Tire Troubles Could Be Big Story at Darlington

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 7 2022

Team Penske drivers Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano talk racing at Darlington on Saturday. The subject may have been tires. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

DARLINGTON, S.C. – Kyle Larson was one of three drivers involved in Goodyear’s tire test at Darlington Raceway for Sunday’s Goodyear 400 and the NASCAR Cup champion said Saturday his advice to his fellow competitors would be to take it easy for the first few laps.

“I actually crashed a couple of times at the test and was able to keep going,” Larson said Saturday before earning the second starting position with a 170.236-mph lap in his Chevrolet. “All of my issues came off Turn 2. I spun off of (Turn) 2 on like lap five and backed it into the fence. Then on my last run of the day, I got loose over there as well and hit the wall.

“I think with them running the Truck race yesterday (Friday night) the patch in turn two should hopefully, be less slick. The transition into the new patch and then out of it is pretty rough, but that’s not really any different than what it was last year. (Still) it caught me off guard when I spun that first time.” 

Two of Larson’s competitors apparently were unaware of his advice. Corey LaJoie’s Chevrolet spun in Saturday’s practice while Brad Keselowski’s Ford spun as he attempted to enter pit road. Neither car was damaged.

Former NASCAR Cup champions Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick each suffered flat tires on their cars during practice. Elliott’s Chevrolet spun and slammed the wall, forcing the Georgia native to a backup. Harvick damaged his car’s diffuser driving back to the pits. Neither made a qualifying attempt. That left Elliott starting 34th and Harvick 35th in the 36-car field.

Harvick said they were attempting to determine if the tire came apart or if it was going low.

“It’s definitely a lot of guessing at this point,” Harvick said. “Fixing the diffuser and not having a backup car and no spare parts … so you gotta go round all that stuff up from somebody else … put that stuff on your car and repair the couple of pieces that were damaged. The big key is just trying to figure out how to analyze your car and not knowing what the circumstances were with the tire.”

Harvick, who joined Larson and Denny Hamlin in the tire test at the 1.366-mile track, said there were no tire issues during the test, and they made 40-lap runs every time they were on the speedway. Saturday, he said they had a left-rear tire issue in 10 laps.

Hamlin, who qualified his Toyota 22nd with a 167.089-mph lap, said the fall off in the new tire was comparable to the one used previously. 

“Myself and Harvick and Larson all thought that it was a very good tire,” Hamlin said. “Good from the very short part of the run (when) you felt like you had a lot of grip and then at the end, you were all over the place like you should be, so certainly I think that probably won’t be part of our story this weekend, which is good.”

Joey Logano, who earned the pole for Sunday’s race with a 170.720-mph lap in his Ford, leads the field to the green flag Sunday at 3:30 p.m. on FS1.


NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying
Darlington Raceway
Darlington, South Carolina
Saturday, May 7, 2022

1. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 170.720 mph.
2. (5) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 170.236 mph.
3. (20) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 169.818 mph.
4. (19) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 169.292 mph.
5. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 169.216 mph.
6. (45) Kurt Busch, Toyota, 169.123 mph.
7. (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 168.955 mph.
8. (1) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 168.839 mph.
9. (24) William Byron, Chevrolet, 168.636 mph.
10. (8) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 168.451 mph.
11. (43) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
12. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford, 0.000 mph.
13. (14) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 0.000 mph.
14. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
15. (48) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
16. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford, 0.000 mph.
17. (23) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 0.000 mph.
18. (17) Chris Buescher, Ford, 0.000 mph.
19. (2) Austin Cindric #, Ford, 0.000 mph.
20. (99) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
21. (42) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
22. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 0.000 mph.
23. (6) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 0.000 mph.
24. (16) Daniel Hemric(i), Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
25. (21) Harrison Burton #, Ford, 0.000 mph.
26. (47) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
27. (38) Todd Gilliland #, Ford, 0.000 mph.
28. (41) Cole Custer, Ford, 0.000 mph.
29. (31) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
30. (7) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
31. (51) Cody Ware, Ford, 0.000 mph.
32. (15) JJ Yeley(i), Ford, 0.000 mph.
33. (77) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
34. (9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.
35. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 0.000 mph.
36. (78) BJ McLeod, Ford, 0.000 mph.


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 7 2022
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