Flat Tires, Stuck Wheels, Cause Trouble for Several Drivers at Kansas

KANSAS CITY, KANSAS - MAY 15: A detail view of the tire and lug nut removed from the #43 FOCUSfactor Chevrolet, driven by Erik Jones during a pit stop in the NASCAR Cup Series AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway on May 15, 2022 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

While Kurt Busch celebrated his win, a few drivers in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race at Kansas Speedway lamented what could have been as tire issues plagued the field during the 267 laps.

The problems had surfaced during Saturday’s practice when a total of five cars lost tires. They included Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Joey Logano both of whom had to go to backup cars for Sunday’s race.

Sunday polesitter Christopher Bell lost the lead under caution on lap 64 with a flat left rear. The caution was for Daniel Suarez who spun with a flat left rear while running fourth.

William Byron also lost a tire while leading on lap 113. Shortly after Byron, Tyler Reddick hit the outside wall with a left rear down.

Erik Jones problem wasn’t a tire, it was a wheel. Jones was running inside the top 10 and finished eighth in Stage 1. During the pit stops, the crew wasn’t able to get the right rear wheel off the car. They sent him back out, but when he pitted on lap 130, the crew struggled with the wheel, trying several different ways before finally sawing it off.

KANSAS CITY, KANSAS – MAY 15: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 UniFirst Chevrolet, spins into the infield grass after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Cup Series AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway on May 15, 2022 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

“We knew on that last pit stop something was wrong,” tire carrier James Houk told Fox TV. “We knew it was going to be awhile to get off. We contemplated going back (to the garage) and cutting the wheel completely which is actually what we ended up doing on pit road with the ‘saws all’ and then it finally came off.

“Never seen it.”

Chase Elliott meanwhile had the opposite issue. His left rear tire flattened and the carcass fell off while he was running sixth on lap 196. Elliott’s car slid to a stop in the grass and he was stuck in the mud losing three laps as workers frantically tried to remove the car, a tow truck getting stuck as well in the process.

Jones lost seven laps and ended the race in 32nd, six laps down.

“We started out pretty good, but a little on the free side,” Jones said. “The guys made good changes and made a pit call to get us in the top 10 and stage points at the end of stage one. Unfortunately, we had the issue with our tire and getting the right rear off. That kind of ended our day after going multiple laps down. We’ll refocus and head to Texas for the All-Star race.”

Elliott finished 29th.

As for the rash of flat tires, Goodyear said Saturday the problem stemmed from crews using air pressures below what Goodyear recommended on the tires in order to gain speed.

Photos: NASCAR at Kansas Speedway Sunday, May 15, 2022

Greg Engle