SONOMA, Calif. (AP) — Tony Stewart was running lap times about a second faster than expected at Indianapolis Motor Speedway when a blown tire caused him to wreck this week in a Goodyear test.
Goodyear officials said Stewart’s accident 17 laps into Tuesday’s 20-lap run was the only incident of the two-day test. The three-time NASCAR champion wasn’t injured.
“Our test speeds were extremely fast at Indianapolis,” Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing, said in a statement Friday. “Tony was approaching the end of a very strong 20-lap run, with his lap times as much as a second faster than what has become the norm at Indianapolis at that point of a run.
“It appears that increased, sustained speed over that run generated a significant amount of heat, which eventually caused the right-front to go down.”
Stewart wasn’t upset with Goodyear over the incident, which he said “destroyed the car, so it was a good hit.
“I am not really sure what the cause of it was, but that’s part of tire testing,” Stewart said. “That’s why you go to the test. I’m sure they’ll learn something from it and we’ll go on.”
Joey Logano was one of six drivers at the test and said Stewart easily had the fastest car at Indy. Also at the test were Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman, the defending race winner.
Stewart, an Indiana native, has two Brickyard victories and puts a huge emphasis on the July race.
Following Stewart’s tire failure, Logano said Goodyear made adjustments “to figure out a way to knock some speed out of these race cars.” Teams were given a different left side tire to use and will wait to see what Goodyear decides to bring for the race.
“I know when we left they were going to go back and discuss where they wanted to be, but I think they’re going in the right direction on making sure they have the security in the tire, making sure it’s safe,” Logano said. “It’s definitely a very big challenge when you come to a race track and you go faster and you’re already on edge. You’ve got to come back with something that’s even more durable and that’s hard.”
Indianapolis has been a difficult track for Goodyear, and the tire brought to the 2008 race was not durable enough to make it more than a dozen or so laps. NASCAR was forced to call a caution roughly every 10 laps to force teams to change tires.
“The thing about Indianapolis is the tough conditions the cars and the tires have to endure,” Stucker said. “The surface is very abrasive, the long straightaways and short chutes are fast, cornering is tough with very little banking. Combine that with this new car package, and you’ve got conditions that put a lot of stress on the tires.”