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Goodyear continues examination of Kyle Busch’s Daytona 500 tires

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Goodyear officials have sent the tires that were on Kyle Busch‘s car when it wrecked in Sunday’s Daytona 500 for further testing. Busch lost control, spun and collected several other cars, including Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was leading the race at the time.

On Wednesday morning’s “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, Goodyear director of racing Greg Stucker said Busch’s tires arrived Tuesday at company headquarters in Akron, Ohio.

“Our engineers went over them very thoroughly, just to make sure we didn’t miss anything at the racetrack,” Stucker said. “We feel we didn’t.

“We sent them down to our research facility, where we have forensic specialists if you will, that can really do a deep dive into all the different components, all the different parts of the tire and look at them in a lot more detail than you can visually with electron microscopes and a lot of other different tools they have at their exposure.

“It’s very impressive some of the detail they can go into and we’ll find out as much as we can. That takes a little bit of time to do, but that’s in the works.”

Goodyear engineers also looked at video of Busch’s accident for any other clues.

“We want to see if we can see anything,” Stucker said. “We can look at the attitude of the car, did we see anything come out from under the car that might have indicated he ran over anything or any contact.

“We didn’t see anything there again. The other thing is the spin itself. We look at the way the skid marks come from the tires themselves. A tire that’s deflated makes a different skid mark than a tire that is inflated.”

Goodyear officials paid extra attention to the right rear tire on Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry, Stucker said.

“It appears as though the right rear tire was still inflated when Kyle spun, and that’s pretty consistent with the way the tire looked itself,” Stucker said. “The tire was flat-spotted, and normally it won’t flat spot through a tire. It’ll just wear through it.

“So that’s pretty consistent. We’ve also stayed in constant communication with the team, if they’ve discovered anything when they got the car back and trying to look through things. We want to make sure they’re very aware of what our analysis is.

“As soon as we know something, then obviously we’ll make sure the team is very well aware of what the findings were.”

Stucker said Goodyear produced between 3,500 and 4,000 tires that it brought to Daytona for all three major NASCAR series teams: Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Trucks.

Busch’s tire issue was one of only a few during Speedweeks, Stucker said.

“We’re very comfortable with overall how Speedweeks went, it kicked the season off and now we’re off to Atlanta this week,” Stucker said.

Goodyear will return to Daytona in April for a tire test. Goodyear will look at a softer tire, which Daytona 500 race winner Kurt Busch has suggested.

“Daytona was one of those we felt like that it’s starting to lose a little bit of its grip from its repave several years ago,” Stucker said. “So we had on our docket to go back there in April and do some testing.

“In conversation with the garage area, the competition group of the teams and with NASCAR, they’d also look at some different aero packages and configurations. We’re going to do that in April, taking some tires back that give a slight increase in grip and is it possible to marry them with some of the aero changes that NASCAR and teams are looking at and see if we can come up with a little bit different package.”

 

Goodyear has tire tests scheduled April 4-5 at Michigan and April 25-26 at Indianapolis.

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My Home Tracks: New Mexico’s the Land of Enchantment and home of Cardinal Speedway

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The state of New Mexico is known more for IndyCar racing, with the Unser family being the state’s favorite sons.

Al Unser won four Indianapolis 500s, brother Bobby three and Al’s son Al Jr. a two-time winner (this weekend’s 500 marks the 25th anniversary of Little Al’s second 500 triumph).

But there’s a strong grassroots racing scene in the Land of Enchantment, particularly in the far southeast corner of the state at Cardinal Speedway, a half-mile dirt track in the little town of Eunice.

NASCAR America continues its My Home Track series of 50 states in 50 shows.

Wednesday, we visit New York state.

2018 NASCAR schedule changes: EVP Steve O’Donnell breaks it down (video)

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On Tuesday’s edition of NASCAR America, NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell joined us to discuss the NASCAR Cup schedule changes in 2018, including running a road race at Charlotte and having Indianapolis be the final race before the playoffs.

“I’m real excited about these changes,” said O’Donnell, who cited unprecedented cooperation between NASCAR, its teams, drivers and sponsors to reach agreement on the schedule changes.

Among the key changes: Las Vegas will kick off the 10-race playoffs in 2018 (Chicagoland Speedway, which will have hosted the last seven playoff openers, will return to its more traditional race date in early July/late June and serve as a run-up to the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona.

Several other changes include:

  • The fall playoff race at Charlotte will move up a couple weeks in the schedule and also incorporate competition on both the infield road course and part of the speedway itself.
  • After 14 years as the deciding race to qualify for the NASCAR Cup playoffs, Richmond International Raceway will now become the second race of the playoffs.
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway will see it’s Brickyard 400 go from late July to become the final qualifying race for the playoffs in early September. While still in the rumor stage, there’s a lot of talk that IMS may change the race to something akin to its Verizon IndyCar Series Indy Grand Prix race in mid-May, where half the race is run on the infield road course and the other half on the traditional racetrack surface.

Catch up on all the changes in the above video.

Tony Stewart pulled over by state trooper, but it’s not for speeding

Photo courtesy Damein Cunningham Twitter account
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Retired NASCAR Cup driver and team co-owner Tony Stewart was stopped by an Illinois State Trooper over the weekend near DeKalb, Ill., about 90 minutes west of Chicago.

But before you think Stewart was stopped for speeding by Trooper Damein Cunningham, he wasn’t.

Rather, Cunningham pulled Stewart over for improper lane usage, although exactly what the infraction was is unclear.

After getting a verbal warning, Stewart gladly posed with Cunningham for a selfie, which the trooper promptly tweeted out.

“Just pulled over NASCAR LEGEND Tony Stewart on I-88 in DeKalb, IL, what you think I got him for? #NASCAR #ISP”

But according to the Chicago Tribune, Cunningham’s bosses apparently didn’t have a sense of humor about the incident or realize the good PR it meant for the Illinois State Police.

That, or they’re not Stewart or NASCAR fans. They ordered Cunningham to delete the tweet, which he did.

It’s unclear what Stewart, who was stopped on his 46th birthday, was doing in the Land of Lincoln.

But his luck went from bad to worse a few hours later. According to USA Today, Stewart and others were stuck in an elevator in a Madison, Wisconsin hotel for about 20 minutes before being rescued by firefighters.

We can just imagine what the elevator riders talked about while trapped.

How much do you want to bet Stewart said, “Man, do I have a story about a cop that I have to tell you.”

Cunningham then posted another tweet on Sunday after attending church services.

 

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All-Star Race will remain at Charlotte in 2018

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images
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NASCAR confirmed that the All-Star Race will be held again at Charlotte Motor Speedway despite more of a push from competitors and others to move the event.

Criticism was raised after last weekend’s 70-lap event featured only three lead changes. Kyle Busch took the lead on the restart to begin the final 10-lap stage and went on to win. It marked the fourth time in the last five years the All-Star winner led every lap in the final stage. In 12 All-Star Races at Charlotte since the track was repaved, there have been two lead changes in the final five laps.

Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations, was clear in a call with reporters Tuesday that the All-Star Race is set for Charlotte.

“We’ve finished our discussions for ’18,” he said. ” We’ll begin looking at ’19 and beyond in the near future.”

The All-Star Race debuted at Charlotte in 1985, moved to Atlanta in 1986 and returned to Charlotte the following year. It has been held at Charlotte ever since.

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