Tire tampering in NASCAR? Jeff Gordon says, ‘it’s definitely being done. It’s just not clear on how’


MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Having seized tires for evaluation after the past two Sprint Cup races, NASCAR warned teams Friday morning at Martinsville Speedway about the severe penalties for tampering.

NASCAR confirmed Sprint Cup director Richard Buck discussed the issue among several other topics during a meeting with crew chiefs.

There has been rampant speculation that some teams might be poking tiny holes in their tires to “bleed” the air and maintain an optimum level of pressure, which prevents a dropoff in speed as pressure builds (and lessen traction) during the course of a green-flag run.

Jeff Gordon said he believes there are teams using the method.

“When it gets to this level when you’re hearing about it, I’m hearing about it, and they’re talking about things in meetings with crew chiefs, that tells me it’s definitely being done,” he said. “It’s just not clear on how it’s being done.”

NASCAR confiscated the tires of Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick after the March 15 race at Phoenix International Raceway and found no wrongdoing. After the March 22 race at Auto Club Speedway, NASCAR took the tires of Harvick, Kurt Busch, Paul Menard and Ryan Newman, and it has sent some to a third party for further scrutiny (though it wouldn’t confirm whose).

After qualifying second for Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway, Newman shrugged off being one of the teams under evaluation.

“In my educational career, I’ve been called to the principal’s office a few times, and a few times let go for whatever, so from my standpoint, it’s just a matter of them doing their job, whether you’re guilty or not guilty, it’s their job of keeping the sport at a level playing field,” the Richard Childress Racing driver said. “We’ll see what comes of it. I’m not worried about anything”

Alan Gustafson, Gordon’s crew chief, said he has heard the speculation but “didn’t have enough information that would warrant a comment” on whether teams were tampering.

“There’s a lot of smoke around that,” Gustafson said. “There’s a lot of talk, a lot of dialogue, there’s a lot of rumors in the garage. So yeah, I think it’s obvious that some people think something’s going on. Is NASCAR reacting to that or do they feel uncomfortable with what’s going on? I don’t know that answer. I do think it is something that’s in the forefront of a lot of people’s minds.

“Obviously NASCAR is trying to make sure we’re all on a level playing field, and if anyone is violating that, they’ll pay the price. Which they’ve reminded us (Friday) morning is very, very stiff. That’s all I know. Anything beyond that is speculation besides the fact that it’s a hot topic obviously.”

The NASCAR rulebook lists modifying or altering tires as a P5 penalty, which could mean a 50-point deduction, $75,000-$125,000 fine and a six-race suspension for team members.

Gustafson said he had heard teams might be applying the same practice as a bleeder valve, which commonly are used at short tracks. In addition to performance enhancements, Gustafson said there is an ancillary safety benefit, too, by decreasing the likelihood of a failure.

“A bleeder would do the exact same thing and probably do a better job than what is proposed that some people are doing,” Gustafson said. “I do think that’s something NASCAR can look at, and it’s something that potentially could help the durability of the tire because you can start higher on pressure and stay within that optimum operating condition of the tire. It’s a valid point. That’s something to look at for sure to see if it would improve our sport for tire durability and the fairness of competition.

“That’s the thing that is tough for NASCAR. If this is going on, as rumored, it’s a very difficult thing to police, a way to police it may just be to allow it through a more conventional tool like a bleeder.”

Chad Knaus, crew chief for Jimmie Johnson, joked he didn’t know much about the rumors because “I don’t have a lot of friends in the garage.

“I know I sent Richard Buck a text and said, ‘Hey man, can we poke holes in our tires, is that OK?’ ” Knaus said with a broad smile. “And he texted back and said, ‘Absolutely not.’ So that’s all I know.”

Gordon said he had “heard  a lot of things with valve caps and poking holes in tires for years. But I’ve never seen it done. I’ve never had proof it was done.

“It’s very interesting to me that NASCAR is investigating it further and looking forward to seeing what comes out of it. If they find a way to stop it and it’s really going on, I get excited about our chances because I know we’re not doing it, so it will close the gap for us to whoever may be doing it.”

Xfinity Series playoff standings entering first round

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The Xfinity Series playoffs begin this weekend with a 12-driver field set to compete for the championship.

The playoffs start Saturday night with a race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric start the postseason tied after they each earned 50 playoff points during the regular season.

More: Las Vegas entry lists

The last four drivers in the standings are Ryan Sieg (2,002 points), Michael Annett (2,002), Riley Herbst (2,001) and Brandon Brown (2,000).

Here are the full playoff standings entering the Round of 12.


Cup playoff standings entering Round of 12

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The Round of 12 in the Cup playoffs has arrived following Saturday night’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Eliminated from contention were Matt DiBenedetto, Ryan Blaney, Cole Custer and William Byron.

The second round begins Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

More: Entry lists for Las Vegas

Kurt Busch begins the round last in the standings with 3,0001 points.

Here is the full playoff standings entering the Round of 12.

Drivers in yellow are those who will compete in the Round of 12. Drivers in red were eliminated at the end of the first round.

Cup playoff standings


NASCAR entry lists for Las Vegas

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The Round of 12 begins this weekend for the Cup Series and NASCAR’s entry lists for Las Vegas Motor Speedway are out.

All three national series will compete at the 1.5-mile track as the Xfinity Series begins its playoffs and the Truck Series holds its second playoff race.

More: Bristol winners and losers

Here are the preliminary entry lists for Las Vegas:

Cup – South Point 400 (7 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN)

Thirty-nine cars are entered for the first race of the Round of 12.

Joey Logano won at Las Vegas in the spring over Matt DiBenedetto and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. This race was won last season by Martin Truex Jr. over Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski.

Click here for the Cup entry list.


Xfinity – Alsco 300 (7:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN)

Thirty-four cars are entered in the Xfinity playoff opener.

Daniel Hemric is entered in JR Motorsports’ No. 8 Chevrolet.

Austin Hill is entered in Hattori Racing Enterprises’ No. 61 Toyota.

Chase Briscoe won at Las Vegas in February over Austin Cindric and Ryan Sieg. This race was won last year by Tyler Reddick over Christopher Bell and Brandon Jones.

Click here for the Xfinity entry list.


Trucks – World of Westgate 200 (9 p.m. ET Friday on FS1)

Thirty-six trucks are entered.

Ryan Truex is entered in Niece Motorsports’ No. 40 Chevrolet.

IndyCar driver Conor Daly will make his Truck Series debut in Niece Motorsports’ No. 42 Chevrolet.

Travis Pastrana is entered in Niece Motorsports’ No. 45 Chevrolet for his second start of the season.

Kyle Busch won at Las Vegas in February over Johnny Sauter and Austin Hill. Austin Hill won this race last year over Ross Chastain and Christian Eckes.

Click here for the Truck entry list

NASCAR 2020 schedule: Times, TV channels, stream info and tracks for Cup series

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The second round of the NASCAR 2020 Cup series playoffs will begin on Sunday, September 27 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

William ByronCole CusterMatt DiBenedetto and Ryan Blaney saw their championship hopes end last Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway where Kevin Harvick stole the show with his ninth win of the season. Harvick’s victory at Bristol marked a career-best milestone as his previous best was eight wins back in 2018.

Click here to see the NASCAR entry lists for Las Vegas 

    RELATED: Bristol Cup results, driver points report

NASCAR 2020 Schedule Playoffs – Round of 12

Sept. 27 – South Point 400

Time: 7 p.m.
Track: Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Oct. 4 – YellaWood 500

Time: 2 p.m.
Track: Talladega Superspeedway

Oct. 11 – Bank of America Roval 400

Time: 2:30 p.m.
Track: Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL

Playoffs – Round of 8

Oct. 18 – Hollywood Casino 400

Time: 2:30 p.m.
Track: Kansas Speedway, 2:30 p.m.

Oct. 25 – Texas 500

Time: 3 p.m.
Track: Texas Motor Speedway

Nov. 1 – Xfinity 500

Time: 2 p.m.
Track: Martinsville Speedway

Championship – Round of 4

Nov. 8 – NASCAR Cup Series Championship

Time: 3 p.m.
Track: Phoenix Raceway


Daytona 500

Date: Feb. 17
Winner: Denny Hamlin

Pennzoil 500 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Date: Feb. 23
Winner: Joey Logano (video)

Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway

Date: March 1
Winner: Alex Bowman

FanShield 500 at Phoenix Raceway

Date: March 8
Winner: Joey Logano (video)

The Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway

Date: May 17
Winner: Kevin Harvick

Toyota 500 at Darlington Raceway

Date: May 20
Winner: Denny Hamlin (video)

Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Date: May 24
Winner: Brad Keselowski

Alsco Uniforms 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Date: May 28
Winner: Chase Elliott  (video)

Supermarket Heroes 500 – at Bristol Motor Speedway

Date: May 31
Winner: Brad Keselowski

Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway

Date: June 7
Winner: Kevin Harvick

Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway

Date: June 10
Winner: Martin Truex Jr. (video)

Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway

Date: June 14
Winner: Denny Hamlin (video)

Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway

Date: June 22
Winner: Ryan Blaney

Pocono Organics 325 at Pocono Raceway

Date: June 27
Winner: Kevin Harvick

Pocono 350 at Pocono Raceway

Date: June 28
Winner: Denny Hamlin

Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 at The Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Date: July 5
Winner: Kevin Harvick

Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway

Date: July 12
Winner: Cole Custer

NASCAR All-Star Race

Date: July 15
Winner: Chase Elliott

O’Reilly Auto Parts 500

Date: July 19
Winner: Austin Dillon

Super Start Batteries 400

Date: July 23
Winner: Denny Hamlin

Foxwoods Resort Casino 301

Date: Aug. 2:
Winner: Brad Keselowski

FireKeepers Casino 400

Date: Aug. 8
Kevin Harvick

Consumers Energy 400

Date: Aug. 9
Kevin Harvick

NASCAR Cup Series Race at Daytona Road Course

Date: Aug. 16
Chase Elliott

NASCAR Cup Series Race at Dover

Race 1

Date: Aug 22
Denny Hamlin

Race 2

Date: Aug. 23
Kevin Harvick

Coke Zero Sugar 400

Date: Aug. 29
William Byron

Playoffs – Round of 16

Date: Sept. 6 
Kevin Harvick

Date: Sept. 12
Brad Keselowski

Date: Sept. 19
Kevin Harvick

For more on the NASCAR 2020 schedule, news and information, read NASCAR Talk