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What Exactly Caused All of the Tire Issues at Bristol?

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Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

The NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol this weekend was defined by one thing, tires. Tires were wearing out very quickly, and the race became entirely about tire management. However, Goodyear did not bring a new tire to Bristol, it wasn’t a new version and was, in fact, the same tire as the previous Bristol race. So, what happened?

  • While this was the first spring race at Bristol in the Next-Gen era, the Next-Gen car has two races on concrete at Bristol on its’ resume. Goodyear brought the same tire in 2023, and NASCAR brought the same rules package in 2023.
  • Regardless, the tires began wearing out, creating large chunks of rubber, called “marbles” on the top groove. Right-side tires were wearing down to the cords before half of a fuel run was up. The result was a chaotic race with 9 caution flags and 54 lead changes.
  • Fans generally enjoyed this race. It was unlike anything they had ever seen, and the tire wear played a major factor.

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What Goodyear Had to Say

Greg Stucker of Goodyear held a brief press conference during the race on Sunday. He said that the tire wear was “Too drastic”, and he explained that the track not taking any rubber was the reason for the intense tire degradation.

It’s the same package. It’s the same tire combination. Obvously, the difference is, resin was placed on the lower groove instead of PJ1, yet, I still think the race track should be taking rubber as it did last fall. Still a bit of an unknown as far as why [the race track] is not behaving the same way.

Greg Stucker

There are two elements at play here. There’s a lack of rubber on the race track and the application of Resin instead of PJ1 on the inside of the race track. We’ll break down both.

Rubber Being Laid Down

When fans show up to a race track, typically as a weekend goes on, they will notice the track surface beginning to darken in the corners. This is where the tires lay down rubber as the tires begin to wear out. This is especially prevalent on concrete surfaces such as Martinsville. We saw this happen at Martinsville in 2023.

The rubber being laid down smooths out the track surface. A rough track surface will grind against the tire and cause the tires to wear quickly, which is what happened at Bristol. There was no rubber laid down, and, as a result, the tires started wearing out quickly.

The “Resin”

NASCAR used a different traction compound on the bottom of the race track at Bristol. The intent was to make the bottom of the race track grippier, which would encourage drivers to race along the bottom of the race track. We explain more about the usage of traction compounds in the article below.

This weekend, NASCAR used Resin as the traction compound on the bottom of the race track. With this being the one variable, it’s easy to blame the resin for the extreme tire wear, but, Goodyear’s Greg Stucker is not as certain. There was no rubber laid down despite drivers using the second land above the traction compound to pass lapped cars. We see below that there is no rubber on the track whatsoever.

Usually at Bristol, the groove will widen out as the race goes on, but, that did not happen here. Even though drivers were using the top of the race track, and making time there throughout the race. Why was there no rubber laid down even outside of the traction compound?

That being said, it was the only thing different on Sunday compared to the past. The rules package and tire combound were both the same, so, it’s important to consider.

Ultimately, we do not know everything that happened on Sunday to cause the amount of tire failures. Goodyear has yet to jump to any conclusions, but, we have some clues.

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Joshua Lipowski

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