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“Do something and do it now.” Cup champion implores NASCAR to make major tire changes

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

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

Last weekend's race at Martinsville marked the end of the first part of the short track program, with Bristol, Richmond and Martinsville all raced in the last four weeks. Questions remain about the status of short-track racing as drivers face challenges on such courses.

“Bristol was good because the tire was falling apart,” Logano told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “And that was good. Richmond and Martinsville, my goodness, we gotta swing the bat. We have to do something big to fix this problem. I hate to say it, but we're not an aero package away. We tried that. We pressed that button a few times.

“We have to do something to make the tires fall off. I get it. Listen, here's the deal: Goodyear built a tire that's too good. If you want to buy a tire on the road. This is the tire you want. You want a tire that will last forever. … But that's not what we want as racing drivers.

“It's a fine line. Think about it. If you're Goodyear and the plot is that these tires are falling apart or wearing out quickly, then you would say, 'I don't want to put that on my car.' We have to somehow separate our street desires from our race car desires.”

An unexpected result led to excessive tire wear at Bristol, forcing drivers to manage tires in a way they hadn't had to on a short track for years. NASCAR and Goodyear continue to investigate the cause of this tire wear and ways to reproduce it, albeit on a smaller scale. A tire test is planned for July in Bristol.

In Richmond the race started on rain tires, which wore out and resulted in a side-by-side race. As the track dried, teams put on their regular tires and one-on-one battles became more common.

Last weekend at Martinsville, Logano's left-side tires weren't changed until lap 185. He led 83 of those laps.

“We had about 180 laps on our left side and at the end it finally started to fall apart,” Logano said. “In the last 20 laps the left rear started to fall apart, but it wasn’t because it was fading. The wear pins were still there. It started to delaminate like the tread was coming off. It hasn't worn down to the cords. The tire was fine except for falling apart. That is not OK.”

Logano noted that there has been a time in the past when a late caution sent the leaders to pit road for tires, but Denny Hamlin, who was fourth, was the only driver in the top 10 last Sunday , who pitted before the restart of extra time.

“I'm warming up my tires under caution and my tires are fine, I don't have to pit,” Logano said. “It won’t do me any good. And it didn't. Denny has put on tires from… (fourth). He didn't go anywhere. He actually walked backwards. It's just crazy that it's like this right now.

“We have to do something. I suggest that I think we need a smaller tire for this car and I know we can't do that with the wheels on it.”

So Logano offered alternative suggestions.

“Use the tire,” he said. “Try something. In my opinion, there's not much to lose. If we can't create tire wear, I don't know how we can't, because we used to – for some reason it's harder now, I don't know, Why is that because we used to do that in Martinsville all the time.

“It's pretty clear to me that NASCAR doesn't want to give us more horsepower. I want this, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen.

“So, do something and do it now. Hurry up. Do it now. Try it. I think any of us would be willing at any point to test somewhere, do some crazy stuff and try it out. We just have to do something big now.”

Hamlin suggested on his Actions Malicious Podcast This week, NASCAR was scheduled to take its next-gen car and conduct tire testing with Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the driver.

“Let him go to Richmond and go to Martinsville and test tires,” Hamlin said. “He gets to choose the tire we run. It would be great advertising. This is Dale Jr.'s tire, let's see how it works. I think he would sign up to go out there in two seconds. He's just as angry about the tire as I am. He brings it up as often as I do.

“We are clearly missing the mark. Goodyear misses the mark. We know full well that it's better when a tire falls off, we've seen it – Bristol has given us proof of it. Did it have to go so extreme now? No, but we certainly shouldn't have a car leading the race with 180 laps on the left-hand side tires. That's ridiculous.”

Logano suggested trying something with a different tire until the All-Star race in May so teams could try it out.

“We need to do something quickly,” Logano said.