Goodyear struggles to understand what went wrong at Bristol

BRISTOL, TN - MARCH 17: Goodyear 18" racing eagle tires after tread failing during the running of the NASCAR Cup Series Food City 500 on March 17, 2024 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, TN. (Photo by Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Goodyear was surprised, it seems. For the first time in many years, tires were wearing out at a surprising pace at Bristol Sunday. The wear caused several drivers to lose tires and forced teams to make adjustments.

In the past few years, including the release of the Next Gen car, tire wear has not been an issue at many tracks, and certainly not to the extent seen Sunday.

At Bristol the average age for a set of tires was 30-40 laps forcing more tire changes and midway through the 500 laps NASCAR released an extra set of tires to the teams. And while the teams did make adjustments, and the racing on the track had fans on the edge of their seats with a record number of lead changes, it wasn’t the outcome Goodyear had planned on.

Goodyear brought the same tire used in the fall race to Bristol with the same package. In the fall race, Goodyear saw what they expected and felt they would have the same results. However, the wear Sunday was much different, and the track was not taking rubber as it did in the fall.

That left Goodyear wondering why.  NASCAR did use a resin in the turns instead of the PJ1 compound they used last fall, but that was the only change.

“I still think the racetrack should be taking rubber as it did last fall,” Goodyear’s racing director told assembled media. “Still a bit of an unknown as far as why it’s not behaving the same way, that being the racetrack.”

In the end, the tire wear delivered great racing and teams made the adjustments needed to make it through the race. Goodyear, meanwhile, who normally gets it right, was left wondering what happened.

”Tire wear is always the goal,” Stucker said. “That’s what people wanted to see. It creates comers and goers and who manages tires the best. But like I said, we thought we were in a really good spot last year with the tire as we raced it in the fall, and something is different now. So, this is too drastic.”

Greg Engle