Early woes lead to Bristol tire change

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Lee Spencer

Lee Spencer is the Senior NASCAR Writer for She has provided award-winning coverage of auto racing over the last 15 years. Spencer has lent her expertise to both television and radio and is a regular contributor to SiriusXM Radio and the Performance Racing Network. Follow her on Twitter.



Officials with Goodyear Tire Co. met with NASCAR crew chiefs following the first practice of the weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway and opted to change the right-side tires for this weekend's races.

STP 400

Prerace coverage from Kansas begins June 5 at 12:30 p.m. ET on FOX.


Nationwide Series teams practiced first at the half-mile oval, and under green conditions tires were showing cords early in their runs. While Sprint Cup teams were able to run between 15 and 50 laps before the cords came into view, with the cooler temperatures on Friday, the track never “rubbered up” to the degree that NASCAR, Goodyear or the competitors had expected.

Rick Heinrich, Goodyear product manager said, "With the lack of improvement it was clear that we needed to react."

Goodyear is already coordinating the shipment of 1,200-1,300 new tires for this weekend. Due to the number of sets needed for both races, Goodyear will use Code 4408 for the Nationwide Series and 4386 for Sprint Cup. Both compounds have been used in the past at Bristol. Goodyear's NASCAR project manager Rick Campbell described the new tires as a "known commodity which had been raced effectively before” at the track. Campbell told the teams to treat the new tires the same as the old compounds run at Bristol.

Campbell also described Nationwide tire as “virtually identical” but a “tuned up” version of the new Cup tire. Due to the Nationwide Series running the new car at Bristol for the first time, everyone agreed it was best to give that series a known commodity. The new Cup tire has been used at both Kansas and Auto Club Speedways in the past.

“The Nationwide Series will qualify (Saturday) on the same tires they’re on today (Friday),” NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said. “They’ll change those tires during a competition yellow at roughly Lap 25 of the Nationwide race.”

Sprint Cup teams will also qualify on the existing tire, which was not tested prior to this weekend. Sprint Cup teams will received one set of tires on Saturday to develop a baseline for Sunday’s race.

“Right now, the mindset is that we’re in survival mode," Kurt Busch said. "We don’t know when or if we’re going to have a tire problem. You just have to balance out your setup so that you’re not abusing the right front more than the right rear tire. We’ll see what happens in practice tomorrow. There’s times when tires are right on the edge and you have to play the tire game.”

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