Tire Troubles May Once Again Surface At Texas…


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Say what you will but, the 2014 NASCAR season has had a very interesting start. There’s been rain, six different winners over six races, some technical glitches that possibly affected the outcome of a couple of races and tire issues especially over the last couple of weeks. There’s nothing new about rain, it’s always unpredictable. Having six different winners over six races just shows how competitive the teams have become. Now tire issues… well… That’s a whole different ballgame.

Yeah, it’s been an interesting start and many attribute the competition and the tire issues to the rule changes that were made for this car this season. From this fan’s view, they’re probably right. The speeds are higher at every track so far this year and that means the stress on the particular component that hooks up all of the horsepower to the track is greatly increased. As we all know, Goodyear does a very good job of trying to keep up with all of the stresses put on their tires but this year is proving to be a challenge for them.

It’s true that the team engineers and crew chiefs try to take advantage of any edge they can find to become more competitive and because they press that envelope, they may not always take the conservative route Goodyear suggests. In addressing the tire issues so far this year, both NASCAR and Goodyear have “suggested” that it is the competitiveness of the teams and their willingness to press the envelope as the largest contributing factor for the tire issues. As a fan (and former racer) I can’t really disagree with them. When it comes right down to it, no one really knows where the line can be drawn until they cross it and failures occur. Whether it be tire pressures and different setups in the geometry or looking for that little bit extra horsepower in the tuning of an engine, lines have to be crossed to find out if they can be moved.

I don’t think anyone really faults them for looking for that little bit of extra performance because that’s what racing is all about… Competition. If there’s one thing that’s proven this year it’s that there is a limit to what the present tire designs can take and when that limit is exceeded, failures can and do happen.

Texas Motor Speedway is a big track and it’s also a fast-track. No matter what happened in the practice and qualifying sessions, whether or not the lines have or will be crossed won’t be known until they hit the track Sunday afternoon. I’m not saying that there will be problems with the tires but it is a very good possibility.

If anything can be taken from the practice sessions, at least in this fan’s opinion, it would be that the Chevys and the Fords look awfully tough for this weekend. I’m sure that along with the SHR teams, the Hendrick teams will also make a good showing. I guess it remains to be seen if Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle will make a race of it along with Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano from the Ford camps. Even the Petty teams are beginning to show some muscle although I don’t think they’ve quite arrived yet.

Jeff Gordon didn’t qualify all that well but I do expect him to be running at or near the front when today’s race is over. The same goes for Jimmy Johnson; either of them could walk away with a victory today and both of them are little bit overdue, at least in this fan’s opinion. Both of them have been consistently showing up with fast cars every weekend. From this fan’s view is just a matter of time before both of them make their appearance in Victory Lane in I do think it could be sooner than later.

It’s just an observation but I do think that the Toyotas are struggling at least a little bit so far this year. Sure, I know that Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch along with Clint Bowyer have also been very competitive so far this season but so far it does appear that they’re still searching for consistency.

In looking at the race today at Texas, three things will be important when it comes to being in the hunt for the win. As always this could become a fuel mileage race so fuel strategy will probably be important when it comes down to the final laps. Track position is going to be very important and there won’t be any room for mistakes in the pits. When it comes down to tire management… well… that’s going to depend on whether or not the ugly tire failure monster raises his head…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 5, 2014 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, Nascarfansview.com and Justafansview.com
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