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.”

Daniel Ricciardo would relish being Lewis Hamilton’s teammate

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BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — Daniel Ricciardo says he would relish the challenge of having Lewis Hamilton as his teammate if he joins Mercedes next year.

Ricciardo is out of contract at Red Bull at the end of the season and expressed interest in joining teams like Mercedes or Ferrari to help him challenge for the championship.

The Australian says he would “love to obviously be challenged against the best and Lewis is obviously up there.”

He adds: “I don’t want to say it’s just Lewis I’m looking for but that would be a good challenge.”

Ricciardo says he won’t accept a faster car if it means playing second fiddle to an established star.

He says “there’s always been really good clarity and fairness (at Red Bull) … and I would expect that environment everywhere.”