NASCAR Texas 2014: Questions abound about Goodyear tire durability

Jerry Markland

Opinions are mixed on whether the tire problems that occurred at Fontana will also appear this weekend at Texas.

The similarities between Texas Motor Speedway and Auto Club Speedway are many, as each is a high-speed, intermediate-sized oval with aged surfaces.

For many in the NASCAR garage, the similarities, they hope, end there. It was two weeks ago when upwards of 20 teams experienced left-side tire failures during the Auto Club 400 at ACS.

NASCAR faulted the teams for the numerous tire issues at ACS, saying many teams pushed their setups too far and did not follow the minimum air pressures recommended by Goodyear. It was a stance not everyone agreed with.

"I think when you have that many cars that are that close to being on the edge or going over the edge, then the tire is too aggressive or something else needs to be looked at," Gordon said last week.

Goodyear has the brought the same left-side compound to Texas that is has used since 2011, while the right-side tire is a multi-zone design which was used last year at Atlanta and Kansas to mixed results.

Because Texas is a less bumpy track and drivers don't run on the apron here like they do at ACS, the frequency of tire failures is expected to be less. A Goodyear spokesman said the tire manufacturer was confident in its tire selection since Texas historically has not had tire problems.

Even so, some have called for NASCAR to mandate minimum tire pressures.

This, however, is something the sanctioning body has no plans to do. Instead, officials will leave it up to individual teams to decide whether they want to tempt fate and run lower air pressures then recommended.

"I'm proud of [the teams] to push the limits like that," said NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton, himself a former crew chief. "But they also know they have to finish races. They know better than we do.

"We're just the governing body. They're the competitors. They've got a lot on the line. They're the best at pushing it to the limit. They'll adjust accordingly."

Opinions vary whether Sunday's race will see a rash of failures similar to what occurred at ACS. One driver against NASCAR intervening is Kyle Busch, who won the Auto Club 400 and did not experience any issues with his tires.

"I think it's been more exciting the racing we've had with the rules being loosened up this year, so why do we need more rules?'' Busch said. "I'm against it.''

Conversely, Joey Logano suffered numerous failures throughout the weekend at ACS. Not surprisingly, he would prefer a harder compound tire with less wear, though he does admit his team was "aggressive" with its chassis setup, which may have contributed to his woes.

"I think everybody was being pretty aggressive there," Logano said. "We were where we wanted to be because the advantage on the long haul was there, so we're gonna be aggressive."

As for wanting a more durable tire, Logano had a straightforward reason.

"I don't really want to blow out tires because it hurts," Logano said. "So I'd rather have something that's a little tougher tire that can handle that stuff."

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