Tire issues plagued—and ruined—the 2008 running of the Allstate 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but drivers and Goodyear officials are confident that it will not be an issue in this Sunday's race.
Since last year's race, 30 teams have logged more than 13,000 miles at The Brickyard during seven different tests to ensure the problem is fixed.
"I'm very confident in the tires," said Jeff Gordon, a four-time winner at The Brickyard. "I did the last test there and was very pleased."
Gordon isn't the only one optimistic about Sunday's race. NASCAR's Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton applauded Goodyear's and teams' efforts and felt that everyone worked together good to pay careful attention to detail and unique outside resources.
"The last two tests, Goodyear really honed in on different constructions, different tire compounds and things that would add life to the tire, but also add a lot of grip," Pemberton said. "It's tough to get both and I think they've done a great job in doing just that. It's amazing to see what's been accomplished in the last 10 months or so.
"There will be a lot of good information that comes out of these tests that we will be able to take to other race tracks, such as different compounds and constructions. Things that will help the grip and help make the racing better all the way around."
Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 9 Budweiser Dodge finished seventh in last year's Allstate 400 and has logged extensive laps at the famed track since last year's debacle.
"I think there was a lot to it because it seemed like a pretty tough process," Kahne said. "I must have tested six or seven times there since last year's race. The teams have put a ton of time testing up there and I feel like the tire is as good as anything that I've been on up there."
So good, that Kahne went as far to predict: "It's gonna be an awesome race."
Points leader and two-time winner at The Brickyard Tony Stewart agreed, saying he felt Goodyear has come back with a combination that is not only durable, but also made to provide better racing.
Stewart also made a trip to Goodyear's Akron, Ohio headquarters, where he had an opportunity to watch how a tire was assembled.
"It's a process that makes you shake your head because you just don't realize what goes into making a tire," Stewart said of his visit. "And the good thing is it's not done by a machine, it's done by a physical person that actually puts that tire together. There's a lot of machines that assist in the process, but some of the key components are still done by a Goodyear engineer that sits there and makes sure it's as perfect as it can be."
Last year's race was won by three-time defending Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson. It featured 11 cautions and a race-high 52 caution laps (33 percent of the race was run under caution).
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