After such a tremendous race last year at Auto Club Speedway and then a terrific Nationwide race on Saturday, you wondered just how the Cup race was going to measure up. I have to say it sure didn’t let us down.
I hated that there were tire issues that had a bearing on the outcome of the race but, regardless of that, we just had some really hard racing all day long on Sunday. Sure, it might have been a battle for 10th place but it seemed at one point it were 15-20 drivers all fighting for that one spot. Seriously, it looked like a pack you would see at Daytona or Talladega at times.
So two years in a row tells me they have the racing just the way we like it there at Auto Club Speedway. I think once we saw that the tire failures Friday and Saturday that were confined to certain organizations, and after talking to Goodyear, I had a comfort level that it really was some of the race teams stepping across the line with some setup things.
However, when you see something like 20 issues as we did on Sunday during the race, well now everybody needs to be looking at everything across the board. I don’t think we can point our finger solely at Goodyear, the race track, the teams, etc. and, actually, I don’t think we need to be pointing our finger at anybody. I just think collectively we all need to take a look at it.
Now, if I was dubbed the ‘NASCAR King for a Day,’ what would I do first to rectify this problem? I know one thing I wouldn’t do and that would be to not touch that race track. We don’t need to take the bumps out. We don’t need to repave it. We need to leave that track surface alone. We don’t need to lose what we have there.
If we go back to last year’s race again, I would wager this tire was right near the edge of durability then. So I think if you spin things ahead to this year and the elimination of the ride height rule and the aggressive setup these teams were now taking, it was just too much for the current tire configuration.
Remember, too, that this car has a lot more downforce than last year’s car. The corner speeds are way up. The loads this poor tire goes through, well I think we really found the edge with this tire and probably crossed it this past weekend.
Now sure, if you look at nine of the top 10 finishers Sunday, they were the ones that didn’t have a tire issue. Again, I just think what was expected of the tire this year was already right at the threshold and unfortunately some teams stepped over that threshold.