Drivers finally starting to get it

March, 13, 2009
Drivers weren't complaining much about the tire issues after the Cup event at Atlanta, which was surprising since lap after lap was like racing on ice.

It wasn't much better than last March when Tony Stewart threw Goodyear under the bus and said he would take Goodyear tires off all his cars at home.

So why so little ire this time around?

The drivers are starting to get it. At some tracks, it's almost impossible to make this size tire race well on this car.

Atlanta Motor Speedway, a very abrasive surface with high speeds, is one of those tracks. If Goodyear makes a tire that has enough grip to race competitively, it will wear out in 10 laps. If it makes a tire hard enough to stay together, the cars slip and slide through the turns.

The shape and weight distribution of the new car is the reason for the problem. Goodyear is working on a bigger tire (wider and taller) that hopefully will improve the situation.

But this is no simple task. The extra size may require changes to the body of the cars around the wheel well. NASCAR officials don't want to make any changes to the new cars, but they may have to so in this case.

Goodyear officials hope to have the new tire ready for the 2010 season, and may introduce the tire this fall.

In the meantime, teams have to make the best of it. Goodyear had a tire test Wednesday at Darlington. More tire tests are likely at tracks where Goodyear officials feel additional data is needed.

Terry Blount

ESPN Staff Writer



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