Race Weekend Central

Voices From The Cheap Seats: The Tale Of Two Tires

Now that you have watched the first and last 20 laps of NASCAR’s Cup race at Texas — skipping the insidious 300 laps in between so as to get along with your normal Monday night television viewing schedule — I want to tell you the tale of two tires. OK, to be honest (honesty being one of my best traits when I want it to be) I’m actually talking about just one. However, at the time you read this article there are now two different tales about this particular piece of rubber in as many weeks.

Who’s responsible for Fontana’s flat tires? Turns out the answer is dependent on when – and whom – you ask.
Who’s responsible for Fontana’s flat tires? Turns out the answer is dependent on when – and whom – you ask.

Yes, the tire that Goodyear brought to Fontana two weeks ago has once again reared its ugly tread. And yes, I know that Cup racing tires have no “tread” so don’t even go there!

Two weeks ago, it was reported by Fox Sports that “Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway produced a massive number of tire failures, as Goodyear Eagles exploded with shocking regularity from the opening 20 laps until the end of the race.” Afterward, though most of the drivers weren’t pointing the finger at Goodyear as the source of the problem. Instead, they pointed to changes with the cars and how they are set up for 2014.

The story went on to directly ask Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s Vice President of Competition and Racing Development about the situation. He agreed that the car was different and if teams didn’t follow Goodyear’s recommendations pertaining to minimum air pressures, well, that’s what you get. There was no mention whatsoever by Pemberton that the teams were blaming Goodyear.

This week, when some drivers voiced concerns about a Fontana repeat, Pemberton, as reported by the Associated Press, told a different story.

“…There were multiple tire issues at California two weeks ago, and many drivers tried to blame the product Goodyear brought to the track,” he said. “NASCAR insisted the issues were self-inflicted and a product of teams going far beyond the air pressure limits recommended by the manufacturer.”

With a handful of drivers predicting similar problems this weekend at Texas, Pemberton went on to say each team controls its own fate.

“We want to be open enough to give the teams an opportunity to adjust, have different setups out there and be more aggressive or less aggressive whenever they see fit,” Pemberton said Thursday. “We want the teams to be able to push the limit, and that’s what we expect out of them. If a guy has a tire issue that is self-inflicted, gets out of the car and blames Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., that’s a bad deal. That basically is what some of them tried to do at California.”

Now I know, in the big scheme of things — Life, The Universe and Everything — details such as this one are way, way down there on the scale of things to worry about. But it is exactly this type of double talk that really burns my butt… that and fire about three-foot high, of course!

Is there not anyone, not one highly overpaid person specifically hired to remember what the story was two weeks ago, out there to tap someone on the shoulder and say, “…uh, Robin, two weeks ago, we uh, well you actually, you basically agreed that the teams were not blaming Goodyear… just sayin’?”

As I stated two weeks ago, concerning the actual tires in question, I actually agree with Pemberton on the point that if the teams are not going to follow Goodyear’s recommendations, that is their own problem. But I also cast some blame on Goodyear for bringing the same tire to the track as the two previous years, all the while knowing that the cars and the downforces generated by them have drastically changed.

In truth, the horse I’m whipping here has nothing to do with the tires, the air pressures, or the teams themselves. The horse I am whipping has to do with respect and integrity. It’s pointing out the disrespect shown by NASCAR and many members of the press to the true fans, the only ones that are reading these inane press releases anyway, for thinking they are so stupid as to believe whatever is put out there. This week, they say it’s a different tune, as if fans have no memory. Well, integrity is thrown out the window the second you change the damn story in the first place! What is someone who has a memory/attention span longer than… hey, look! A squirrel!… two weeks later supposed to believe? And they wonder why NASCAR is constantly compared to Professional Wrestling!

One of my favorite lyrics of all time, from Pink Floyd’s “Animals” album, goes in part, “…You have to be trusted, by the people that you lie to…” NASCAR, and the majority of the press that covers it, is surprisingly bad at lying and certainly, neither one can be trusted!

(Except my opinion, of course!)

Stay off the wall,

Jeff Meyer

About the author

Jeff is one of the longest-tenured staffers at Frontstretch, starting his second decade as the resident humorist and pain-in-the-butt that keeps NASCAR (and his fellow co-workers) honest. Writing Voices From The Cheap Seats, every Tuesday, his BSNews! Segments along with alter ego “Stu Padasso” have developed a large following. Jeff makes his home in Tennessee and is a Bristol groupie, camping out for the August night race every year since he can remember.

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