NASCAR Xfinity driver Brendan Gaughan ripped the use of the tire dragon on the bottom lane at Kentucky Speedway, calling it “stupid” and saying “they need to drag the lanes we don’t race.’’
Gaughan’s comments Thursday came a day after NASCAR on NBC analyst Parker Kligerman, who is competing in the Camping World Truck Series this weekend, questioned why the tire dragging device was used on the bottom lane. Ty Dillon also had the same question.
Some tracks drag tires to increase grip in an effort to provide better racing.
MORE: Kentucky Speedway says it knows what it’s doing with tire dragging
Gaughan, seated between Cole Custer and William Byron in the press conference, expressed his displeasure with how the tire dragon was used before teams arrived at Kentucky.
“Let me teach the boys here to keep their mouth shut and let the old guy say what he wants,’’ Gaughan said. “It’s stupid. They need to drag the lanes we don’t race. The lanes that we want there, the lanes we that we don’t practice in.
“Now, Kentucky has a lot of rain, so they’re going to wash a lot of it anyway. You could have gone and done the upper two lanes, started at the wall and worked your way down. You could have done that. Every racetrack could do that when they want that to happen. Michigan could do it. Lots of places could.
“For some reason, somebody in their infinite wisdom doesn’t think that’s a good idea. I don’t know why. Love to hear an answer for it. Nobody has ever given me one.’’
Byron, who has won the past two Xfinity races, admitted using the tire dragon on the bottom lane “doesn’t make a lot of sense, but we’re always going to be on the bottom at these repaves. We’re going so fast, we’re barely out of the throttle, so I guess it would prevent more wrecks if we had more grooves.’’
While NASCAR and the tracks work together, it ultimately is the track’s decision on where to use the tire dragon on its racing surface.
Kentucky is doing what it did last year and that provided what track officials thought was a good Cup race.
Gaughan noted that a Cup race at Kentucky is 67 laps (100.5 miles) longer than the Xfinity race. and that can make a difference in widening the groove.
“There are 25 more teams that run harder than in this (Xfinity) series,’’ Gaughan said. “You have more people battling, more race cars, more laps to do it. It works great.
“I think we’ve all seen in the media and the drivers, the tire dragon works great. … Then why not put it in the places that you want the track to grow to, not where you know that everybody wants to go?’’
Erik Jones wasn’t as critical of what was done to the Kentucky track.
“They can only do so much man,’’ Jones said Thursday. “If we tire drag the whole track, everybody is naturally going to go back to the bottom because it’s a repave and it’s going to be – it’s just going to be faster down there. It’s just how it’s going to work.
“I think even if they drag the top in, I don’t think it’s going to be faster up by the wall than it would be right on the white line. It’s just a repave and it’s going to be like this for 10 years. We’re going to be on the bottom and then we’ll start to work up to the middle. Kentucky really, even on the old surface, was just starting to get up to the wall, so it just takes time.”
This is the second time in the last month drivers have raised questions about where a track used the tire dragon. There were questions at Michigan International Speedway, which dragged tires for eight days before teams arrived, on the bottom lane. Drivers talked about how much better the bottom lane was than the top lane.
Asked after the Cup race at Michigan if the tire dragging helped, Joey Logano said: “They did it in the wrong spot, in my opinion.’’