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Indy Chairman Tells NASCAR It’s Their Problem

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Indianapolis Motor Speedway track chairman Tony George said Tuesday in an interview in The Indianapolis Star that the track surface is not to blame for last Sunday’s race fiasco.

They’ve run on it. The problem is solely theirs [NASCAR’s], and by that I mean it theirs to figure out. It’s not going to come with anything we do to the track. Figuring it out will only come with getting the car and tire combination right, and that requires actually spending the time and effort to do something about it. The track won’t change next year, so if they want to come back, they better figure it out because I don’t think the fans want to come back and see that.

NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton agrees that the track is not to blame. NASCAR did not have open tests at Indy this year because it said the crew chiefs did not select it when polled last season on where they wanted to test. Chad Knaus, crew chief of the Lowes team, stated that Indy is a “very individual-type racetrack” and they prefer to test at tracks where you can use the information to apply at other tracks.

NASCAR is working on revising their testing policy for the next season and while Pemberton did not guarantee a full-field test at Indy, he made it sound very likely given the pressure the organization has been getting lately.

Meanwhile, Goodyear posted a statement on their racing website.

In April, Goodyear staged a tire test at the track with three drivers (Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Brian Vickers and Kurt Busch) that resulted in the tire brought to Sunday’s race. The focus of the tire test was to improve treadwear. A number of right-side compounds were evaluated to address the treadwear, but none of the drivers were comfortable with the reduced level of grip of those compounds. The decision was made to use the same right-side compound as was used in 2007 because its performance under race conditions was a known quantity. The compound was paired with a revised construction and a softer left-side compound.

However, actual tire performance in a 43-driver field in real-world race conditions on a new car is always going to be different than in a test. Sunday’s race was held in essentially new conditions. Although this surface has always been very abrasive, it has always “rubbered in” on race day. In other words, as the race progresses, rubber from natural tire wear effectively sticks to the track, making the surface less abrasive and improving tire wear. That didn’t happen on Sunday.

Certainly, Sunday’s race results are not what Goodyear wanted nor what it expected and we are committed to working with NASCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway to correct it. As an industry, we will solve this problem and we’ve already started that process.

And round and round it goes. Don’t look for that refund anytime soon if you were there. Nobody’s picking up the tab on this one.

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