What a great finish we had in the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday. Jimmie Johnson proved that though he may have not had the season he would have liked, he can still pull off a victory and remind people just how dominant he is at Texas in October. While the win doesn’t really do anything points wise for the No. 48 team, it still must feel pretty good for the team to beat Brad Keselowski, who dominated the event for most of the day.
Keselowski, on the other hand, suffered a devastating loss. After his accident at Martinsville, he needed a rebound weekend and was on his way to just that, leading 312 of the race’s 334 laps. If he had won, it would have been a big win for his Team Penske. It would have had at least one driver in the Chase but now, given Kevin Harvick’s past dominance at Phoenix and Joey Logano’s struggles in the last two weeks, it’s quite possible that both Penske cars will be out the outside looking in come Homestead. That all could have been prevented if the No. 2 team won on Sunday.
Q: What is NASCAR thinking adding a Chase to the Truck Series? The Cup Chase is bad enough! Derrick M. – Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.
A: That’s a question I’ve been wondering myself, Dave. I love the Truck Series and how competitive it is, but let’s look into a little more detail as to what it is NASCAR is looking to do by adding a Chase in the Truck Series. The rumored format is that it will be an eight-driver, seven-race Chase with an elimination of two drivers after each three-race round, with four drivers battling for the championship in the final race at Homestead.
If we used this format in 2015, only three drivers would have made the Chase via a win. Those three drivers would’ve been Tyler Reddick, Matt Crafton and Erik Jones. Those three drivers are currently running for a championship with the current format and have been the class of the field this season. The other five drivers who would have made the ‘Chase’ would have been Johnny Sauter, Daniel Hemric, Cameron Hayley, Timothy Peters and John Wes Townley. All of those drivers would have made it on points and have not come anywhere close to being as good as the top three. Hayley, while having a nice year, would have had just three top-five finishes coming into the Chase. Yet he would have been just nine points back of Crafton who had three wins and eight top-five finishes, a far better result than Hayley.
Using that format, the six drivers advancing to the second round of the Chase if it were in effect in 2015 would be Crafton, Reddick, Jones, Sauter, Peters (Talladega win) and Townley (Vegas win), eliminating both Hayley and Hemric.
Obviously we don’t know who would make it into the Chase if we used the format in 2015, but Crafton would advance due to his win at Martinsville and Jones would advance due to his win at Texas. Both of those wins were huge this season for each driver. A Chase wouldn’t have changed that. The Truck Series points battle is the best of the season and has been something to watch all year long.
Plus, there have been seven drivers in 2015 who are not eligible for points in the Camping World Truck Series who won a race: Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Cole Custer, Kasey Kahne, Christopher Bell, Ryan Blaney and Austin Dillon. But yet the format is supposed to focus on winning? The only way it makes sense is to limit the Cup drivers participating in other series, which I don’t see happening anytime soon.
Q: Hi, the tires this weekend at Texas were a disaster. I feel like tires are always an issue. Is it time to consider other tire suppliers for NASCAR? Matt H. – Seattle, Wash.
A: Matt, your complaints about the tires were certainly warranted for this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. We had a ton of issues on Sunday for a bunch of different reasons. Some teams I believe had setups that affected the tires but there were still other issues. I don’t like the excuse of not having rubber down on the track either, because when they do tire tests, there is no rubber on the track then, and the teams don’t seem to have the same problem. We also had a 300-mile Xfinity race with the same tire and it still wasn’t ‘rubbered in’ yet. There was a problem on Sunday but we don’t really see too many issues with tires wearing very often.
However, to answer your question, no we do not need another tire supplier for NASCAR. Goodyear has been working with NASCAR since the beginning and it has a lot of notes and tests it’s gone through to make the tire as best as possible. With all the information available to them, they have an upper hand on every other company that can possibly come aboard and provide the tires. Those companies would have to start from scratch and that would mean major issues as far as tires were concerned.
The last time we had a tire provider that was a competitor against Goodyear was in the late 1980s and mid-1990s when Hoosier competed in the sport. Back then, both companies got aggressive with their compounds to try and outdo one another and it created a dangerous atmosphere for the drivers. We don’t want to see that again.
Generally the tires are not an issue. I think the biggest and most common problem with the tires are that they are too hard and that’s not entirely Goodyear’s fault. I think since the ‘tire disaster’ at Indianapolis Motor Speedway back in 2008, both NASCAR and Goodyear have erred on the side of caution and made tires harder than ever before. That means a lot of the times we see tires not falling off and that doesn’t help with passing.
However, rumor has it that Goodyear will work with NASCAR to provide a softer tire for the 2016 season, and that is a step in the right direction.
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