Race Weekend Central

Fire on Fridays: Could NASCAR Fans Boycott Goodyear?

Where has all the tire wear gone in the NASCAR Cup Series?

With the exception of a happy accident this March at Bristol Motor Speedway, tire wear on short tracks has essentially been nonexistent in NASCAR thus far in 2024. As a result, the amount of side-by-side competition has greatly suffered.

As the Next Gen car has narrowed the gap between teams, Goodyear’s inability to produce said wear has been exposed. Last weekend at Martinsville Speedway, for example, the top 36 cars in qualifying were all within a few tenths of a second. Well, 50-plus laps into a run, they were still within a few tenths of each other.

That sounds great on paper, but the outcome of competition that close? It creates boring racing. Since everyone runs the same speed an entire run, it makes passing almost impossible.

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Obviously, Goodyear isn’t the only one to blame in how bad the Next Gen racing has gotten at short tracks and even road courses. But creating tires that wear out over a long green-flag run would be the easiest way to fix the problem.

In the 70-plus years of NASCAR racing prior to the Next Gen car, managing tires was what made or broke your afternoon. You could see someone rocket to the front, abusing their setup the whole time, only for a wily veteran who saved their tires to blow by them later in the run. A huge component of the racing was seeing who could go the fastest while also not using their tires up.

Those days are gone now, as every driver can go as hard as they want to with no fear of using up the tires at most tracks. Denny Hamlin said on his podcast Actions Detrimental this week that because of this development, NASCAR has not only created a flock of cars that are identical but also a generation of drivers who are identical.

It’s almost like the tires have become too good. Since there’s no risk of your equipment coming apart, pretty much everyone can manage the chassis setup they have. And when everyone is running the same speed, how in the world are you going to be able to pass?

The excitement on Sundays has turned lifeless as a result at several tracks iconic to NASCAR history: Martinsville, Richmond Raceway, even Watkins Glen International. And, like clockwork, after seemingly every one of these races we are treated to a multitude of podcasts, articles, etc., complaining about the lack of tire wear. Everyone from drivers to crew chiefs is practically begging Goodyear to get more aggressive.

Of course, there was one important exception to the rule from those in the industry: Bristol. For every person complaining about tire management, there were five standing up and cheering its return.

“Hats off to Goodyear,” said Hamlin’s crew chief Chris Gabehart after that race. “I mean, I don’t want them to get any heat for this. I think Goodyear makes million-mile tires on the road. I don’t think they should make million-mile tires on the racetrack.

“I want them to have to make these drivers make decisions, crew chiefs make decisions. If they blow out, that’s on the crew chief, on the team. I think that should be part of our sport to a certain degree. Force the world’s best to make decisions.”

Too often, that strategy is no longer an option. Gone are the days of drivers thanking the three Gs in victory lane: God, Goodyear and Gatorade. Instead, it’s a chorus of complaints about the tires and the inability to pass in post-race interviews.

Goodyear has yet to make changes to address the problem. The tires have never been as durable as they are now as — according to Hamlin — Goodyear is still using similar tires to the end of the Gen-6 era, when the weight and durability of the car was completely different.

“This Gen-7 Next Gen car does not have nearly the load that the other car had,” Hamlin said. “So that hard, rock, rubber compound that you took from Gen-6 to Gen-7, it doesn’t work because these cars are not pushing [down on the tires enough].

NASCAR has also taken downforce out of cars on the short track/road course package this year. Downforce also pushes down on their chassis, causing more tire wear.

So basically, Goodyear is still making tires for the Gen-6 when it needs to get up to speed with the Gen-7. But we’re now in year three of this current era and that problem has still not been addressed.

Joey Logano was the perfect example last weekend when he ran the first 180 laps of the Martinsville race on the same left-side tires. If the tires actually wore properly, then he would’ve plummeted down the running order. Instead, he was extremely hard to pass and managed to get stage points.

We know that Goodyear is capable of making softer tires. The wet-weather tires used at North Wilkesboro Speedway last year and Richmond this year showed plenty of wear and created excellent racing. I get those tires probably would wear out too fast if they became the dry tires, too, but there has to be a middle ground between that and the dry tires Goodyear is currently bringing.

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There’s a belief Goodyear doesn’t want to bring softer tires because it is scared that fans will see teams have tire problems and not want to put Goodyears on their street cars. I don’t think fans would really do that, but even if they did, the tires Goodyear has been bringing aren’t even close to having that be a problem.

In talking to fans over the course of the last few months, I’ve heard the opposite: seeing Goodyear not be able to make competitive racing tires makes them less likely to buy them for their personal car despite the durability.

Maybe I’m not the only reporter seeing that. Could fan reaction, if done right, be drastic enough to catch Goodyear’s attention? This sport is sponsorship driven, after all. What would happen if the fans were to publicly complain about the racing and how the inability for Goodyear to give competitive racing tires makes them less likely to buy their product.

Could people even start a boycott on buying Goodyears for their street cars until the tire company responds to complaints? It would be an act of desperation after years of inaction and indecision on the issue. But if NASCAR and Goodyear aren’t going to work together to find a solution, how are the fans going to get any movement?

Goodyear is a business first. It needs consumers buying its tires. If a large contingent of people were to get together and complain, the idea softer tires are needed might finally break through to Goodyear’s so-far-stubborn ways. NASCAR has its Fan Council, but it’s a prime opportunity for the fans to turn around and counsel them.

So it might be up to you, race fans. After two-plus years with the same tire trends, it certainly doesn’t seem like anyone else involved in this problem is trying to solve it.

Follow Michael Massie on Twitter at @m_massie22

About the author

Michael Massie is a writer for Frontstretch. Massie, a Richmond, Va. native, has been a NASCAR superfan since childhood, when he frequented races at Richmond International Raceway. Massie is a lover of short track racing and travels around to the ones in his region. Outside of motorsports, the Virginia Tech grad can be seen cheering on his beloved Hokies.

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janice

i’ve never been a fan of goodyear for my tires. but i seriously doubt that goodyear cares whether or not nascar fans are putting their tires on their daily drivers. brand loyalty with nascar sponsors is a thing of the past. used to be a huge driver. but there are so many sponsors that are the “official toiler paper of nascar” that fans decided to spend their hard earned dollars on whatever was on sale at the store that particular week instead of spending on their favorite driver’s sponsors.

Shayne

I don’t know who a lot of the current sponsors are. Seems like whoever and whatever they do, it’s not something they’re marketing to the fans.

Shayne

I quit buying Goodyear tires 24 years ago. Terrible tires. I’d buy the Chinese made Good Rides before wasting another dime on Goodyear tires.

Experimental cars and tires should be thoroughly tested before they’re used in competition. Neither have been since 2007.

DoninAjax

You must have had the Firestone 721 equivalent from the 70s.

Mike

We also seem to forget that years ago when tires were bias ply tires they wore out faster. But once the tires became radial tires nascar has had a problem with them lasting alot longer which depending on set up your tires dont wear. Back then nascar called the move to radial tires progress.

janice

i remember when i was forced to buy radial tires in 1977. they were marketed as all weather tires to save people from having to purchase snow tires. that was an interesting first few winters on those things.

wildcatsfan2016

In word no. I don’t have Goodyear tires on my vehicle but that’s because I prefer other tire brands not because I’m boycotting it.

CCColorado

Any boycott would be a small blip on the radar as far as sales are concerned, I think. I love all things racing , but realistically, our numbers would be small compared to , say NFL audiences.
Respect the drivers view, for sure, but blaming Goodyear seems kind low hanging fruit. Albeit the manufacturer certainly needs to address the ongoing issues.
Don’t need another Brickyard 400 Fiasco!
New Gen car seems to be having many unintended consequences. Sure… the “ little guy” has a chance against the Top Dogs, but at what price?
And heaven forbid they actually try to be inventive and seek those grey areas in the rule book.. oh those dastardly cheating crews!

Christopher

This is the ongoing consequence of that disastrous 2008 Brickyard 400 where Goodyear tires barely lasted 15 laps. It’s been downhill ever since. That disaster was also tied to the debut of a new generation of car, the infamous Car of Tomorrow.

Drew

I don’t think that would happen anytime soon because I will be in attendance for the brickyard 400 and support Jimmie Johnson in the 84 car with legacy motor club.

Concerned Citizen

So it’s the tire’s fault for short track racing even though the intermediates are fine? Goodyear press releases continue to show they are making changes, yet there are two areas that continue to suffer with little to no movement: aero and horsepower. But again, it’s all on the tire’s.

I’m having a hard time understanding this. More downforce without horsepower doesn’t do much. Any racer knows that horsepower slips the tires more and creates tire wear. But again, it’s just the tires fault, right?

This article is so unfactual. A complete opinion article doing nothing but hurting the sport. Yeah, NASCAR, the teams and Goodyear have work to do, but talks about boycotting any partner are ridiculous, especially when what you say isn’t factual.

Drew

FYI I’m not letting Goodyear boycotting the NASCAR races because I don’t want them to have any more problems during the races and to top it all I have Goodyear tires on my car so I’m good with Goodyear tires on my car.

AJ

What about engine makers? Honda brags about going years without an engine failure in Indy car (until they got some competition from Chevrolet). Why not design engines with variable rates of failure?

Goodyear needs to drop NASCAR. It barely seems worth it for an innovative technology company to play in a sport where people still long for Dale Earnhardt, carbureted engines, and bias ply tires (literally a comment here already).

Dave

NASCAR is involved in the discussion about the tires and how they are formulated for wear.. Tire management needs to a part of racing. Race set ups of the cars and/or trucks can have a huge impact on wear through out the race.

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