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‘Do something and do it now.” Cup champ implores NASCAR to make big tire changes

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Two-time Cup champion Joey Logano implored NASCAR on Tuesday to “do something now” with tires to improve short track races after last weekend’s event at Martinsville Speedway.

Logano’s comments on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio came after Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said Tuesday that “I promise you we are working as hard as we can with Goodyear and we need to work harder. That’s the bottom line.”

Last weekend’s race at Martinsville marked the end of the early portion of the short track schedule with Bristol, Richmond and Martinsville all run in the last four weeks. Questions persist about the status of short track racing because of the challenges drivers have passing at those type of tracks.

“Bristol was good because the tire came apart,” Logano told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “And that was good. Richmond and Martinsville, gosh, we got to swing the bat. We’ve got to do something big to fix it. I hate saying it, but we’re not an aero package away anymore. We’ve tried that. We’ve hit that button a few times.

“We’ve got to do something to make the tires fall off. I get it. Listen, here’s the deal, Goodyear has built a tire that is too good. If you’re looking to buy a tire on the street. That’s the tire you want. You want the tire that is going to last forever. … But that’s not what we want as racers.

“It’s a fine line. Think about it. If you are Goodyear and the storyline is these tires are coming apart or they’re wearing out quickly, well, then you would say ‘I don’t want to put that on my car.’ We have to somehow separate our street wants vs. our racecar wants.”

An unexpected result led to excessive tire wear at Bristol that forced drivers to manage tires in ways they hadn’t had to do in years at a short track. NASCAR and Goodyear continue to search for what caused that tire wear and how to replicate it but to a lesser degree. A tire test is scheduled for July at Bristol.

At Richmond, the race started on wet weather tires, which wore, creating side-by-side action. Once the track dried, teams put their regular tires on, single-file racing became more prevalent.

Last weekend at Martinsville, Logano didn’t have his left side tires changed until Lap 185. He led 83 of those laps.

“We had 180-something laps on our left sides and it finally started chunking apart at the end,” Logano said. “The last 20 laps, the left rear started coming apart, but it wasn’t because it wore off. The wear pins were still there. It started delaminating, like the tread started coming off. It didn’t wear down to the cords. The tire was fine outside of it chunking apart. That’s not OK.”

Logano noted that there was a time in the past when a late caution would send the leaders to pit road for tires, but Denny Hamlin, who was fourth, was the only driver in the top 10 last Sunday to pit before the overtime restart.

“I’m warming my tires up under caution and my tires are fine, I don’t need to pit,” Logano said. “It’s not going to do anything for me. And it didn’t. Denny put tires on from … (fourth). He didn’t go nowhere. He actually went backwards. It’s just crazy that that’s what it is right now.

“We have to do something. My suggestion, the thing I think we should do is we need to get a smaller tire on this car and I know we can’t do that with the wheels on it.”

So Logano offered alternate suggestions.

“Groove the tire,” he said. “Try something. In my mind, there ain’t much to lose. If we cannot produce tire wear, I don’t know how we can’t because we used to — for whatever reason that’s harder to do now, I don’t know why that is because we used to do that at Martinsville. All the time.

“It’s pretty clear to me that NASCAR does not want to give us more horsepower. I want that, but it does not seem like that’s going to happen.

“So, do something and do it now. Hurry up. Do it now. Try it. At any point, I think any of us would be willing to go test anywhere and do some crazy stuff and try it. We’ve just got to do something big now.”

Hamlin suggested on his Actions Detrimental podcast this week that NASCAR should take its Next Gen car and do tire tests with Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the driver.

“Get him to go to Richmond, and get him to go to Martinsville and test tires,” Hamlin said. “He gets to pick out the tire we run. It would be great publicity. This is Dale Jr.’s tire, let’s see how it does. I think he would sign up in two seconds to go out there. He’s angry about the tire as much as I am. He brings it up just as much as I do.

“We clearly are missing the mark. Goodyear is missing the mark. We clearly know that having a tire that falls off, we’ve seen it — Bristol gave us the evidence of this is better. Now did it need to go to that extreme? No, but we damn sure shouldn’t have a car leading the race with 180 laps on his left-side tires. That is ridiculous.”

Logano suggested having something in place with a different tire by the All-Star Race in May so teams could try it.

“We’ve got to do something quickly,” Logano said.