Tireless effort applauded

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It took a prodigious effort by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. to make Tony Stewart happy with the racing tires selected for Sunday's Allstate 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Stewart, whose criticisms have come without restraint, has joined other drivers in praising Goodyear for the way it responded to last year's debacle.

"I can promise you they have put a full court press on making sure we don't have the same issues that we had last year," Stewart said. "I've gained a lot of respect for Goodyear over the process of working on the tire for Indianapolis and the dedication that they've shown to making sure that doesn't happen again."

The tire wore out so quickly last year, NASCAR was forced to throw mandatory cautions about every 15 laps. Fans were disenchanted, race teams were outraged and NASCAR was embarrassed to the point of offering an apology.

Goodyear accepted the criticism and went to work. The company has conducted seven different test sessions in the past year, using input from 31 drivers.

By the time the Sprint Cup Series rolls into town this weekend, Goodyear will have logged more than 13,000 test miles at the 2.5-mile racetrack.

"I'm very confident that with a full field here that there shouldn't be any issues at all," Stewart said. "I think they've come back with a combination that not only is durable but also made where it should be better racing at that time, too."

Stewart unleashed a tirade at the season-opening Daytona 500 about tire failures that led to a crash involving his teammate, Ryan Newman.

Goodyear brought Stewart to its factory in Akron, Ohio, to show him what goes into making every tire. Goodyear has about 20 different tires that are constructed differently to better match the conditions and demands of each track.

"There's a lot of machines that assist in that process, but some of the key components are still done by a Goodyear engineer that sits there and makes sure it's as perfect as it can be,'' Stewart said. "That put my mind at ease a lot, being able to see firsthand how the production of those tires is made."

Kurt Busch has been at all seven tire tests. He said the process was exhausting as Goodyear narrowed its choices to two compounds - softer rubber for the left side; harder rubber for the right.

"I felt like Goodyear worked really hard through all these tests. But until (June), we didn't have anybody that was ready to race this race and put on a great show for the Brickyard 400. (In June) they hit on it. We unloaded and ran right off the bat, and ran 30 laps total and the tires were fine."

The 30-lap mark was important because that puts teams close to needing gas, too. The goal was to make sure teams didn't need two sets of tires for each tank of gas.

Reach Don Coble at don.coble@morris.com.


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