Drivers comment on Sonoma tire problems
Photo by Robert Laberge / NASCAR via Getty Images
Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger looks at tires in the Sonoma garage area prior to the start of Sunday's Toyota / Save Mart 350.
While racing in wine country this weekend, turning right and left wasn't the only obstacle drivers had to overcome—the tires on the racecars were too.
Several drivers were plagued with Goodyear tire problems throughout Sunday’s Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway. Drivers like Jamie McMurray, Alex Bowman, and Jeff Gordon were able to pit before tires became their tires came apart. Drivers such as David Gilliland and Matt Kenseth had their tire completely come apart. Gilliland’s day ended with his car in the tire barrier outside turn 10 and Kenseth a lap down most of the race.
“That was a bad deal,” Gilliland said of his day. “I just passed Sam Hornish up in seven and went through the esses and I just told Donnie, ‘I think I’ve got a left-front going down—it’s soft.’”
Gilliland was thankful for another type of tire Sunday—the tire barriers that helped soften in the impact of his crash.
“Who knows if it would have been just the concrete,” he said, adding “That definitely softened the blow a little bit.”
Goodyear Racing released a statement during the race on their Twitter account, stating, "Several tires have shown damage at Sonoma. This tire is on soft end of spectrum to give grip. Harsh conditions of road racing contributes (to wear and damage).”
Photo by Sarah Crabill/NASCAR via Getty Images
Tires in the pits shown by Fox Sports cameras showed a significant "chunking" effect from the tire. Where large pieces of the top layer of the tire were splitting from the tire itself, leading to the tire completely coming apart entirely.
Despite the tire problems, Gordon’s day ended with a 16th place effort after the four-time champion elected to stay out during the final caution of the race.
“I know it wasn’t the finish we all wanted, but it was a very memorable weekend,” he said. “It’s still a little bit more fun to go to hang out with some of my friends and family here.
“But, I hate that we weren’t a little bit better. And that last thing, I was just taking some risk on that last pit stop. We didn’t have anything to lose at that point.”