Sunday, July 27, 2008

Race will provide answers about tire decisions

INDIANAPOLIS - Let me say a couple of quick things about the whole tire issue before today's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard gets started.

If this race turns into a debacle, NASCAR and Goodyear will have to deal with that. The story may not pan out to be a big deal at all. The track conditions may improve and the Pocono tires that have been brought in as a backup plan may not be needed.

But right now, there are two things that should be said.

Given the circumstance that exist before the green flag falls, it seems to me that NASCAR and Goodyear and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have dealt with this about as well as they could.

They've all worked together and made a back-up plan. They've got a plan to try to make things as fair for everybody as is possible given the cards the conditions are dealing them and that's about the best they can do.

On the other hand, the question is whether enough has been done to keep the situation from developing the way it has.

It's easy to say now that NASCAR should have brought the car of tomorrow here for a full-blown test to see if the new car would create different challenges. NASCAR and Goodyear did to a tire test here, and nothing apparently jumped out at them or you'd think they would have reacted then. If 45 or 50 teams had come to test and there had been more signs of excessive tire wear, maybe things would have been different. But who knows?

In an abstract sense, you can say that NASCAR is too big of a deal to leave things like this to guesswork. And you can say that Goodyear's job is to bring a tire that works to every track. That latter is clearly more easily said than done.

Goodyear has to walk a fine line between providing tires that will last and tires that can be raced on, and sometimes that line is a moving target. To get things right here, the tire has to work for how the track is going to be at the end of today's race. That target might be missed here today.

The way things are in our world these days, people want to know who's to blame when anything goes wrong. If this were talk radio, I am sure I would have an answer on that for you - talk radio always knows who to blame. (Usually, by the way, that's the liberal media.)

But basically in this deal I think everybody what they thought they ought to do, and we're just about to find out if they got it right or not.

52 comments:

Anonymous said...

At lap 33 this is a joke. Two competition yellows in 33 laps. We'll see.........................

Anonymous said...

Very dissapointing race so far

Dwight said...

"Goodyear has to walk a fine line between providing tires that will last and tires that can be raced on"

what ever the fine line is, they seem to have left it in akron, or somewhere, because this race is a farce. It isn't a joke, because jokes are supposed to be funny. There is nothing funny or entertaining about this mess. This is worse than the Michelin mess at the USGP. Glad I didn't have a ticket.

Anonymous said...

I'm at about the 45 lap mark (via DVR), and yeah, this is disappointing. Oh well, I've got some things I need to do around the house ... so it looke like the race will be on in the background as white noise.

Anonymous said...

Well, NASCAR and Goodyear turned a big race into a joke. Nice job Helton.

Captain Kuchiki said...

The race from what I did see was a complete joke. I really do hope that this is the straw that will break the back of NASCAR and they will finally dump Goodyear. There is a reason why they are not in many other forms of racing right now(many they got out of)its because they make a poor product and don't listen to imput from teams and drivers.

Now if they were to use the Pocono tires. There would have been even bigger issues, mainly the FIA. I'm not sure on the code section in there membership book though. But it states(remembering from 05 F1 USGP, was there and know what the fans feel like at the track right now) that if you are to make a modification to any aspect of conditions(tires, track, direction, etc.) that you must at least have one practice session on the track in order for it to be considered a true race. So if they did go that route NASCAR would be in serious trouble with the FIA and could have possibly lost FIA recognition.

Josh, Warsaw, IN said...

This race was a joke NASCAR knew this was a problem before the race, and got to all the owners and drivers so they wouldn't say anything they shouldn't against Goodyear. All answers to tire questions were right along NASCAR's talking points. This is why they should allow other tire manufactures in the sport i.e. Hoosier Racing Tires.

Anonymous said...

nascar never ceases to amaze. reminds me of a three ring circus. who is the ringmaster?

Paul Stagg said...

I'm embarrassed to even say I watched it. NASCAR racing isn't on my Sunday agenda any longer, but this is a big race on a day I had little else to do.

I have no idea what they could have done to fix that, other than let the race teams determine when to pit, which would have kept the race more competitive, but might have killed someone.

That wasn't a race, it was a long parade with a pit stop competition. Given NASCAR's behavior (see: Toyota engines in Nationwide Series), I think that's what they want.

But the fans will eventually give up.

Anonymous said...

They should've named it the "Competition Yellow 400". I'm disappointed in the track's owners for having a surface that wears tires so quickly. I'm disappointed in Goodyear for not making a tire that would last for more than 10-12 laps. The USGP debacle with Michelin not making a tire that would last is similar. However Bridgestone did make a tire that would last so it shows it CAN be done. Toyota didn't win this race for if they had, NASCAR would probably tell Toyota they had to use restrictor plates the rest of the year for parity reasons.

blpadge2 said...

This race was biggest piece of crap I have seen in nearly 30 years of following the sport. At least we weren't treated to the fiction of "debris" cautions, but come on every 10 laps?

Too bad Big Bill France is dead. He would have told them to run what they can and pit when necessary, ala Talladega 1969.

Anonymous said...

What a Joke, This was not Goodyear fault but Nascar's for not allowing testing and longer practice times. Was it me or did the caution laps increase toward the end of the race. It should have been two laps and back to racing. It seemed like 4-5 laps ea time. It was only to be a tire change not a full race track cleanup. Thanks for wasting my day Nascar

Anonymous said...

Worst race I have ever seen (20+ year fan). Then again, the only thing to sell at Indy for the Cup cars is the build up before the race...most of the "races" are terrible. Same for next week at Pocono. Side note...the races at ORP were pretty good. Maybe it is not the tires or the car, but the track they race on? The only thing that might have saved this race would have been to NOT throw the last comp caution and let the crew chief decide when to bring the car in. Yes, that might have been a bit dangerous, but isn't that what they get paid to do? If we want to eliminate the danger, then why not run only 10 laps at a time at every race?

Mike Lange said...

As a motorsports writer for 25 years - now retired - I limit my NASCAR exposure to the television set.

While we viewers lament the Competition Yellow 400 - a good description from another poster - how about the folks who actually paid to see this goat-roping contest in person?

NASCAR and Goodyear will do their best to downplay this mess, claiming that the problems were due to the track surface, lack of practice, global warming, phases of the moon, etc.

But if you notice the number of empty seats in previously sold-out venues on the Nextel Cup circuit, fans aren't buying the excuses.

And they shouldn't.

Anonymous said...

Well the biggest race of the year, at least for me, turned into the biggest flop of the year. How can a Sporting Body as large as NASCAR screw up a race so badly? It was very obvious from the beginning there were big problems with the right rear tire. I agree the cautions got longer as the race went on just to make sure the tires lasted through the debacle and they would not have to use the Pocono tires. The Fans were the big loosers today.

Anonymous said...

Capt K, Please don't try to link NA$CAR and FIA. NA$CAR marches...oops, sorry...pits to its own drummer and makes rules on the fly all the time.

FIA, from what little I follow it, seems to still be a sport. NA$CAR on the other hand has been made-for-TV entertainment for a few years now. It lost the sport designation when it began to manipulate races to obtain "dramatic finishes". (Note I said manipulate and not fix.)

They weren't able to even produce entertainment today. Much pre-race hype that proved to be just so much hot air.

Richard in N.C. said...

I think the real problem is that NASCAR relies to much on Goodyear and Goodyear does not do enough testing. However, a question I have never been able to get an answer to is why tracks ( such as Indy & Lowe's) do not drag the track with old tires if they have any reason to expect that a green track might result in significant tire wear problems? Dragging Indy with old tires Saturday might have done nothing to help things, but it sure would not have hurt. Thanks.

Diane said...

Posted by anon at 7:09: "I agree the cautions got longer as the race went on just to make sure the tires lasted through the debacle and they would not have to use the Pocono tires. The Fans were the big loosers today."

You are so right. NASCAR probably thinks us dumb fans didn't catch on to their trick.

Anonymous said...

The tires wore out so fast, I thought Indy owners had 'levigated' the track. Remember Lowes Motor Speedway? How many competition yellows were thrown today? I lost count.

Anonymous said...

I posted earlier about the increasing caution laps. My other point that puts a twist in my shorts is why close the pitlane before the comp yellow. I thought racing was a game of strategy. If I was 25th why couldn't I come in on lap 13 and tried for a late run but Nascar closing the pits eliminates that. So we had another controlled finish by Nascar.

SallyB said...

Perhaps this is another good example of why Nascar should get out of the design business. Taking a car with minimal testing and radically different characteristics in downforce and center of gravity....this is what you get.

But really, everything is just perfect in Nascar...best racing ever! And Nascar has positioned itself with these wonderful new generic cars that it won't need the REAL manufacturers anymore.

Anonymous said...

This race was another NASCAR joke, the WWE is more believable these days.

You think NASCAR can't determine who does well in a race or influence an out come?

Since when do you close the pits because NASCAR is going to throw a predetermined caution three laps before the yellow is going to be thrown?

So what if a team pitted one or two laps before the caution if that was their game plan let them.

I think NASCAR was scared that a team other than the front runners might have sneek in and won the race today.

Why do these teams need NASCAR to throw yellow flags any way?

They like to claim how good they are, yet they all had to rely on NASCAR to throw a freaking yellow flag every 12 laps or so, give or take a lap.

If these teams are not smart enough to figure out that they can not go 50 laps on the tires let them blow the tire and park the idiot.

That would let the teams be in control of the race instead of being a bunch of pansy's and NASCAR's BS cautions every 12 laps.

Anonymous said...

Is Brett Bodine eligible for the 5 bonus points (leading the most laps)?

Buck said...

This is not IMS's fault! The problem lay with the lack of competition for Goodyear tire. It sure is amazing how they bailed out of Indy Car and went straight south. What is needed is for Firestone, Hoosier, Hell even Dunlop or Bridgestone to make a tire and lets see how face this joke of a series gets straightened up. I live in Indy and its amazing how many people I knew couldnt even give tickets away to this joke! Thank God we have ORP to give us quality entertainment. This is another reason why I keep going farther and farther away from NASCAR and their change the rules, toe the party line sentences, What a joke!!

Kallie said...

I realize that this was the Allstate 400, but I think that NASCAR's decision to have all the drivers try and qualify for the Safe Driver Discount was a joke! "The Competition Yellow 400" is about right. More like "The Tire Test 400 sponsored by Competition Yellow." I think it would have been more beneficial to red flag the race and run a "Auto Wrecker 50" to try and help rubber up the track. I'd rather sit thru 50 laps of service trucks than those ridiculous heats. Sitting in the freezing rain back in CA in Feb was better than the comfort of my house for this one. Embarrassing.

Anonymous said...

David:

Well, I'd have to say Nascar did not get this right.

Sure, everybody did everything they could today to make the best of it. Trouble is, they waited until today.

Indy is widely considered to be Nascar's second biggest race of the year. The reputation that Indy has over the years with tires is VERY well known as are the other unique things about this track.

To not have done a full test on this track with the new car is just flat out inexcusable and lazy.

Not to mention, when the regular tire test was done back in April, contrary to what is being reported, there were signs of trouble. I saw some of the numbers during the test. And, if you're good with Google, you can find a Goodyear engineer's blog from back in April that expressed extreme concern. I'm sure that will quickly disappear.

In my opinion, this race was no less of a sham than the Formula One debacle at Indy a few years ago. Completely inexcusable and indefensible.

At the very least, NASCAR should refund ticket purchases to all who attended or do something major to try and make up for this.

Just a horrible race from start to finish. And, I do have to say one thing about Brad Daugherty. He's the only press person that had guts to call NASCAR on this. He's right...completely ridiculous!

John Willis said...

I skipped the race, except for about 20 minutes but from what the experts on SPEED are saying, it was the best race of the year. So what if 1/3 of it was run under caution. Those of us who wanted to see racing rather than pit stops just don't know what we are talking about.

Anonymous said...

i am tired of the excuses by nascar. the one that upsets me the most is the latest "the economy is having an effect on attendance...." actually if the would check the facts, tickets sales and TV ratings have been steadily dropping over the past three years. I for one, used to attend 3 or 4 races a year but have since given up my tickets. not due to lack of funds but lack of interest in watching the boys in Daytona ruin this sport.

Anonymous said...

Bridgestone tires survived the Formula One debacle, Michelin tires didn't. I'd suggest Bridgestone as a second tire supplier for NASCAR. With Toyota already in NASCAR, I don't know if another non-US headquartered parent company would be permitted in NASCAR competition, though.

Microtard said...

Can someone please tell me why this tire issue wasn't resolved BEFORE the race? Goodyear is solely responsible for bringing the right tire. If they needed an open test, then they should have lobbied NASCAR until that happened. I can guarantee you one thing. If the right leadership had been in place (like Bill France, Jr.) this never would have happened. I understand why they had to run the race they way they did. What I don't understand is how they got to that point in the first place. Totally unforgivable and totally unacceptable. What a complete and total waste of time.

blpadge2 said...

anonymous at 8:58

The best option would be to let Bridgestone in, but they would have to do it under the Firestone banner. Bridgestone has owned Firestone since 1988, but Firestone used to be the dominant tire in NASCAR from 1947 to 1954 with Goodyear not winning at Darlington until 1959. Firestone was in the sport until 1974.

Bringing Firestone back in would let NASCAR save face by using a name with history, but letting a modern successful Bridgestone solve Goodyear's mess. Maybe Firestone could get the retired Humpy Wheeler back as their director of racing.

Anonymous said...

I unfortunately attended the race (joke) today, a race I have had tickets for several years. What a mess! What a waste of money! Didn't NASCAR have a week or two off where they could have tested more on this track? They are too busy making money and thinking we will still pay for this crap. The economy isn't the reason for declining ticket sales, controlled racing and fixed yellows are! My father had tickets to 6 races for over 10 years, he will attend none next year, not because he can't afford to, because he thinks NASCAR is nothing but a circus and I must say, I Agree!

Wasted Day and Wasted Money.

Monkeesfan said...

Here are the answers we got today -

Goodyear cannot make a good racing tire - every year at least twice will transpire fiascos like this where Goodyear screws up so bad it ruins he race almost single-handedly.

The cars were skating a lot due to lack of downforce - The other main culprit was - yes the COT. It was unraceble on every other non-restictor track before the Brickyard and it was unraceable here. Once again no one could race in dirty air because the COT won't let anyone.

There was zero possibility of a darhorse or first-time winner - Elliot Sadler was theexception hat proves the rule - he ran surprisingly well but had nothing to challenge for anything beyond what he had. No other Dodge made any noise. It's a pattern seen all year that leaves 2008 on a path to a dubious honor - the first season since 1993 without a first-time winner.

NASCAR officially doesn't know what it is doing anymore - The same mistakes get repeated year after year and they're left wonderng why fans no longer care about racing.

Anonymous said...

Something was said about Akron and Goodyear. There's nobody left in Ohio. They all moved to North Carolina looking for a job. You can't swing a dead cat in Charlotte without hitting someone who moved from Ohio to Charlotte in the last 5 years. People need to stay in Akron and do R&D for Goodyear.

NCSRFSH said...

NASCAR spin!
Press release from NASCAR states there were more green flag passes this year than last. This is true, but most passing at Indy takes place on restarts. 11 cautions this year, 9 last year. Thats 140 passes per restart this year and 159 passes per restart last year. Nice try NASCAR.

ironcheftvdinner said...

As stated earlier, Firestone and Bridgestone are sister companies. That is the only reason that Bridgestone had a tire at the USGP in 2005 that would last and Michelin didn't.

When Indy gorund the track early in 2005 they had an Indy car test session along with a NASCAR test session at a latter date. Both Firestone and Goodyear were able to design and produce tires for each series that year after seeing that they needed to completely redesiningg their current tire. F1had no test session, so the engineers at Firestone got together with the engineers at Bridgestone to help them produce a tire for the F1 race. None of this info was shared with Michelin so they came to Indy with pretty much the same tire that they had in 2004. As we all remember it wasn't good enough. Btw, there would have been an Indy F1 race in 2005 had Ferrari not been a bunch of babies and been willing to compromise.

Goodyear needs to do the same for those who purchased tickets yesterday as Michelin did in 2005.

NASCAR doesn't care that a few seats aren't selling, they just up the prices for those who are buying. I would have to go home and look at my tickets, but if memory serves me correct, my Daytona 500 ticket was $90.00 higher this year over last year.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Captain K, do you really think NASCAR cares for a minute about the FIA?

scrounger said...

Two points: Lucky Dog going to a car 14 laps down sucks. Why give a free pass for a controlled caution ? Second point: Why couldn't the crew chiefs set up the car to negate right rear wear ?

Forrest Gump said...

Congratulations to JJ on his win. On another note, This was by far the worst race of the year. They should have called it "The Goodyear Caution Flag 400."
That would have been perfect.

Monkeesfan said...

scrounger - because the COT won't allow them to.

Anonymous said...

This was terrible. No more than 12green flag laps at a time. NASCAR and Goodyear both dropped the ball on this one. It is bad enough the racing as become somewhat boreing with this new car but this takes it a lot further. They should have packed up and went home.

Michael in Jessup Md.

Richard in N.C. said...

I'm not aware of any restriction on how much testing Goodyear can do, except for how much time a track will make available. I still have not heard or seen a good explanation for why the tires were giving off dust, rather than rubbering in the track - and I heard several commentators, including Tim Brewer say they had never seen tires do that.

DAVID- How does the height, weight, and center of gravity of the COT compare to the Cup cars before they were downsized in the 1980's?

Tires acting like they never have before - dusting - sounds like the result of a change in materials. It would seem that tires made of the same components as for 2007 should have still rubbered-in regardless of the COT center of gravity, but I'm not an engineer.

Anonymous said...

There was not enough down force to create enough friction heat to "melt" the rubber into the diamond cut on the track surface. The rubber ground off as dust rather than "smearing" into the grooves. The COT is the worst thing NASCAR has done in my memory. It's IROC with another name and venue. The fans continue to loose, fewer tickets are sold, and soon the big time TV deals will go away. Yes the COT is safer, but couldn't they have mandated the safety designs into the "old" Cup cars?

Anonymous said...

Concerning NASCAR fans, the comment, "They didn't like Sunday's race? Let'em eat cake!" is probably being heard at NASCAR HQ.

Richard in N.C. said...

ANONYMOUS 7:08 - I'm not sure I completely understand it, but your explanation of the dust and not rubbering-in is the best explanation I've seen so far anywhere on the internet. However, if there is enough friction to peel the tires off into dust, how can there not be enough friction and force to force the dust down into the track - unless the materials used to make the tires are different than in the past? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I'm no expert, I'm just thinkung out loud and probably out in left field. The composition of the tires had it's share to do with the problem no doubt. What I'm thinking is that the shearing of the rubber was done with more of a side ways slip than a downward push from aero downforce on the rear end. The old cup cars had a great deal of downforce on the rear end, the COT doesn't have that. Did any of you notice how the COT was almost tracking sideways even when they were going down the straightaways? If you can look at some replays of the race and note the way the car seems to be "crabbing" down the straights. I'm wondering if the COT is so different from the old cup car by having so much less downforce on the rear end that they have to do wierd stuff with the camber or alignment of the rear wheels to get the handling to to be good enough that they can maintain some semblance of speed on the track.

Monkeesfan said...

anonymous #46, you're nailing one of the biggest points of this debacle quite well. The COT is - there is no other word for it - a failure.

Captain Kuchiki said...

Yes if NASCAR is really looking hard at going internationaly, I really would be caring about the FIA.

blpadge2 said...

With the pullout from Mexico City, it is obvious that NASCAR will settle for dominating the US and parts of Canada.

While NASCAR belongs to the FIA it is through ACCUS that it has its membership.

Also the listing of NASCAR events on the FIA calendar is a gimick that Big Bill France started after he built Daytona so that internationally licensed drivers could run NASCAR events without hassles over obtaining a NASCAR license (and help him with gate draws).

mike said...

Did NASCAR learn anything from sundays race? I do not think so. They should of taken some of the cars that were in the back of the pack and many laps down, and switch them to the other tires that were shipped in. The could of use those cars as a test, and learned if those tires were different and worn better or worse. But nothing was done and a great testing chance loss. I do also think that Goodyear and Nascar own the ticket holder who stayed and watch this heat race some money back !!!!!! This sport this week was the laughting stock of the world.

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