FORT WORTH, Texas — Tires remained the hot topic at Texas Motor Speedway, where NASCAR and Goodyear took the unprecedented step of discussing the compound selected for Sunday’s race before a single lap had been turned.
Goodyear’s multi-zone tread tire is making its season debut at Texas, where speeds inched toward 200 mph in Friday’s opening practice session.
There was one major incident, 100 minutes into practice, when Kurt Busch wrecked hard into the outside wall. Busch, winner of last week’s race at Martinsville, appeared to blow a left rear tire before losing control of his Chevrolet and crashing.
His car caught fire, and as his Stewart-Haas Racing team pulled out the backup, Busch said the left rear tire started to separate on the backstretch.
The left side tires being used at Texas are the same ones Goodyear has used at the last two races here.
The multi-zone tread tire combines two distinct rubber compounds on right-side tire, with the outside 10 inches of tread designed for traction, and the compound on the inside two inches is designed for durability.
But a handful of drivers publicly expressed concern about tire wear and durability on Texas’ high banks. The concern comes two races after a flurry of left-side tire failures at California led many drivers to question Goodyear’s product and preparation.
Greg Stucker, Goodyear director of race tire sales, said the manufacturer is confident the selection for Texas will be just fine.
“Historically, Texas has not been a race track where we have a lot of left-side problems,” he said. “We addressed the right side because it is a high-speed race track, and that’s what gets stressed tremendously here. That’s why we came with the zone tread tire, because it was a good solution to that.
“I think on the heels of some of the issues we saw at Fontana, people are asking the question, ‘Is there a possibility we could see the same thing?’ There’s always that possibility.”
But both NASCAR and Goodyear are adamant that any issues that occurred at California were self-inflicted and that will again be the case at Texas.
“People are always pushing the envelope, always trying to stress all parts of the race car,” Stucker said. “We understand that and support that. That’s what makes racing great, right?”
Joey Logano blew two tires at California in practice and his Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski blew three. He admitted Friday that the organization was aggressive with the minimum air pressure recommendations from Goodyear.
“I think it was field-wide. I think everybody was being pretty aggressive,” he said.
Although some teams have gone to NASCAR and asked the sanctioning body to monitor air pressure, NASCAR does not want to begin regulating. It would instead prefer teams to roll the dice on strategy.