Due to prior commitments, I did not get to watch much of Sunday's race at Pocono on TV, but I did get to hear roughly one third of the actual race coverage on Motor Racing Network, Nascar's "Voice of Nascar" radio program. I like MRN and all the crew. They provide the next best thing to actually watching a race, and MRN's coverage has always been top notch.
But I've got a question to ask. I don't remember the particular details, but on two different occasions, I heard of a driver making contact with the wall or with another driver's car, and having to come to pit road to change tires. The MRN guys were stepping all over themselves to make it very clear that the tire damage was caused by a fender rub, or contact with the wall, and most definitely NOT because Goodyear had provided an inferior product, which to many seemed to be the case at last week's Indianapolis race.
I am not sure of the exact details of MRN's relationship with Nascar. MRN is not the only service which provides radio coverage of Nascar events. Performance Racing Network also covers a handful of races for Nascar. I assume that Nascar licenses the radio broadcasting rights to both networks, and as such, probably have a clause in their respective contracts that Nascar is indeed the star of the show, as is Nascar's right, it would seem.
The broadcasters seemed to go overboard about the tire deal though. Though obviously I wasn't at the track or in the broadcast booth, I had images in my mind of sheets of paper posted within view of everyone who had a microphone that read, in very large print: REMEMBER! IF ANYONE HAS TIRE PROBLEMS TODAY, IT'S NOT GOODYEAR'S OR NASCAR'S FAULT!"
I have no way of knowing for sure whether this was the case or not, but I had to laugh out loud when several of the broadcasters, including the anchor, turn reporter and pit reporter all repeated the same thing: "The tire had problems because of damage from the wall or from a collision with another car. It was not because the tire was a bad tire."
I know that many people, including myself, have been critical of the way Nascar and Goodyear basically screwed up the second biggest race of the year at Indianapolis. I wasn't then, nor am I now willing to condemn both entities as being washed up though. Even multi billion dollar corporations make mistakes now and then, and Indianapolis was an embarrassment for both companies, without a doubt. But one has to wonder about what was said prior to the race at Pocono, and who said it, and what penalties would be levied if the instructions weren't carried out to the letter. All I know is that the MRN reporters literally took turns making sure that neither Nascar nor Goodyear were to blame for any tire problems in yesterday's race.
I'm sure that the problems that occurred at Indy will be ironed out before next year's race. I imagine there will be adequate testing there before next July. This year, only 3 drivers tested there for Goodyear, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. was one of them. Dale Jr. said that tires were wearing out after 5 laps, and he thought at the time that well, heck, this is just a test, Goodyear will fix this before we actually race here. It appears that Goodyear knew that they had a problem with the Indy tire well before the actual race, but apparently took no measures to fix the problem. Why that was allowed to happen, I have no idea, but I doubt that it will happen, at least at Indianapolis, ever again.
A lot of people have put blame for the tire problems on the new car, or what used to be referred to as the Car of Tomorow. It's heavier, has a higher center of gravity, and puts much more weight on the right side of the car in the corners than did the old car. Nascar has decreed that the new car is here to stay, and I imagine this has created nightmares for Goodyear's research and development people trying to make racing tires that will work with the new car.
What I see as a possible solution for this is that Nascar and Goodyear work in conjunction more on tire testing. Goodyear hires it's own test drivers, and Nascar, through the actual racing teams, provides a test car from every manufacturer for Goodyear's use. Goodyear, with their dedicated team of test drivers, will test on every track at which Nascar runs races. They test 180 days a year, if necessary. Goodyear will be able to try what they think will be their best tire, and if that tire doesn't work, they make a new one and test them again. The actual racing teams will be allowed to test as well, as they have in the past, with whatever Goodyear determines to be the tire they will use for the actual race.
Will this cost more money? Of course it will. But in the long run, Nascar and Goodyear should reap the rewards of putting on better races than the debacle which was the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.