As Expected, Drivers Disappointed With Goodyear Tires at Indy
For those of you that had the misguided pleasure of watching this past weekend’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, chances are that you were extremely disappointed with the product that NASCAR and Goodyear brought to the table … and, the drivers and their crews were no different. Perhaps the closed door meeting from NASCAR a couple months back asking the drivers to keep the verbal car bashing to a minimum may have warded off some of the overly eccentric tyrades similar to what we heard from Tony Stewart when he bashed Goodyear following the Atlanta race, but nonetheless, many of the Sprint Cup Series’ top faces expressed disappointment in the finished product following the Allstate 400.
Here are some of the quotes from the teams concerning Goodyear’s tire package that they brought to Indy:
Matt Kenseth: “This is one of the two biggest races of the year and to never have this tire here before and not come and do an open test and to work on these things and work on these tires, it’s pretty darn disappointing. We had a great car. I feel bad for the fans. We’re running three-quarters speed because we’re worried of the tires blowing out and they blow out every eight laps.”
Ryan Newman: “It was a ridiculous race. There was no racing involved, other than mandatory cautions. It’s disrespectful to the fans. That’s not the way NASCAR racing is supposed to be.”
Jeff Gordon: “It’s embarrassing and disappointing. I’ve never seen anything like this, and I’m really sorry that it happened in such a big race like the Brickyard.”
Jamie McMurray: “I got really mad in the middle because they were letting us run until the tires were blowing up, and I’m like, ‘You can’t put us in that situation.’ You’ve got to throw the caution before we blow a tire because if someone gets hurt, we could have prevented that.”
Brian Vickers: “The problem is not one thing. We’ve seen all year long that this car is a lot worse on tires. I think everybody has to raise their hand and take some responsibility here. We have to really think about where we’re going and how we’re going to do it.”
Chad Knaus: “There are really only five things that keep a car on a racetrack. That’s four tires and downforce. Everybody has to realize that this car has about 50 percent of the downforce we had in the past.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr: “That’s the most bizarre race I’ve ever run. I was just glad we got through it with no real chaos. I’m ashamed, but there wasn’t much we could do.”
*Earnhardt also participated in a 3-driver testing session at Indy back in April to test various tire packages, to which he stated, “When I tested here they were wearing out (after) five laps, too.”
Carl Edwards: “I knew when there wasn’t any rubber laying down on the track — I couldn’t see any rubber on the track — I thought we were in trouble there. I know everybody was hoping that it would get better by Lap 30 or 40, but I knew we were in trouble then.”
Anonymous Tire Specialist: “The rubber coming off the tire was too fine. It was like sugar. That’s why the track never rubbered up. The whole back of the tire was dust. And everyone could see the fans leaving by Lap 100. It was the most disgusting display I’ve ever seen at a racetrack. The fans that come back deserve half-price tickets.”
Don’t let the criticism misguide you, though. While everyone throughout the garage area was disappointed with what took place at Indy, most everyone applauded the reactionary methods that NASCAR took to keep the race safe and err on the side of caution - literally.
Jeff Burton: “Early in the race we were running three-quarter speed. Late in the race, we ran hard and we had faith in NASCAR to throw the caution. NASCAR did a great job today under adverse situations. I don’t know what they could have done better. I know that NASCAR and Goodyear are going to take a lot of heat for this but you have to also look at the other side of it. There was no evidence that the situation was getting better during practice so NASCAR did the right thing and did a really good job of throwing the cautions. They responded to a problem and I give them credit for that.”
Bobby LaBonte: “It was a wild race out there, without a doubt. You had to pick when you wanted to race hard to pass someone and the rest of the time you just had to bide your time to save your tires. We knew this would be the case going in and NASCAR did a great job with what they had. My car was actually handling pretty good. It was just a little loose, but I was happy with the balance. My pit crew has to get a lot of credit today. This was the most consistently fast day we’ve had all year on pit road. They picked up a lot of positions for me.”
And, of course, as one might expect, Greg Stucker - Goodyear Director of Race Tire Sales - and Robin Pemberton - NASCAR’s Director of Competition - both had their hands full following the race.
Greg Stucker: “Obviously, the tread wear didn’t improve as we thought it would over the course of the afternoon. We don’t have the answer as to why that didn’t happen, so we’ve got to go back and look at that and try to figure out how to make it better. This is the same compound we raced last year and the wear improved over the course of the day to the point where we could run the full stops. That didn’t happen today, so we need to understand why. I don’t think anyone likes to race like this — us included. We’re going to try to figure out what we need to do to make it better, so that’s what we’re here for.”
Robin Pemberton: “I can’t say enough how sorry we are, and it’s our responsibility, being NASCAR, that we don’t go through this situation again. We’ve already got after it, and we’re moving forward with a plan to get ahead of the situation so we don’t go through this again. Once again, I think that it deserves to be said that the race didn’t come off like we had hoped. The fans didn’t get what they exactly wanted, and we’ll do everything in our power, and it won’t happen again, I can tell you that much. We’re going to put a lot of effort toward it and get a better plan moving forward.”
Video of the interviews with Robin Pemberton and Carl Edwards following the race: