Jeff Gordon was leading at the Bristol Motor Speedway one week ago when a tire left go on his right front that not only ended his day, but also the day of second place Matt Kenseth. There has been a lot of concern that the tire failures we’ve seen at Bristol and Phoenix might be from the new generation car.
“It wasn’t a setup thing. And it wasn’t a brake heat thing. Or I should say, it wasn’t from using too much brake. I think we could probably run a little bit bigger hose to cool it and that’s something that we’re going to focus on a little bit more as we move forward here. Every year you find ways to create more grip and that’s what the team has done. There’s also always a price to pay with that. I think we’re right there on that edge of damaging the tire or melting the bead. I was not hard on the brakes at all. We went back and looked at all the other cars in our stable and I was probably using the least amount. It’s not a brake thing, it’s really more of just there is still heat being generated over there radiating things and it was too much. We can do a better job to make sure that doesn’t get up into the bead and cause too much heat. I was definitely harder on the right-front on that run because I was out front, I had clean air and I was running faster lap times. It was putting more stress on that right-front that ultimately caused it to blow,” Gordon told reporters Friday from the Auto Club Speedway.
The series gets a week off then is right back to the short tracks, going to the Martinsville Speedway. Should Gordon and other drivers be concerned about this, considering what they saw at Bristol?
“The difference is that we go that extra mile and effort on how we cool everything. Even though the brake temp is three times as much, so is the cooling. That’s the thing about Bristol is it’s a fast race track that you don’t use a lot of brake so when you just look at brake temperature, you think, ‘Well, we don’t need all that cooling.’ There’s still temperature that is being built and gets up into the wheel that gets up into that bead. I didn’t even know this until this weekend that bead can only handle 400 degrees. That’s not much. We obviously got it higher than that and when you’re at Martinsville, it’s not going to be much different than that. It’s going to be about the same, but it’s amazing how much our cooling, our ducting and we have little heat shields and all these things to keep all that temperature that’s there from getting up into that bead,” said Gordon.
My feeling is that we will continue to have tire issues as teams work through the kinks of the new cars. Hopefully Goodyear has learned from the failures so far this year and can bring a better tire combination to the tracks. We’ll see how they did for Fontana in just a few hours.