Goodyear confident of tire performance this weekend in Texas

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Two weekends ago, Goodyear found itself both criticized and defended after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway featured a plethora of tire failures – including several that occurred within the final handful of laps.

Last weekend, tires weren’t the issue at the short track of Martinsville Speedway. But now, the series has set up shop at Texas Motor Speedway, which features multiple grooves and a worn-out track surface like that of the the two-mile ACS oval in Fontana, California.

For this week’s Cup and Nationwide Series races at TMS, Goodyear is rolling out a tire combination that features the same left-side tires that have been used there since 2011 and a new version of its “multi-zone” tires for its right-side rubber.

The multi-zone tires, which combine two distinct tread compounds for more grip and durability, debuted last August at Atlanta Motor Speedway. They were brought back at Kansas Speedway later on in October.

NASCAR has opted not to regulate tire pressures for this weekend’s events, with vice president of competition Robin Pemberton telling the Associated Press that they want the teams to determine their own fate in that regard.

“If a guy has a tire issue that is self-inflicted and gets out of the car and blames Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., that’s a bad deal,” Pemberton said to the AP.

“That basically is what some of them tried to do at California.”

At Fontana, Pemberton said that the tire failures largely came down to aggressive set-ups from the teams that included running air pressures far lower than the tire maker’s recommendations.

Post-race reaction from the drivers were mixed, as Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski put the blame on Goodyear for not being prepared well enough.

Others such as Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kurt Busch said that the failures were for other reasons such as Fontana’s bump-ridden backstretch and the aforementioned set-ups.

Today at TMS, Goodyear racing director Greg Stucker said he was confident that the tire combo for this weekend would perform well under pressure.

“I think on the heels of some of the issues we saw at Fontana, people are asking the question, ‘Is there a possibility we could see the same thing?’ There’s always that possibility,” he said.

“People are always pushing the envelope, always trying to stress all parts of the racecar. We understand that and support that. That’s what makes racing great, right? Historically [at Texas], we haven’t seen a lot of that so I don’t have a lot of concerns above and beyond what we would have in a normal weekend.”

Pemberton also said today that he expected the teams to continue pushing the envelope even after the Fontana failures.

“I’m proud of them to push the limits like that,” he said. “But they also know they have to finish races. They know better than we do. We’re just the governing body.

“They’re the competitors. They’ve got a lot on the line. They’re the best at pushing it to the limit. They’ll adjust accordingly.”

Goodyear’s pressure recommendations for TMS are as follows:

  • Technical Inspection Inflation: Left Front — 30 psi; Left Rear — 30 psi Right Front — 50 psi; Right Rear — 47 psi
  • Minimum Recommended Inflation: Left Front — 23 psi; Left Rear — 21 psi; Right Front — 51 psi; Right Rear — 47 psi

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”