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It Was A Good Day For Goodyear At The Brickyard

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, July 25 2009
Neither Greg Stucker of Goodyear nor Robin Pemberton of NASCAR were smiling much at Indianapolis a year ago. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Neither Greg Stucker of Goodyear nor Robin Pemberton of NASCAR were smiling much at Indianapolis a year ago. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Indianapolis – Goodyear officials insisted they were not worried when the Sprint Cup cars were fired up for the first time Friday afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but they sure looked relieved when the cars were garaged for the night.

Two one hour-long practices were held at IMS in preparation for Sunday’s Allstate 400 at the Brickyard and when they had ended nary a single complaint about the tires was issued by teams or drivers.

In fact, the Goodyears performed to rave reviews.

That was not the case one year ago.

In the 2008 Brickyard race, tires turned NASCAR’s second-most important event into a fiasco.

The tires turned to dust and wore to the treads after just 10 laps.  The track never “rubbered up”. The race turned into a series of sprints from yellow flag to yellow flag.

Drivers apologized, fans freaked and Goodyear vowed not to let it happen again.

Goodyear officials went to work on the problem almost immediately after last year’s race. The work consisted of building and testing, building and testing. In all, the tires rolled for 14,000 miles during the tests.

After the last of those tests, driver Jeff Gordon, one of those involved in them, said they were confident the problem of the powdery Goodyears was solved.

Gordon admitted Friday, however, that as he proclaimed that earlier this season, his fingers were tightly crossed behind his back.

“I think you can do all the testing in the world and say all the positive things you want after those results of the test but until you get here with this group of media and all the competitors on the track and see how everybody’s cars are reacting,” Gordon said, “I think that is when it really counts and matters. “

Late Friday afternoon, Gordon and the rest of the drivers proclaimed the controversy over.
“It’s done,” Gordon said. “They have created a great tires.”

Jeff Burton said, “I really don’t believe there is any tires issue at all.”

Goodyear officials said the longest run on the tires in practice was 27 laps and that after that run, all was well.

Gordon said, “I know we had a run of about 20 laps on a set of tires and there was so much left of them.”

Other drivers said they could have gone on even longer runs but that once the tires were deemed good, the teams opted to work on their setups and that meant more pits stops and shorter runs.

More good news came in the form of reports that the new tires were rubbering up the track.

That will prolong the life of the tires and provide better grip.

“This tire was designed to rubber the track up,” Burton said. “It was designed to lay rubber down. You could see a definite difference just running seven or eight cars here to test. You could see the track change colors early. If you get 45 or 46 cars running, it’s going to rubber up quickly.”

So good are the tires at rubbering up the track that several drivers said they do not fear that rains predicted for Saturday would be a problem on Sunday.

“That would not concern me,” Mark Martin said.

Late Friday afternoon, Kevin Harvick summed it all up by saying, “This is the first time I’ve been here and not had any tire issues, so that’s a good sign.”

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, July 25 2009
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