This Week in Nascar – 3/14/08

This Week in Nascar
by Virginia Vroom of

Described as embarrassing and crap, Goodyear is certainly a name
that has not earned the reputation in Atlanta that it wanted. Few could
argue that the excitement of the race was not nearly as interesting as
Tony Stewarts tirade against Goodyear afterwards. Quite frankly, I was
in shock. What kind of driver spends time in the media on such a
rambling tirade about tires? Evidently, Tony Stewart is that kind of
driver. Honestly, I would be surprised if anyone but Tony went on such
a rampage, but it was more or less a reflection of his true character
that Gibbs has made an effort to stifle over the past couple of years
for reasons seen after Sundays race.

“That was the most pathetic racing tire that I’ve ever been on in my
professional career,” Stewart said. “… Goodyear can’t build a tire
that is worth a crap. If I were Goodyear, I would be really embarrassed
about this weekend and what they brought here. It didn’t keep us from
winning the race and how we got to second, I don’t know (

Need I say more? I mean, really, Stewart pretty much summed it up,
right? Granted Stewart is a great race car driver, he doesnt always
know what he is talking about or how to handle certain situations. He
should have handled his discontent with the tire outside of the media
and behind closed doors. Stewart has never been known for his unbiased
opinion, though. Regardless of how he felt, team owner, Jack Roush, let
it be known that Stewarts behavior was unacceptable and his problems
should have been handled in a different manner.

So what about the tires? Do they really make that much of a difference?
For those that watch NASCAR consistently, it is easy to understand what
drivers and teams mean when they are talking about different compounds
on different tracks and how tires are going to win the race. With
this amount of significance at stake, tires are something that are
imperative to a race team. What Goodyear means when they bring
different compounds to the track is that the tires are made harder or
softer depending on the surface of the track, the grooves of the track,
and even the banks in the track. Essentially, tire compounds are
contingent on the configuration of the track. Certain tracks are
concrete while others are asphalt. Think about the difference in wear on
your tires if you consistently drove on one surface or the other. Youd
be surprised how much quicker concrete may eat up your tires than
asphalt. Also, if you consider some of the higher banked tracks, its
evident that the tires are going to wear a different way than a track
with little to no banking. This is why you hear some drivers complain
about the compound of a tire at certain tracks. The tire compound
usually changes from week to week as we move on to different tracks.

The issue this past weekend at Atlanta was that the tires were so hard
that drivers could not race side by side, hence the reason why only 13
cars were on the lead lap. The harder compound makes it more difficult
for drivers because the handling on their cars is affected. This is
another issue with the tire compounds. They change the way that a
driver can maneuver his car around the track. We did see drivers like
Gordon and Jr. echo the sentiment of Stewart, just in a classier manner,
which is what we would expect from any Hendrick driver. The bottom-line
here is that the tire brought to Atlanta was just a bad combination. It
was something that Goodyear tried and failed with. Ultimately, another
tire will be brought and hopefully a better race will be the result for

I have to say that although the drivers said that the tire was terrible,
we can not forget that we saw few wrecks, most of which did not occur
because of tire problems. Goodyears top priority is safety, and they
lived up to that responsibility in Atlanta. In my opinion, this past
weekend was nothing more than a lesson learned. We are moving on to
Bristol this weekend where the tires will hopefully be better because
the drivers have a lot more to worry about on quite possibly the best
track in the NASCAR series.