ANDY CAGLE: Tire Excuses: Lack of Preparation, Bad Wheels Flatten Race
I would love to tell you that those responsible have been sacked.
But alas, all we get are some lame excuses and also lame apologies as to why one of NASCAR's alleged premier events turned more absurd than any Monty Python movie.
Five days later I still can't find the words to describe that, um, event that occurred at the hallowed Indianapolis Motor Speedway last Sunday.
Note, I didn't refer to it as a race. That was a lot of things, but a race it wasn't.
I have to agree with Brian Vickers, for NASCAR and Goodyear to go into one of the biggest events on the schedule with such an unknown commodity shoeing the cars is unacceptable.
In fact, Vickers summed it up pretty well. "I'm embarrassed for the sport, for myself, for Goodyear, for NASCAR and the track," he said after his 42nd place finish. "It's just unacceptable at this level."
Again, I'm going to agree with the little red-headed kid.
Unacceptable. Seriously, no green flag runs longer than 12 laps. I understand NASCAR throwing the caution to allow teams to come in and change the rubber things that the cars were rolling around on.
Note, I didn't refer to them as tires. I'm not sure what they were, but tires they weren't.
It would be different if Goodyear hadn't been making rubber for cars for over a century and if NASCAR hadn't been putting on races since the Truman administration.
Going into Sunday's race, they knew they had a problem with the rubber they brought to the track and, frankly, it was the product of poor planning. They were bringing another unknown commodity to the race track in the heavier, thus putting more stress on the ride side rubber, new car without any substantial testing on the wide, fast, flat racetrack whose design was never intended for big ol' heavy stock cars, much less the big ol' heavier stock car that NASCAR now uses.
I mean, we are talking about a professional sports-sanctioning body (alleged) and a Fortune 500 company here.
For them to assume that the track would "rubber in" as the race progressed without any full-fledged testing with the new car and the rubber compound was nothing short of stupid.
For their part, the drivers backed NASCAR's decision to break the race up into a series of heat races followed by a pit stop competition -- sort of.
"I feel bad for NASCAR," said Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished 12th after battling back from, you guessed it, a flat tire in the early going. They are going to take a lot of heat for this and they certainly don't deserve it.
"I like what NASCAR did. That is the only way we could have put on a show today. I'm ashamed, but there wasn't much we could do beside load them up and not run at all."
NASCAR Sprint Cup Director Robin Pemberton said that the sanctioning body did what they could considering the circumstances.
"Hindsight is 20/20," said Pemberton. "I think we'll just learn from this experience and try to come back and do a little bit better job next year when we come back."
That doesn't really help the guy that spent over $4.00 a gallon on gas, doled out crazy bucks for a hotel room and dropped three figures for tickets to watch the mess unfold.
To that argument, Pemberton responded, "We're here to put on the best races we can and we do a damn good job of it most of the time."
And me, being the cynic that I am, think back to the Coca Cola 600 in 2005 and the "levigation" debacle that led to 22 cautions and a bunch of torn-up race cars because of some poor planning on NASCAR's and Goodyear's part and am left thinking that, maybe, Mr. Pemberton, most of the time isn't good enough if you want to consider yourself one of the big boys.
If you are one of my long-time readers -- and I would like to thank both of you -- you know how I think this problem should be solved. NASCAR needs another tire war. Competition is a good thing.
If Goodyear had someone breathing down their necks for NASCAR dollars, then you wouldn't see them showing up to tracks with such unproven commodities.
They would actually have to put some work in making a decent race tire.
And those responsible for the debacle that we saw on Sunday would be sacked.
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