This weekend at the Auto Club Speedway saw many tire issues not of Goodyear’s doing. Many teams experienced tire issues, while some did not, through the entire weekend.
During the first practice Saturday morning, Martin Truex Jr. had a tire issue that sent him up into the wall. Truex Jr. was then forced to go to a backup car because it damaged the car too severe. The move to a backup car sent Truex to the rear for the start of the race on Sunday. In the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice, tire issues bit Team Penske driver, Joey Logano. This too caused the team to switch to a backup. Brad Keselowski was the third driver to have problems as he flattened three tires during the final practice session. Despite having major issues, he was able to catch the problem early before spinning out.
During the race on Sunday, we saw even more issues. On lap 43, caution was brought out by Dale Earnhardt Jr. who had a left front tire flat. Before the problem occurred, he reported a vibration in the car. Earnhardt Jr. was not the only Hendrick Motorsports driver with issues, as it struck Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon later on in the event. The next issue happened to Greg Biffle on lap 115 for also his left rear tire. Later on, four laps later, Ambrose adds his name to the mix with issues. With six laps remaining, that’s where this whole thing gets crazy as race leader Jimmie Johnson, who had a huge lead on teammate Jeff Gordon, who was also having a vibration, all of a sudden blows his right front tire. With three laps remaining, Brad Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose has a tire issue that costs their day. Two laps later, Clint Bowyer blows a tire to bring out the caution. This whole thing allowed an exciting end to the Auto Club 400 as Kyle Busch won the race.
In the media center following the race, where top-3 finishers and highest finishing rookie if top-10 run are required to go, all of the drivers said it was not a Goodyear issue. Sunoco Rookie of Year contender, Kyle Larson, explained that his team had the issue in practice on Saturday. This made the team decide to go with a less aggressive setup for the race, which took him to a second place finish Sunday afternoon.
Kurt Busch, who had an issue with two minutes left in practice yesterday, forced the team to take a conservative approach. Like Larson said, Busch feels it was an air pressure and camber issue and that Goodyear has done a great job. Kurt also explained that this is what happens when NASCAR lets the teams be more aggressive with setups on the cars.
Race winner, Kyle Busch, along with his older brother Kurt and Larson, had no issues with his tire except for one but didn't feel it was bad enough. He also added that other teams running very low air pressures was a contributor to the factor. None of the Joe Gibbs Racing teams reported to have any tire issues this afternoon.
It was reported that several teams was running as low as 12 PSI in their tires. Race winning crew chief, Dave Rodgers, said 12 PSI is very dangerous for a fast track like Auto Club and that he would never, ever, run that low of PSI on a race car, even if it’s fast.
Goodyear recommends teams to running no less than 22 PSI in the left front and a minimum of 20 PSI in the left rear.