Changing surfaces has made the tires slow to warm up, drivers say. (Nigel Kinrade/LAT photo)
Leading NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers believe new track surfaces, not the Goodyear tires, are to blame for the major grip problems that blighted Sunday’s Kansas Speedway race.
The event featured a track record 15 caution periods, with drivers complaining about a severe lack of grip all weekend. Difficulty warming tires was a major factor in the accidents, but race winner Kevin Harvick said the fault lay with the surface, not Goodyear.
“Obviously everybody was battling the tires and the track, and I think it was like driving on a razor blade,” he said. “I don’t think there were any issues with the tire. I think the issue is the pavement and the things they keep repaving these racetracks with that puts Goodyear in a box.
“It’s not Goodyear’s fault; they have to make a tire that’s not going to blow out. So when you’re running an average of 187 or 185mph, whatever the average speed is, they have to make the tire durable.
“[Tracks] continuously put the tire company and the competitors in a box with the type of asphalt that they keep putting on tracks. I think Goodyear has done a fine job with the tire, when you have the cards that they’re dealt.”
GORDON: TRACKS NEED TO RETHINK
Four-time champion Jeff Gordon agreed that action needed to be taken before further tracks were repaved.
“The biggest thing that I want going on right now with repaves is talking to the companies that pave these racetracks and talking to them about looking at the surface,” he said. “It’s not a Goodyear issue. Goodyear is doing the best they can. They’ve got a tough job.
“These surfaces are too smooth, and we don’t want bumps. I’m not talking about bumps, I’m talking about the abrasiveness of the racetrack. It doesn’t dissipate heat, doesn’t wear the tires, and all it does is cause friction and heat and failures, and then Goodyear has to build a very hard, durable tire.
“We’re paving these racetracks with what we’re paving new highways with. This is not a highway, it’s a racetrack and it’s a race car and a racing tire.
“It needs to be looked at differently. We have the same issue in Phoenix, Darlington, every repave that we’ve had over the last six, seven years.”