Saturday, April 2, 2011

A tiring problem develops in NASCAR

   It's becoming a tiring problem in NASCAR.

   Two out of the last three Sprint Cup race weekends have now included problems developing with new tires brought to the track by Goodyear. Basically, the new tires are producing unexpected results once the rubber meets the road so to speak - when tires are actually used on the track.

   At Bristol, Tenn., two weeks ago and again this weekend at Martinsville, Va., Goodyear brought new tires to be used by Cup cars to address problems that came up in last season's most recent visits to the respective tracks.

   That is absolutely the right thing to do. Goodyear is always working to address concerns teams have at each track and try to make the racing product better. Nobody around NASCAR - especially Goodyear - wants to see a bad product on the track.

   We don't know yet whether there will be a serious problem in Sunday's Cup race. It's possible the track could "rubber in" quite well in the Truck race and Sunday could go off without a hitch. At Bristol, NASCAR quickly decided to bring in other tires to be used for the race on Sunday.

   Even if Sunday's race at Martinsville works out great, there is still a disturbing problem that needs to be addressed. In both cases, Goodyear brought new tires to the track without any actual on-track testing done to it.

   I'm sure very good computer simulation programs were run and all the top people all agreed the right decision was being made. And there is absolutely no guarantee on-track testing of the tires would have predicted what happened at Bristol or Martinsville.

   Asked Sunday if track testing of the tire was the only solution, driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. said, "I don’t know what else you can do. How else do you put a tire on the track and make sure it works?"

   What I do know is this: The only way you can absolutely say you've done everything you could to make sure what you bring to the track is the right call is to have somebody run the tire on the track itself.

   It may not yield any different result. What it does do, however, is remove any doubt there was anything else that could be done to prevent problems in the first place.

   Isn't that the safer call?