"It was an isolated incident," was the official word from NASCAR representatives after a rash of blown tires marred the 500-mile race at Pocono International Raceway. Yeah, an isolated incident that happened some 22 times during the running of the event.
Ricky Rudd really got the brunt of tire-gate. He blew six tires throughout the course of the event on the No. 21 Woods Brothers Ford.
"I haven't got a clue," said Rudd. "I've been at it a long time and never seen anything like that. I think they came back and said, 'don't hit any curbs.' That was sort of a lame excuse really. We just had a major problem today, I'm not sure. We had some tires that looked perfect when they came off, even after a short run; they looked like they were ready for the junkyard."
Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart were the runner-up contestants for the most blown rubbers, both with three.
"It's hard to understand why," commented Greg Zipadelli, crew chief for Stewart. "We ran over half the race and didn't have a problem and then we had two flats there at the end and the left rear flat. We ran over something. That's just the way it is.
"I don't know why."
When the rubber stopped flying, as it were, 11 drivers suffered tire failures, several more than once. Two-time losers included Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Earnhardt initially got a flat tire on lap 56 and came in and got four fresh tires. The No. 8 Chevy did not even run another ten laps before he got another flat this one catching his wheel well on fire before he could get to pit road.
Earnhardt who is already in the middle of a major slump was not amused.
"I think it's a camber issue," said Earnhardt. "It isn't the tires fault. But the tire is pretty damn fragile if you ask me, if it can't handle that. It looked like a recap coming apart on you.I mean to have so many people have that much trouble.we're not doing anything extremely outside the ball park on the camber on the left front and stuff like that. Our air pressures weren't real low.
"It's tough. It's real frustrating."
Depending on who you asked, and how many tire problems they had - you were sure to get a different answer about the cause of the tire failure. Four- time Cup series champion, Jeff Gordon thought perhaps the race track was to blame.
"Some guys were running on that curve," said Gordon. "Which may have had something to do with it. You'd have to ask the guys who had trouble. I know they dug a ditch over there in that tunnel turn and made that big bump we used to have, into another type of bump. It's pretty rough over there, but I don't know whether that curve would tear up tires."
Whatever the cause, it is certainly an issue to review. NASCAR spokespeople stated that they would have a conversation with Goodyear this week and address the issue.