Dale Jarrett on Tuesday called on Goodyear to listen carefully to Tony Stewart¡¦s complaints about the tires the company has produced this season.
Although some drivers believe Stewart went overboard in his criticism of Goodyear following Sunday¡¦s race in Atlanta, Jarrett said the manufacturer needs to start constructing a better tire for Sprint Cup racing.
¡§I have no problem with what Tony Stewart said. I¡¦m a huge supporter of Goodyear and all that they have done over the years, but somebody needs to wake up right now and listen to these guys,¡¨ said Jarrett, the former series champion who is retiring following Sunday¡¦s race in Bristol, Tenn.
¡§We¡¦re talking about race drivers that have a huge amount of talent and very seldom complain about things like that.¡¨
Stewart was livid with Goodyear all last weekend, when he complained about a lack of grip on the hard tires the company sent to Atlanta. Following his second-place finish, the two-time series champion said Goodyear gave him ¡§the most pathetic racing tire I¡¦ve ever been on in my professional career.¡¨
Goodyear has staunchly defended its product. But Tuesday, Texas Motor Speedway officials said Goodyear will not bring the Atlanta tire to its track for next month¡¦s race.
Atlanta and Texas are essentially sister tracks with identical layouts and the same 24 degree banking in the corners.
Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were among the many drivers to echo Stewart¡¦s complaints after the Atlanta race, but a handful of drivers on Monday decided Stewart went too far.
¡§I think he went a little overboard. He kind of made it personal,¡¨ Gordon, the four-time series champion, said. ¡§We were all pretty out of control out there. I don¡¦t disagree with him as far as the comfort level in the situation we were in.
¡§But we have to look at all sides of this and try to give the folks that are doing their jobs the ability and constructive criticism to try to do it better.¡¨
Goodyear said in a statement Monday it was pleased it had no safety issues because of the hard compound it brought to combat Atlanta¡¦s abrasive surface. Still, the company promised to re-evaluate before returning to Atlanta in October.
¡§Even though both Goodyear and NASCAR were satisfied with the tire¡¦s performance in Atlanta, if the drivers are not happy, then Goodyear¡¦s not happy,¡¨ the company said.
That sent Stewart on a second rant Monday evening on his national radio show.
¡§If they truly believe that they were satisfied with the way the race went „mI¡¦m more disappointed than ever,¡¨ Stewart said on Sirius Satellite Radio. ¡§And I can¡¦t believe that NASCAR, at the end of the day, is truly, honestly, happy with the results.¡¨
As the exclusive tire provider of NASCAR, Goodyear is not subjected to competition from other manufacturers.
And NASCAR can¡¦t allow other companies to enter the sport for risk of a ¡§tire war¡¨ in which manufacturers are putting safety at risk while trying to develop a faster tire that teams will select.
On Tuesday, Jarrett said he has gone to NASCAR before to urge the sanctioning body to mandate Goodyear develop separate tires for the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series. In using the same tire, the rubber must be strong enough to withstand a significant amount of downforce in the Nationwide cars.
The Cup cars have roughly 400 lbs. less downforce, and don¡¦t need such a hard tire, Jarrett said.
¡§We can¡¦t race the same tire on the Nationwide cars that is going to be any good for the Cup cars. That¡¦s just plain and simple,¡¨ Jarrett said. ¡§You¡¦re not going to be able to put on a good show. These guys cannot drive these cars to the point of putting on a good race for the fans, which is what our sport was built on.
¡§So somebody is going to have to swallow their pride right now, and we are going to have to have two separate tires done there.¡¨
Kyle Busch, the current Cup and Truck Series points leader and winner of both series¡¦ races in Atlanta, also disliked the tires and said Tuesday he wants Goodyear to make different sets for the three different series.
¡§You have to build a tire that¡¦s different for all three vehicles, or at least different for the Nationwide from the Cup car in order to be able to make everything work out right,¡¨ Busch said. ¡§At Atlanta, the tire was too hard for all three vehicles.¡¨
Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage is also lobbying NASCAR for a test at his track before its April 6 race, in which Goodyear will use not the Atlanta tires but essentially the same compound it used last season.
¡§Failing that, we would encourage NASCAR to add practice time to the race weekend schedule to give teams a bit more time to get comfortable with this new car and tire combination,¡¨ Gossage said. ¡§We hope after the Atlanta race that they will see the wisdom behind our suggestion.¡¨