What was behind the numerous NASCAR tire failures at Texas?

At Texas Motor Speedway, at least half of the 16 cautions in the NASCAR Cup Series race were the result of blown tires.

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Drivers including Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. all crashed out of the lead when they lost right-rear tires.

It became expected after a certain number of laps, defining Sunday's 500-mile race and reshaping the playoff picture for the rest of this round. But why? What was causing these failures and who is to blame?

“I’m not sure that Goodyear is at fault," said Elliott after exiting his burning race car. "Goodyear always takes the black eye, but they’re put in a really tough position by NASCAR to build a tire that can survive these types of racetracks with this car. I wouldn’t blame Goodyear.”

Race winner Tyler Reddick was "extremely worried" he would lose a tire in the closing laps of the event, but luckily, evaded such disaster. He did lose a tire while leading Kansas a couple weeks back, attributing to his elimination from the playoffs.

His crew chief Randall Burnett explained how RCR decided to take a cautious approach to this race.

"We came into this race a little conservative. We got bit at Kansas the other week with one. I think we've had four tires go down this year while leading the race. R.C. (Richard Childress) talked to me about it and said, Make sure you keep some air in the tires today. I tried to do that. A little bit more conservative approach this week. It's a fine line. Everybody knows the speed, pushing the limits of the tires."

He later added: "As the race went on, got even a little more conservative. Like when the sun went down after the rain, the pace picked up quite a bit, a lot more grip in the track. We were able to come up on air pressures then, just try to make sure that we didn't put ourselves in a bad spot.

"Make sure you're not the first one to have a problem, right? We did that. Fortunately it worked out. The strategy worked out really good. The cautions fell for us at the right time. We were able to get back up through there."

Winning team owner Richard Childress echoed Elliott's comments and defended NASCAR's tire supplier. "Goodyear builds a great tire. This was a great tire that Goodyear built for us. Like Randall said, there's a fine line to push that limit. It wasn't the tire as much as it is trying to be as competitive as you can."

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NASCAR's Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller also addressed the tire issues after the race, and appeared to lean towards this being an issue of teams ignoring the recommended guidelines. 

"Obviously, we saw a lot of tire problems and we saw a lot of teams who didn't have tire problems. We're working through that. Goodyear is working through that with the teams and working through what the setups were, what the air pressures were, and trying to get to the bottom of it.

"You know, there was a lot of teams that reported no problems to us post-race and they did admit to being a little bit on the conservative side with air pressures and being closer to the suggested minimums that Goodyear recommended."

Harvick's crew chief Rodney Childers posted a detailed explanation on Twitter, explaining what was happening and his proposed solution to fix it.

 

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