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Tires take toll on Stewart, racing at Lowe's
Tom, Cheviot, Ohio: Why did NASCAR use both a hard tire and a smaller fuel tank in the cars instead of one of them? Will teams change two tires on alternate sides instead of changing all four tires on every stop since it will only take half the time to fill the gas tank?
Barry Dodson: Obviously. There is no tire wear. When I was over there last week with the Craftsman Truck Series, some of the fastest laps turned were 100, 150 miles into a run. Basically tires are no issue so that is a great question. It doesn't make any sense. By using the 14-gallon cell in a 600-mile race, it appears that the only advantage I could see is that you might have a surprise winner.
Q: Did NASCAR, Goodyear and the track find the right racing/safety balance?
Barry Dodson: Definitely these cars do not have the right balance with this tire configuration. I think we've had in the neighborhood of 30-some crashes over there between practice and testing.
Yellow flag, Lap 35Flat tire on the No. 20 car. There's quite a difference, the sidewall on this particular tire has a lot of bow in it. It's very concave. I think that's what happened to Jamie McMurray on Saturday night. Teams have to really police the clearance between the tire sidewall and the suspension.
When I saw how much bow it had, we moved our swaybar inward. Something very easily could have been rubbing. You lose a lot of clearance from the suspension parts that you don't normally have to deal with. You should not cut a tire, not from this compound. And Tony Stewart's probably aching pretty good after last night.
Q: Stewart looks to be extremely banged-up. Can you talk some about what it feels like for these guys when they crash like that?
Barry Dodson: Football players try to hide it and so do these guys because they're athletes. Rib/shoulder blade injuries are really painful. And I know what his crew chief Greg Zipadelli is thinking now. They're going to a track next week with so manyG-forces at Dover. Can my driver make it?
Green flag, Lap 71Having no deflection in the sidewall can be illustrated in the difference betweeen a tire on a passenger car versus the tire that the Flintstones used. There's no lateral grip. Once they go, they're gone. The sidewall is normally an advantage when a car slides. But the tougher compound unfortunately comes with a tougher sidewall so you just don't have the grip. You're fine until you get out of shape. Then when you get out of shape, you're gone. It seems like it's a disadvantage for the more aggressive drivers.
Green flag, Lap 96
The situation will not get better tonight because what you always want are cooler temperatures for more grip. But when you have the harder tire, it's actually going to be an opposite reaction.
When you run an inner liner, you always have the possibility of a tire equalizing, meaning that the inner liner has a leak and that pressure goes into the outer tire. It vibrates so bad that you have to come in. The liner always carries 15 to 20 pounds more pressure. If it starts to leak into the outer tire, you can't drive the car.
Dodson: I am very surprised at the number of tire changes so far, especially when it's uncalled for. Unless these guys just want to spend a lot more money and have pit practice.
Green flag, Lap 116Six cautions in 114 laps. So you're looking at 20 cautions, all because of tires. All but one caution has been a single-car incident caused by tires. The mindset of these teams is let the tires down like we always do, and it makes it worse. It makes the tire react worse. It was easily seen in the Truck Series, the longer we ran, the faster we got.
Yellow flag, Lap 144Here we go. Right rear flat (for Carl Edwards). The whole point behind so many of the changes was to try to cut down on the cautions from last year. How frustrated must everyone be that we're still seeing an awful lot of yellow flag racing?
The sad part is Goodyear always seems to be the victim. They do an excellent job with the racetrack. Lowe's Motor Speedway opted to levigate to make it smoother. That's like an interstate or a runway that an airplane runs on, the track had grooves in it. Probably 25 percent of the contact patch of every tire was lost because there was no asphalt. It was a smoother track, but you couldn't utilize the tires you had.
So they opted for a repave. Nnow the track is perfect, but it holds so much grip which equates to tire heat that we had to run a Talladega/Daytona type tire that has no grip. So we have a totally different racetrack, and it's acting like the one before they got it repaved.
The victim is Goodyear. They always get the blame, and they never get the credit. But without them, the sport would not be where it is right now.
Yellow flag, Lap 236Flat right rear (for Travis Kvapil). That's probably from running over something.
See, nobody passed anybody during that green flag run except Jimmie Johnson. You know why? The tires. When the tire is that hard, it doesn't matter. If you're 5th, you're going to stay 5th. We saw no passing there. We saw a terrible race.
That's the third time I've heard the teams talk about brakes. Drivers never talk about brakes at Charlotte. That's the second time I've heard about it since Stewart went to the hospital after cooking the bead on the tire, which means he was using too much brake. The tires are so hard that the drivers are using a tremendous amount of brake throughout the corner.
I swear, I've not heard them talk about brakes at Charlotte in 20 years. I've heard about 'em three times tonight.
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PostraceQ: What do you think of the future for the small fuel cell and the hard tires given how today went? Do you anticipate a change?
Barry Dodson: There is no way they will stay with that tire. It was pretty much an insurance policy that nobody would have trouble. If you think about last fall when they levigated the racetrack and people were wrecking because they had no grip, it was pretty much a train wreck.
Goodyear never gets the credit they deserve. They have to build tires prior to an event maybe two or three months out and they don't know what's happened to the racetrack. You have to credit them for coming to Lowe's with a tire that was safe. In fact, it was safer, and that was good.
They'll come back with a softer tire next year. It won't be any more competitive because they gave us a competitive tire this year. But Goodyear does a good job adapting to racetracks.