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Tires should not be an issue at Indy this year

Chris Symeon, Motorsports Editor

The Inside Line Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - One year after the tire debacle in the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, NASCAR and Goodyear officials will certainly hold their collective breath that a repeat occurrence doesn't unfold in this weekend's Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

NASCAR and Goodyear faced such a fiasco with tires in last year's race at Indy. A track-record 52 of 160 laps were run under caution, as NASCAR planned nine competition cautions to allow teams to come down pit road and change their tires. No more than 12 consecutive green-flag laps occurred during the event. It was only fitting that after taking the checkered flag at Indy, Jimmie Johnson blew one of his tires while doing a burnout.

Since then, Goodyear has conducted seven tire tests at the famed track, with the most recent test held there June 15-16. The tire maker is now confident the problem has been resolved.

According to Greg Stucker, Goodyear's director of racing tire sales, more than 20 different tire formulas for Indy were tested in the past year. Stucker said Goodyear picked what he believes is the right tire combination used in the June 1-2 test there.

Since last year, Goodyear has conducted seven tire tests at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
In addition to Indy, Goodyear conducted in-house testing at their company's test track in Akron, Ohio. The track surface at the Akron facility is a replica of the grinding IMS surface.

Jeff Gordon, a four-time Brickyard 400 winner, participated in the last test at Indy, and was pleased with Goodyear's tire combination for the race.

"I'm 100% confident in this tire," Gordon said. "I can promise all the fans out there that if they want to come to the Brickyard and see a great race and be confident that the tires are not going to be an issue, they can trust me. Goodyear has got it resolved for sure."

Even Tony Stewart, the most outspoken critic of Goodyear, has no doubts about the tire.

"I think everybody from NASCAR to the teams to Goodyear have done their part and done the best job they can to try to find the solution so we don't have a race like we had last year," Stewart said.

Since its inaugural running in 1994, the 400-mile race at Indy has been arguably the second most prestigious event on the Sprint Cup season schedule. But Indy's date has gone from one of the most prized tickets in NASCAR to sluggish ticket sales for the track in recent years, mainly due to uneventful racing on the flat 2.5-mile surface.

It's likely Indy will have a lot of empty seats on Sunday, with fans still disgruntled about last year's race.

But fans should expect a much better race at Indy this time, since NASCAR and Goodyear have worked diligently to rectify the tire issue.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Symeon at csymeon@sportsnetwork.com.

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