Gordon: Fans will return with changes

7/21/2009 - NASCAR

Jeff Gordon believes it may take awhile to win back fan support at Indianapolis after last year's tire problem in the Allstate 400.

"Certainly a lot of damage was done," Gordon said Tuesday during a conference call. "The fans were disappointed and they should have been. We all were disappointed. It might not turn around in one race. It might take a couple of races to repair that, but I believe it can happen."

Ticket sales are down for Sunday's Allstate 400. The economy is one reason, but it's also likely that some fans were turned off by last year's embarrassing show.

NASCAR was forced to throw a caution flag every 10 to 12 laps during the 2008 race because of major problems with tire wear. Tires would disintegrate into shattered pieces of rubber in fewer than 20 laps around the 2.5-mile rectangle.

But Gordon is convinced Goodyear and NASCAR have solved those problems after seven test sessions at Indianapolis Motor Speedway since last summer.

"Goodyear took the brunt of [criticism], but those tires wore out for a number of reasons," Gordon said. "It took a lot longer to find what tire and compound would work there, longer than they expected. But they have found it and that's what I'm happy about."

Gordon, a four-time winner of the Allstate 400, participated in the final tire test at Indy last month. He was 100 percent convinced the tire issues are corrected.

"I think the fans that come out this year will see a whole different type of race," Gordon said. "I was very pleased at the test. We're not going to have issues with the tires wearing down cords every 10 laps."

Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com.