Goodyear has right-side tire issues

Updated: March 18, 2011, 3:41 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Due to severe wear on right-side tires and their failure to "rubber in" with the track, Goodyear is rushing in a new compound for Saturday's Nationwide Series and Sunday's Sprint Cup Series races at Bristol Motor Speedway.

About 1,200 tires are being shipped from the Charlotte, N.C., area.

Usually, as drivers run more practice laps, rubber from the tire is ground into the track's surface, and that alleviates excessive tire wear.

"With the lack of improvement it was obvious we needed to react," Goodyear's Rick Heinrich said Friday.

Goodyear officials said the situation was different from what happened at Indianapolis in 2008, when tires wore out so fast that NASCAR had to mandate pit stops every nine laps of green-flag racing.

But several drivers commented that the tires put down a powder similar to what they saw that day at Indy three years ago.

Goodyear changed the compound for the right-side tire in the Nationwide and Cup Series in an attempt to provide more grip. But it became obvious early on Friday that the approach was not working.

Denny Hamlin said he was able to run only 30 laps, about 100 laps short of a fuel run, on the right-side tires Goodyear brought to the track.

Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president for competition, said tests likely will be scheduled before the August race in Bristol to make sure there is no repeat of what happened to Hamlin.

The replacement tires for the Nationwide Series will be identical to the tires used in Bristol last year. The Cup cars will use the same compound that worked at Kansas and California last season.

Pemberton said he supported Goodyear's decision to react quickly.

"There's tires in the barn ready to race anywhere and everywhere we go," Pemberton said.

Kurt Busch, who is tied atop the Cup standings with Tony Stewart, said teams are scrambling because they have only one set of tires to practice on before the new tires arrive. Busch said Goodyear made the right decision to change.

"You can just see the racetrack is not rubbering in," he said. "It's almost like the tires are turning into powder like we saw at Indianapolis."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter