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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

Petrucci set for MotoGP return at Le Mans

PHILLIP ISLAND, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 18: Danilo Petrucci of Italy and Octo Pramac Racing rounds the bend during the 2016 MotoGP Test Day at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit on February 18, 2016 in Phillip Island, Australia.  (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)
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Danilo Petrucci will make his comeback from injury at this weekend’s MotoGP race in Le Mans after missing the first four races of the season.

Petrucci underwent surgery on his right hand due to a recurring problem that meant he could not race in Qatar, Argentina, Austin or Spain for the Pramac team.

The Italian’s place was taken by Michele Pirro for the last three races, but Petrucci is now fit again and will race at the Circuit de la Sarthe this weekend.

“I trained a lot in the last few weeks. This time I did things more calmly, waiting for my body to give me permission to train,” Petrucci said.

“I’m happy to be back and I feel good. Of course we must see the reaction to the first impact with the track as the intense workout made at home certainly cannot be compared to a race weekend. But I’m very confident.

“I want to thank all the people who helped me, my trainer Marco Baglioni, Tommaso, Filippo, and my brother Francesco who have trained with me, pushing me every day.

“I also want to thank the Medical Team of Terni who provided me with all the tools for physiotherapy and Dr. Tarallo, from the team of prof. Catani, who operated me.

“Then a big thank to all my fans for their support. I can’t wait to be at Le Mans and I hope I can soon give to all of them so much satisfaction.”

The French Grand Prix takes place on Sunday May 8.

Magnussen named Driver of the Day for Russian GP

SOCHI, RUSSIA - MAY 01: Kevin Magnussen of Denmark driving the (20) Renault Sport Formula One Team Renault RS16 Renault RE16 turbo on track during the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on May 1, 2016 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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Kevin Magnussen has won Formula 1’s official Driver of the Day poll for the Russian Grand Prix.

Magnussen started 17th in Sochi after a difficult qualifying session, but made the most of the trouble at the first corner for many of the cars ahead to work his way into the top 10.

The Dane’s pace was impressive during the second half of the race to ensure he finished the race seventh, marking Renault’s first points as an F1 constructor since the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The result was also Magnussen’s first top 10 finish in F1 since the penultimate race of the 2014 season when he raced for McLaren.

On Monday, the official F1 Twitter account confirmed that Magnussen had won the vote through its website.

Kvyat, Gutierrez, Sainz handed penalty points after Russian GP

SOCHI, RUSSIA - MAY 01: Esteban Gutierrez of Mexico driving the (21) Haas F1 Team Haas-Ferrari VF-16 Ferrari 059/5 turbo and Nico Hulkenberg of Germany driving the (27) Sahara Force India F1 Team VJM09 Mercedes PU106C Hybrid turbo collide at the start during the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on May 1, 2016 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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The Russian Grand Prix proved to be a busy race for the FIA stewards as a number of incidents resulted in three drivers receiving penalty points on their super licences.

Daniil Kvyat, Esteban Gutierrez and Carlos Sainz Jr. were all sanctioned by the stewards for actions during the race.

Kvyat’s antics on the first lap defined a number of drivers’ races as he hit Sebastian Vettel twice in a matter of seconds, the second hit punting the Ferrari racer into the wall and out of contention.

Kvyat said after the race that it was easy to attack him, but the rest of the paddock was less than impressed, leaving many expecting an apology from the Russian.

After being handed a 10-second stop/go penalty during the race, Kvyat was also given three points on his FIA super licence, taking his tally up to five for the 12-month period.

Gutierrez was also penalized for an incident on the first lap after he took out Nico Hulkenberg and sparked a multi-car melee at Turn 2. He too received a time penalty during the race, but was handed two penalty points afterwards by the stewards.

Finally, Sainz was found to have forced Jolyon Palmer off track between Turns 2 and 3 during the race. He had 10 seconds added to his race time and also received two penalty points.

F1 Paddock Pass: Russian Grand Prix post-race (VIDEO)

SOCHI, RUSSIA - MAY 01:  Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP celebrates his win on the podium next to Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP, Kimi Raikkonen of Finland and Ferrari  during the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on May 1, 2016 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
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Nico Rosberg saw his Formula 1 championship lead swell to 43 points on Sunday after winning the Russian Grand Prix, marking his seventh straight victory.

The German has not lost since the Mexican Grand Prix back in November, and will head to the start of the European season in Spain later this month full of confidence.

It proved to be a race full of intriguing storylines as Lewis Hamilton fought back from 10th on the grid to finish second, Romain Grosjean took Haas back into the points and everyone got angry with Daniil Kvyat for causing mayhem at Turn 2.

Following the race on Sunday, NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton brings you all of the latest news, interviews and insight in Paddock Pass.