“It’s the same package. It’s the same tyre combination. It’s still a bit of an unknown.”

Temperatures in Sunday’s race were within 10 degrees of last September's event, with the only known change being the use of traction resin in the bottoms of the turns rather than PJ1.

However, a visual examination of the track surface after the race showed no areas of rubbering on the concrete surface, regardless of whether the area had been coated in resin or not.

Other than the discarded marbles of used rubber, it was hard to discern that a race had taken place on the track at all.

Excess Goodyear tire rubber on the track

Excess Goodyear tire rubber on the track

Photo by: Lesley Ann Miller / Motorsport Images

The tyre conservation required to manage the race helped produce a record 54 lead changes among 16 drivers. But the issues also contributed to several of the nine cautions that spanned 98 laps.

The series' most veteran drivers filled the top three positions in the race, with Denny Hamlin taking the win, followed by Martin Truex Jr and Brad Keselowski.

“Tyre wear is always the goal,” Stucker said. “That’s what people want to see. It creates comers and goers. Obviously, something is different now. It is too drastic.”

Stucker said he expected that an additional tyre test would be needed at the track prior to the series’ return this autumn. NASCAR, however, wasn’t so sure that much – if anything – needed to change.

“All in all, I thought it was one of the best short-track races I’ve ever seen,” said NASCAR’s chief racing development officer John Probst. “We’ll go back and look at it all.

“There were times in the race obviously when there was anxiety around are we going to have enough tyres to finish it. But, man, coming out at the end and watching all that, I would not want to change much at all, honestly.

“Maybe just give them more tyres.”

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