It's a tad difficult to summarize today's Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway. There were so many different elements in the hot mess that singling anything out is challenging. That said, one overriding observation must be made:
Goodyear, you've got some 'splainin' to do.
Apparently no one within Akron's city limits has heard of, let alone understands, the difference between tire wear
and tire load
. In racing, you want tire wear. You want the tires soft enough so they do wear, as this means the tires, at least at the beginning of a run, have grip. This is a good thing. Otherwise, you have the scenario of tires lasting forever and races seemingly lasting the same length due to everyone being unable to do anything vaguely resembling passing one another because they're sliding sideways when they'd much rather be skedaddling straight ahead. Why? The tire is too hard.
Tire load, however, is a whole 'nuther story. In the wonderful and sometimes wacky world of auto racing, you expect a tire to be capable of handing its prescribed load; i.e., the amount of weight and stress to which it will be subjected during a race. Fair enough, methinks.
Now, bear in mind that the only unknown in NASCAR is how anyone directly involved with the sport cannot know everything on the mechanical side of things that goes into the sport. Everything on the car is tested, measured, examined, analyzed and recorded. Everything
Now, along with everyone else Goodyear knows the differences between this year's car and last year's car. They know the cars are faster. They know the cars are carrying more downforce. They know teams can be, therefore will be, using far more aggressive setups. They know every track's characteristics. Therefore, it stands to reason Goodyear would take a good look at what tires it brings to each race and beef them up accordingly, ¿no te parece?
Naah. Let's bring the exact same tire we used last year! BRILLIANT! What could possibly go wrong?
As all witnessed, no matter how Goodyear and/or NASCAR and/or even some drivers alibied, plenty. Races should be decided on the basis of driving ability, strategy, best use of equipment, car building ability... you know, stuff like that. Yes, it's racing and weird things happen. You are going to get oddball parts failures and such. But when car after car after car after car after car suffers the exact same tire failure, spare us the inanity of insisting it's all the car setup and/or track's fault.
It is not the teams or any track's responsibility to build a tire that can go more than twenty laps before turning into shredded wheat. It is Goodyear's responsibility to build a tire that meets the needs dictated by this year's car and the tracks as they are. Period. Failure to do so rests entirely on them. Period.
As to the race itself, while it didn't quite have the fun factor that permeated the Nationwide race, it had its moments. Certainly before his turn on the Goodyear glopout ride Jimmie Johnson was smoking the field, but there were very few moments when someone wasn't racing someone else (or several someone else's) for position. The green-white-I'd like to thank my sponsor was a scramble and a half, with Kyle Busch managing to seize order out of chaos that amply demonstrated the drivers collective skill in going helter skelter without everyone hitting everyone else. All in all, it could have been a really good show. But, thanks to Goodyear, the race became almost an afterthought. Nice going, gang.
On to the nuclear hot dog... er, Martinsville.
PS: Speaking of things that come from Akron...