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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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Atlanta Motor Speedway to delay repave at least a year

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The cries of drivers have been heard. Atlanta Motor Speedway will not repave its track as previously scheduled. Instead, track officials will evaluate the surface following the 2018 race there.

Speedway Motorsports Inc., which owns the track, had planned to have the track surface repaved beginning in late March. It would have been the first repave there since 1997.

Engineers examined the track after the March 5 race to determine if the track surface could last another year with modest repairs. Track officials also consulted with Goodyear and others.

“There’s no question that the surface is worn out, but probably the most powerful lobby this side of Washington, D.C., was the biggest influence,” Ed Clark, president of Atlanta Motor Speedway, told NBC Sports of the drivers. “They kind of put the pressure on. I understand.”

After winning there, Brad Keselowski made his pitch not to repave the track.

“Drivers hate repaves,” he said. “We want to see the surfaces last as long as they can.  But the reality is nothing lasts forever, and this surface has made it a really, really long time, 20 years, I think, this season, and they should be really proud of that.

“My hope is they can get another year or two out of it, and I understand if they can’t, and you have to kind of leave it to their expertise and so forth.”

Clark said that work will need to be done to the track before next year’s race.

“The worst part is down the frontstretch in front of the grandstands,” Clark told NBC Sports. “There’s a lot of issues there. We’re actually going to have to cut a few areas and patch … to make it last through 2018. We consulted with Goodyear on that. They don’t think, as long as it is on the straightaway, it is a big issue from a tire standpoint.”

Clark said that the track surface will be sealed in October and should have the patching done before then.

“Let them go ahead and slip and slide one more time in 2018,” Clark said.

Clark said that while anything can change, he doesn’t foresee being talked out of a repave job too many more times.

“You have to see how the weekend goes and what happens,” Clark told NBC Sports. “We had to patch some places after the Saturday events this year, small places. Hey, if we could go two more, great. All you’ve got to do is walk out there and look at it. It is absolutely worn out. But if the drivers say, hey our choice is to race on this surface as it is.

“There comes a point (when a repave is needed). We do have a few drainage issues we do need to correct, some other things when the time comes. Right now, we’re going to get through 2018 and evaluate and see if that is the time or when is it.”

Clark said that when the track is repaved, Goodyear has expressed interest in having two test sessions to determine the proper tire for that 1.5-mile track instead of the customary one because of the track’s challenging surface.

Clark warns that with the excitement of Tuesday’s news, the day is still coming when the track will have to be repaved.

“I can’t see this going two more seasons, maybe only one,” Clark said.

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NASCAR America — My Home Track: 50 States In 50 Shows — Arkansas

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On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, we continued our series of My Home Track: 50 States in 50 Shows as our trucks rolled into Arkansas!

We visited two short tracks in the state that produced President Bill Clinton and Basketball Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen.

Plus we talked to NASCAR Hall of Famer and Arkansas native Mark Martin about racing in his home state.

NASCAR America: Is there cause for concern with Jimmie Johnson’s performance thus far?

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It’s no secret that Jimmie Johnson is off to a slow start in 2017.

The defending and seven-time NASCAR Cup champion has a starting average of 21.8 and a finishing average of 18.8 in the first five races of this season.

He has just one top-10 finish (ninth at Phoenix), along with 34th at Daytona, 19th at Atlanta, 11th at Las Vegas and 21st Sunday at Fontana.

And let’s not forget he’s 17th in the NASCAR Cup standings heading to one of his strongest tracks, Martinsville Speedway, this Sunday.

On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, we discussed this: After such a slow start to the season, is there a cause for concern over Johnson’s performance?

NASCAR America: Mark Martin is definitely a Kyle Larson fan

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On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin shared his experience of racing in his home state of Arkansas, as well as the excitement he feels watching  Kyle Larson compete in the Cup series.