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Toyota angry after being only manufacturer not invited to Goodyear tire test

DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Toyota officials weren't pleased to be the only manufacturer not invited to the Goodyear tire test on Monday at Darlington Speedway.

Goodyear officials said only two to three manufacturers typically are invited to test on a rotating basis, and that for this test the rotation was Chevrolet [Jeff Gordon] and Ford [Greg Biffle] for the tires and Dodge [Ryan Newman] for data acquisition.

They stood by this plan even though four teams have attended several previous tests and despite a request by Toyota to attend.

"It's not going to put us at an advantage by any means," said Andy Graves, an official for Toyota Racing Development.

Not being at Darlington became even more of an issue after Sunday's race at Atlanta Motor Speedway where Toyota driver Tony Stewart blasted NASCAR's official tire distributor after finishing second to Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch.

"If I were Goodyear I'd be very embarrassed about the tire they brought this weekend," Stewart said. "It was ridiculous. If they can't do better than that, pull out of the sport. I guarantee you that Hoosier or Firestone could to a better job than that."

Stewart claimed the tire Goodyear brought to the 1.54-mile track was so hard that it ruined the race for the competitors and the fans. Others echoed his sentiment, but nobody was more outspoken.

There were no such complaints on Monday. Graves simply wanted Toyota to have a presence.

He talked to Sprint Cup series director John Darby about Toyota being left out as late as Friday. He said Darby assured him that Newman would be sent home as soon as the data had been collected and not allowed to participate in all of the two-day test.

Graves argued as long as three teams are at a test the fourth shouldn't be omitted.

"It feels like it puts us at a little disadvantage," he said. "I know NASCAR and Goodyear are trying to work to make this more fair in the future."

Goodyear ran into a similar situation a year ago at Darlington when Juan Pablo Montoya took several laps for Chip Ganassi Racing even though teammate Reed Sorenson was the scheduled driver.

After what Biffle called "kicking and screaming" by Roush Fenway Racing owner Jack Roush, Roush was allowed to test a Ford on the second day.

"After that there was a policy of having all four manufacturers at every single test," Graves said. "That has continued until a test or two ago."

Invitations for Monday's tests went out months ago. Goodyear spokesman Mike Siberini, asked why Toyota was not invited, reiterated that this was part of the normal rotation.

He said it had nothing to do with Stewart's comments in Atlanta.

"We needed three teams to do a test," he said. "These were the three teams that were invited."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.