Jeff Gordon was not happy after having a potential shot at an all-important victory on Sunday at Auto Club Speedway fizzle into a 13th place finish. Throughout the race teams were having tires come apart after about 20 laps and while Gordon's No. 24 Chevrolet team never had one of their Goodyears come apart he said every pit stop the signs were there that they could have been the next.
NASCAR made rule changes to the intermediate track race package of the Gen-6 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars in late December and Goodyear did not have time to test tires at the tracks early in the schedule. The first major issues showed at Auto Club Speedway's old track surface.
With the new rules that have put more downforce on the cars and increased corner speed the same tires that were used last season at Auto Club Speedway did not hold up. Gordon feels like a similar issue could arise at Texas Motor Speedway next week as he believes NASCAR and Goodyear did not do any new testing at that track.
"My question is, did Goodyear test there? Because from what I understand they didn't test in California and I think that that obviously was a mistake," Gordon said Friday at Martinsville Speedway. "Because I think some of those things may have shown up in that test. Did they test at Texas? If they didn't I hope they have a backup plan because I do think we're going to have some issues there."
Goodyear attributed the tire issues on Sunday to teams running less than the suggested tire pressure and aggressive setups to try to create more grip. Gordon feels like teams are going to be aggressive since winning means more with the new Chase qualifying system being based on wins. He feels like the teams definitely have their role in the issues but felt like Goodyear should have been bettered prepared with a tire that can withstand the new rules.
Jeff Gordon was running second to teammate Jimmie Johnson late in the race when Johnson had a tire come apart which gave Gordon the lead. A rash of other tire problems for other drivers finally culminated in a caution coming out with two laps left. Since new tires meant so much Gordon and almost everyone else pitted but by taking four tires Gordon restarted seventh for the green-white-checkered and did not get a good restart on the bottom. By the time the two laps were over Gordon had seen a win disappear into a 13th place finish.
Gordon can take some of the blame for sure. He needs to improve his restarts and he knows it. His crew chief Alan Gustafson can also take some of the blame because the race winning move could have been to take two tires. The whole team can take blame since two other cars including race winner Kyle Busch took four tires but got off pit road ahead of Gordon.
It wasn't just Goodyear's tire issue that cost Gordon a win on Sunday, it was himself and his team.
The No. 24 team can rebound this weekend at Martinsville Speedway though as it is one of Gordon's best tracks. Gordon won last October at Martinsville and has eight total wins there. It will be a nice chance to lock himself into the Chase before the Sprint Cup Series heads to Texas where Gordon feels tires could be an issue again.
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