Joey Logano: “We’re concerned” about more tire issues

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It took him some time, but Team Penske’s Joey Logano appears to have finally gotten a grip on Texas Motor Speedway.

Prior to last year’s pair of races on the 1.5-mile oval, “Sliced Bread” had only one Top-5 finish in his first nine starts there. But then came a fifth-place finish in last year’s spring race and then a third-place finish in the fall.

However, Logano and Team Penske are keeping an eye out for more tire issues this weekend at TMS after being one of several teams afflicted by tire failures earlier this month at Fontana.

A broken rear-end gear relegated Logano to a 39th-place finish in the race, but teammate Brad Keselowski suffered a tire failure with less than 10 laps to go that knocked him from the Top 5 to a 26th-place result.

Goodyear has said that they’re confident their Texas tire combination, which features a new version of its ‘multi-zone’ technology for the right sides, will hold up just fine. But that doesn’t appear to have completely alleviated Logano’s fears.

“We’re concerned this weekend for sure for when we get out there,” Logano said today at TMS. “This new package, with the added downforce and added load on these cars – we’re going faster –  it puts a little more strain on these tires and this is one of those race tracks that if you run on that white line, you’re catching some of that apron and we really think that’s what was blowing the tires out.

“You have a lot of camber and then when you put it down on the apron, it’s basically like adding more and it blows out the shoulder of the tire there. With that the added left-rear camber also, they start doing that on low air-pressures for awhile it starts to break away the tread from the sidewall there. Yeah, it’s a concern this weekend for sure.”

Logano admitted that he’d personally like to see a “little tougher” tire to help cut down on the failures but noted that a visit to Goodyear’s factory over the off-season enlightened him on how tricky the manufacturer’s job is to create proper tires for each track.

“They’ve got a lot of really smart people over [at Goodyear], but our cars ask a lot out of a tire,” he said. “I’ve got the most faith in those guys that anyone can have and that’s why I try to help them as much as I can is to give them the best insight of what we’re fighting.

“I know as Team Penske, we give them all the information we possibly can to help them make decisions when they’re back at their shop.”

As for the prospect of the tire issues migrating to the left-side tires if the right-sides did get toughened up, Logano isn’t sure that would be the case.

“I think the issue comes from running on the apron or having a lot of camber at low air-pressures,” he said. “I think that’s where they have the separation issue. I don’t believe the right side tire is gonna change what we’ve got on the left side for that particular issue.

“There might be a different issue I don’t know about that may pop up or may not, but I think for that particular issue, the right side tire shouldn’t have anything to do with that.”

IMSA: Rolex 24 Team Preview – GTLM

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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MotorSportsTalk’s Kyle Lavigne continues the team preview of entries for the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona with the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class. At nine entries, it is the smallest of the three classes entered in this weekend’s Rolex 24 and down from last year’s 11 entries, but past events indicate it may be the event’s most competitive class.

The 2017 Rolex 24 saw four different marques from four different teams battling for the GTLM win late in the race, with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing taking the win with Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais. And in 2016, Corvette Racing saw its No. 3 and 4 entries duel to the checkered flag, with Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, and Marcel Fassler victorious in the No. 4 machine.

Below is a breakdown of the teams entered in the GTLM class.

Corvette Racing
Car: Corvette C7.R
No. 3 (Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia, Mike Rockenfeller)
No. 4 (Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, Marcel Fassler)

Outlook: Corvette Racing has been a perennial powerhouse in GT racing over the entirety of the 21st century, and that isn’t something that’s likely to change. Coming off their 13th championship last year – Garcia and Magnussen took home last year’s GTLM driver’s crown – Corvette Racing now hunts for its fourth Rolex 24 triumph.

With an unchanged package that is proven to be both fast and reliable, Corvette Racing looks set to again feature prominently in the GTLM battle. Barring problems, both cars should be battling up front for the win.

BMW Team RLL
Car: BMW M8 GTLM
No. 24 (Jesse Krohn, John Edwards, Nicky Catsburg, Augusto Farfus)
No. 25 (Alexander Sims, Connor De Phillippi, Bill Auberlen, Philipp Eng)

Outlook: Of all the GTLM entries, BMW Team RLL sees by far the most change to its program. Out is the M6 GTLM and in is the brand new M8 GTLM. Jesse Krohn, Nicky Catsburg, Augusto Farfus, Philipp Eng and Connor De Phillippi are all new drivers to the team, while veteran Bill Auberlen will only contest the four Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup events in 2018.

At the Roar Before the 24, the program appeared to lack speed. Sunday qualifying, to decide pit stall and garage selection, saw the No. 25 qualify the better of the two BMWs, but one second slower than the next quickest car – the BMW set a 1:45.056 for seventh in GTLM, behind the Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE, which set a 1:44.037.

It remains to be seen if there is more speed in the BMW machines, but they remain the most unproven of the GTLM entries. A victory seems out of reach at the moment, but that could change if the package improves.

Risi Competizione
Car: Ferrari 488 GTE
No. 62 (Toni Vilander, Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, Davide Rigon)

Outlook: Risi Competizione came excruciatingly close to winning last year’s Rolex, but a late-race battle between James Calado and Dirk Mueller, of Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, saw Mueller come out on top, while Calado was shuffled back to third by the time the checkered flag fell.

They did not win an event last year, but this is a team that knows how to win big races – they have previously won the Motul Petit Le Mans – and should once again prove to be a major player in the GTLM battle.

The only major change comes in their driver lineup, with Alessandro Pier Guidi and David Rigon joining the lineup and Giancarlo Fisichella departing. But, with Calado and Toni Vilander returning to anchor the driving team, this change is not expected to slow the team down. Expect them to battle at the front all race long.

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing
Car: Ford GT
No. 66 (Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller, Sebastien Bourdais)
No. 67 (Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook, Scott Dixon)

Outlook: Ford Chip Ganassi Racing returns to the Rolex 24 as defending race winners – Hand, Mueller, and Bourdais delivered the victory in 2017. Further, they return with the same driver lineups and car they used. In short, every indication is that they enter this year’s event as favorites to repeat.

The Roar Before the 24 gave further evidence of this. Both of the cars were among the quickest in every session at the Roar, and Sunday qualifying saw its No. 66 end up at the top of the board, with the No. 67 in third.

The GTLM field is strong all the way around, but this team is likely the favorite entering the event.

Porsche GT Team
Car: Porsche 911 RSR

No. 911 (Patrick Pilet, Nick Tandy, Frederic Makowiecki)
No. 912 (Laurens Vanthoor, Earl Bamber, Gianmaria Bruni)

Outlook: Porsche GT Team brings with it a star-studded driver lineup that features former class winners of the Rolex 24, former overall winners of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and a ton of all-around talent.

The team finished a close second at last year’s Rolex 24, with the No. 911 entry, behind the race-winning Ford from Chip Ganassi’s stable. Later that year, they visited victory lane – Porsche finished 1-2 at Lime Rock Park, with the No. 911 taking the victory – proving that the mid-engine 911 RSR is more than up to the task and gives the team everything they need to be contenders.

Porsche will have a fight on their hands, but this is a team that expects to compete for a victory, and they did win this event in 2014. They round out a titanic GTLM grid and should be a fixture throughout the day.

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