Goodyear on hot seat again over tire issues

Updated: March 7, 2010, 9:39 PM ET
Associated Press

HAMPTON, Ga. -- Goodyear is facing more questions about the quality of its tires.

At least a dozen drivers were affected by tire problems during Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, stirring up complaints that Goodyear supplied a compound that was good for speed but low on durability at the high-banked track.

"When they come here and test, you expect them to build a tire that we can abuse and that we can race hard with," said Jeff Gordon, one of those affected. "That obviously wasn't the case. There is a good chance we were too aggressive, but until we go back and analyze everything it's hard to say."

Ryan Newman also chimed in.

"Goodyear's got some work to do," he said. "It's a safety situation. We popped one. There are a lot of guys who popped one."

Race winner Kurt Busch didn't have any problems. He was conscious of protecting his tires after Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified for the pole with the fastest speed of the Car of Tomorrow era.

"When you have that happen, that means the tires are really grabbing hold of the racetrack," Busch said. "That means you're going to have speed. And when you have speed on a track that's very abrasive, yeah, you're going to be worried about tires, whether it's blistering of the right front, blistering the right rear. You have to find that right combination."

Goodyear racing chief Stu Grant defended the quality of the tire.

"It's a tire the guys are happy to run on," he said. "They're comfortable and they're fast if the setup is good. The leaders are running great. If you look at (Kasey Kahne) and (Busch), their tires have looked great all day."

Kahne finished fourth.


ADDINGTON'S REVENGE: Steve Addington made it back to Victory Lane with a different Busch.

Fired late last season as Kyle Busch's crew chief, Addington needed only four races to win again with his new boss -- Kurt Busch, Kyle's older brother.

Asked if he felt vindicated, Addington replied, "If I denied that, I would be lying."

Addington was part of 12 wins in less than two seasons working with Kyle Busch, only to get fired after his driver narrowly missed the Chase for the Championship during an up-and-down 2009 season.

The older Busch hired Addington as his crew chief in December.

"It honestly feels good to be with this race team, with Kurt as the driver, and come back and win before the 18 car (Kyle Busch) got a chance to win. That's a personal deal," Addington said. "I'm still great friends with Kyle and everything. But it's a good feeling. It's a relief in a certain way."


MENARD'S BIG DAY: Lost in all the hoopla over Kurt Busch's victory and the feud between Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski was one of the best days of Paul Menard's mediocre career.

The driver of the No. 98 car had the lead for one lap late in the race and held on for a fifth-place finish. The only other time he finished higher was a runner-up showing at Talladega in 2008.

"It felt really good," said Menard, who climbed to ninth in the points. "The car was fast and a top five is a great way to start the year. The guys did their homework in the offseason and improved these cars so much."

Menard has finished no lower than 18th in the first four races.


SPEED DEMON: Elana Meyers is used to going fast.

Still, she was in awe of the speeds at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

"They go so fast," she said. "I have a whole new respect for it."

Meyers, a native of nearby Douglasville, Ga., won a bronze medal as part of the U.S. women's bobsled team at the Vancouver Olympics. She was on hand for the race along with teammate Eric Pac, as well as two members of the gold medal men's team, Steve Holcomb and Steve Mesler.

On Friday, Meyers was taken for a 70 mph spin around the 1.54-mile trioval in a pace car. Even though that's 20 mph slower than she rides down the hill on a bobsled, Meyers was taken aback by the sensation.

"I can't imagine going 200 mph," she said. "I felt like we were on the edge at 70."


SPARK PLUGS: After a rough weekend of qualifying and practice, points leader Kevin Harvick managed a ninth-place finish in the race. He retained his spot atop the standings, 26 points ahead of Matt Kenseth. ... There were 31 lead changes among 13 drivers. Kasey Kahne led the most laps (144).

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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