Because the Atlanta Motor Speedway was repaved and reconfigured ahead of the 2022 Cup Series season, NASCAR drivers expected a bit of mayhem. What NASCAR drivers and officials did not expect, however, was the three different tire failures in leading drivers during the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 in Atlanta.
On more than one occasion, an incident on the track led to a race-ending wreck for the Cup Series drivers. And because so many of these incidents were caused by a right rear failure in front of the field, NASCAR tire manufacturer Goodyear intends to dig deeper into the malfunctions.
Goodyear Racing Director Greg Stucker shared his suspicions. “They are all the same manufacturer, we do know that. And that’s a little bit suspicious,” Stucker said. “The fact that it’s the right rear is kind of unique and strange because the right rear is not the most heavily loaded position on the race car. That’s the right front.”
“So, we’re trying to understand what’s going on. We didn’t see anything at all in practice. We had guys put 50 plus laps on tires in practice, and we saw nothing at all, no indication of anyone having any sort of issue whatsoever.”
“We’re collecting those tires, and we’ll get them back to Akron. We’ll have a better ability to have a look at them to see if we can find anything and work with the teams to try to understand where they were with suspension, air pressure – always a factor to consider – because the tires all failed in the same fashion.”
NASCAR Drivers Talk Tire Failures in Atlanta
Though he was able to snag a 2nd place finish, Ross Chastain didn’t have the smoothest ride on the new Atlanta Motor Speedway. The No. 1 driver was one of the unfortunate competitors to blow a tire while in lead position, losing two laps in the process.
“I was asking Phil (Surgen), my crew chief, and I wasn’t sure if I should go easy on my right rear. He didn’t feel that was the case, so we went hard when we needed to,” Chastain said. “It’s not a great feeling. I feel like I had a grenade in my hand and the pin was pulled. I don’t have the smoothest of hands, so I was afraid I was going to lose it again.”
Ross Chastain continued, “I really had no idea if I would blow another tire. It wasn’t a good feeling and hopefully Goodyear gives us some answers. Hopefully we can have some healthy dialogue there. And if it was our fault, we have to go to work and we’ll take that to Chevrolet, or I will.”
Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 champion, William Byron, had a different opinion. Unlike Ross Chastain and other front-running drivers, Byron never had trouble with his tires. He also wasn’t concerned that he would experience such an issue.
“I think Goodyear has done a good job of making sure that the right front does last,” Byron said. “But the right rear is a little bit of an unpredictable thing because typically you’re not on the right rear that hard on a repave because you can’t be loose.”
“It was unique that that was an issue, but I’m sure it’s just something new with the track and something we’ll work through.”