HAMPTON, Ga. - Toyota got its first Sprint Cup victory Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but much of the postrace talk was about another company – Goodyear.
"That was the most pathetic racing tire I've ever been on in my professional career," Tony Stewart said.
"They (Goodyear) exited out of Forumla 1 ... IRL ... CART ... World of Outlaws ... and there is a reason for that. Goodyear can't built a tire that is worth a crap.
" ... It was ridiculous to have to race on a tire like this. Not at this level of racing. If they can't do anything better than that, they should just pull out of this sport and save us a bunch of headaches. I guarantee you Hoosier or Firestone or somebody can come in and do a better job that what they are doing right now."
Goodyear is the sole supplier of tires for NASCAR's top three series.
"We do the best job that we can with the data set that we have and we bring the safest tires we know how to build," Justin Fantozzi, marketing manager for Goodyear motorsports, said in response to the pos-trace criticism.
He declined to respond directly to Stewart's comments.
The tires used Sunday were not the same ones teams used during a test with NASCAR's new car here in October.
Fantozzi said concerns over wear led to another tire test at this 1.54-mile track in December. Goodyear then selected a combination of harder right-side tires with left-side tires providing more grip that left many teams struggling.
Stewart complained teams didn't have data telling them what tires they would have here until a week ago.
Fantozzi said that data became available to teams in January and that Goodyear has been fielding technical questions since before the Daytona 500.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished third Sunday, said that didn't matter.
"No amount of time would have prepared us for that," he said. "There was no way, you weren't going to hook that tire up."
Earnhardt Jr. said he understands Goodyear didn't want to provide tires that wouldn't stand up under racing conditions at a track where excessive wear had been an issue.
"The tire we used to run here ran into the cords, but you could still run on it," he said.
"With these tires, I could still see the center mold line on my tire after 30 laps. There has to be several steps between that. ... Goodyear doesn't like to hear drivers bash them and I don't like to do it. But I am not going to just sit here and take this."
Stewart said he wasn't trying to bash Goodyear as much as he was asking the company and NASCAR to do something different.
"We don't want to have to race like this on tires like we had this week," Stewart said.
"There wasn't anything about today's race that was fun. I ran second and I wouldn't rerun this race for any amount of money.
"I am pleading with Goodyear to do something about this. Take some of the money they give NASCAR and put it into a research and development program. Do something. ... They have been in the sport a long time. They need to figure it out.
"The guys they have aren't getting it done right now. ... I don't know what it's going to take to get them to improve their product."