NASCAR apologizes, vows to find reasons for Brickyard tire fiasco
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- NASCAR and Goodyear officials haven't found a definitive reason for why the right-side tires were wearing out so fast in Sunday's Sprint Cup debacle at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but they are vowing to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Goodyear plans to return to Indianapolis later this year to conduct a tire test. NASCAR is in the final stages of completing a new test schedule that will allow Sprint Cup teams to more readily test on tracks where they race and hopefully prevent a repeat of Sunday's events.
Both sides agreed it is up to them to find a solution and not for the speedway to fix the track that was resurfaced in 2005.
They also were apologetic to the fans and everyone involved.
"There's nothing wrong with the surface," NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said on Tuesday's weekly conference call. "It's obvious we didn't go there with the right car-tire combination. We've raced on that surface the last four years. I wouldn't ask them to change that surface.
"We've got to do a better job."
There have been tire issues at Indianapolis before, but they've been corrected when the track rubbered in. NASCAR and Goodyear officials were hopeful that would happen again, but it didn't.
The only major difference was the new car, which has a higher center of gravity and is more balanced left to right, resulting in more load on the right side.
"I can't say enough how sorry we are," Pemberton said. "It is our responsibility, NASCAR's, that we don't go through this again."
Pemberton doesn't believe Goodyear needs a full-time test team, as it has had in the past. He said using the best drivers and best cars on the circuit is the best way to get a true evaluation.
Pemberton isn't sure there's anything anybody could have done to avoid Sunday's embarrassment after teams arrived on Friday. The Allstate 400 at the Brickyard was won by two-time defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.
That the track didn't rubber in after 400 laps with 43 cars told him "there wasn't anything we could have done given the circumstances that would have gotten us over the hump."
Pemberton said top officials at NASCAR and Goodyear are looking into why the tires produced more of a powder residue than in the past.
"We've seen that in the past, but we haven't seen the powder to that extent," he said. "Everybody is pointing to the rubber looked a little drier, dustier. We're going to look at it to find exactly what it is."
Pemberton acknowledged that the dramatic change in setups of the cars since Goodyear conducted a tire test at Indianapolis several months ago could have contributed to the problems.
"There's probably been greater changes in a shorter period of time with this new car," he said.
But Pemberton isn't worried about similar fiascoes moving forward. He reminded that with the exception of Atlanta, where Goodyear introduced a tire that drivers complained was too hard, tires haven't been a major issue.
He added there are no plans to add tests the remainder of the season.
Pemberton was scheduled to appear on NASCAR's weekly conference call before Sunday's race. He initially was asked by the conference call host to evaluate the competition through the first 20 races.
But Pemberton opted to address the tire situation first, and he continued to do so for all but a couple of questions.
It's an issue he took personally on Sunday, when he stayed on pit road to deal with the situation instead of taking his usual seat in the control tower. It's an issue he still was taking personally on Tuesday.
"It hurts us whenever we have a weekend like we had," Pemberton said. "There's nothing worse than coming away from a race and knowing the result was it wasn't even close. It wasn't even in the 25th percentile of what we're capable of doing and what we do week in and week out.
"I don't feel real good about it right now. If you talk to anybody around me the last 48 hours they'll back me up on that. It's difficult and hard. But that's what makes us the best motor sport in the world. Whenever we see something that needs fixing, we go fix them."
And Pemberton vowed to have this problem fixed by next season. "When we go back to Indianapolis next year," he said, "we'll probably have the best Brickyard [race] we've ever had."
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.