NASCAR address tire issues, admits missing Byron-Hamlin tangle under caution

When a race has issues like Sunday at Teas Motor Speedway, NASCAR is often ‘called onto the carpet’ to face the media in the aftermath.

Sunday at Texas, one of the issues were blown tires. Several drivers suffered blown tires, at least three while leading.

Christopher Bell was the first of many to lose a tire on lap 71 while he was running seventh. He was able to keep the car off the wall but wasn’t so lucky when it happened again on lap 141 with his car suffering too much damage to continue.

Later it was the top seed coming into the Round of 12, Chase Elliott. Elliott was leading when on lap 184 when his Chevy lost a tire coming into turn 4 and he hit the wall hard. The car caught fire as Elliott tried to guide it to a stop on the front stretch. It came to rest of the ball field still burning, and Elliot was forced to exit the car, and was out of the race.

Playoff driver Alex Bowman also lost a tire but finished the race 5 laps down in 29th.

The most frightening incident of the day came when Cody Ware lost a tire on his Ford on lap 168. The car snapped to the right and was sent nose first into the outside wall in turn 4. The destroyed machine still carried momentum and charged down the track, across pit road and ended in the outside wall just missing the opening to the entrance to the garage area. Ware to taken to the infield care center and cleared, but his team said while there were no visible injuries, he will get further evaluated later in the week as a precaution.

Among the non-Playoff drivers to lose tires, were Kevin Harvick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chris Buescher, and Martin Truex Jr. Truex and Harvick were both leading when blown tires cost them a chance at a win.

“I don’t even know what to say,” an obviously Truex said. “Between crappy parts, tires exploding & all the bullshit we’re dealing with, it’s a joke.”

As is most often the case, it was NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition Scott Miller who faced the media after the race.

“With the tires,” Miller said. “I mean, obviously we saw a lot of tire problems and we saw a lot of teams that didn’t have tire problems.

“We’re working through that, Goodyear’s working through that with the teams; working through what the setups were, what the air pressures were to try to try to get to the bottom of it.

“But, you know, there was a lot of teams that reported no problems to us post-race, and, you know, and they did admit to being a little bit on the conservative side air pressure and being closer to the suggested minimums that Goodyear recommended.”

Miller said that as with many things on the new Next Gen car, it’s still a learning process.

“We’re all learning about the setups, the tires” he said.  “Goodyear’s learning about the construction, the new wheel… it’s part of a learning, it’s an unfortunate part of a learning process. But as I said earlier, the ones that didn’t have any problems admitted to being on the conservative side with all the things that are difficult on tires, they make speed, but are difficult on tires.”

Miller also admitted they didn’t see what had happened between William Byron and Denny Hamlin late in the race.

In the closing laps Playoff hopefuls Byron and Hamlin tangled while racing for position with Hamlin putting Byron into the wall. Under an ensuing caution shortly after, Byron spun Hamlin out on the frontstretch.

“It was really, really hard contact,” Byron said. “It wasn’t like just a light contact or anything like that. Yeah, I didn’t mean to obviously spin him out over there. Obviously, I’m pissed off, just not going to get run like that.”

Hamlin seemed to indicate he might be holding a grudge.

“I mean, you know, I keep hearing these guys,” he said. “I’ll just add it to the list of guys when I get a chance. They’re going to get it.”

“When we were in the tower, we were paying more attention to the actual cause of the caution up there and dispatching our equipment,” Miller said. “The William Byron Denny Hamlin thing we had no eyes on.

“We saw Denny go through the grass and by the time we got to a replay that showed the incident well enough to do anything to it, we’d gone back to green, but I’m not sure that that issue is completely resolved as of yet. So, we’ll be looking at we’ll be looking at that when we get back to work.”

“You know, if we had seen that good enough to react to it real time, which, which we should have, like no excuse there,” Miller added. “There would probably have been two courses of action. One would’ve been to put Hamlin back where he was, or the other would be to have made Williams start in the back.”


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Greg Engle