Right front tires seemed to cause a lot of problems for many drivers this weekend at Phoenix. Multiple Sprint Cup Drivers hit the wall hard, including two Stewart-Haas Racing competitors, during the Subway Fresh-Fit 500 on Sunday.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevy, slapped the wall twice during Sunday’s race. Around lap 100, Newman’s Chevy headed straight for the wall in turn 4 when a melted bead sent his car careening up the track. About 40 laps later he hit it again, but this time, it ended his day. He wasn’t the only Stewart-Hass car to be sent to the garage early.
Danica Patrick’s weekend went from bad to worse then she slapped the wall on lap 185. Coming around turn 4, she blew a right front tire which sent her car straight into the safer barrier then back down into traffic. Patrick’s car hit the outside wall hard enough to dislodge the safer-barrier foam and spread it out over the track. After her No. 10 GoDaddy Chevy hit the wall, it ricocheted into traffic, colliding with David Regan. Regan’s car pounded Patrick’s door, littering the track with neon green sheet metal. This is being called the hardest crash of her Stock Car career but thankfully Patrick was released from the infield care center without injury.
“Obviously I blew a right-front,” Patrick said. “No real warning. … It was a little unexpected. I took a hard hit to the right, and then on the left (but) I’m fine.”
Patrick and Newman finished the day 39th and 40th respectively.
The 1-mile track in Arizona is notoriously hard on tires and brakes. In the second to last race of 2012, right before the Homestead-Miami finale, five-time Champion Jimmie Johnson was well on his way to winning his 6th Championship when his No.48 Lowes Chevy hit the wall after blowing a right front tire. Many NASCAR analysts say that that unfortunate crash was the one that lost him the Championship.
All-in-all, about half a dozen drivers blew right front tires on Sunday. So the question is, does NASCAR need to make a change to the right side of the cars and go with a different tire? We have roughly nine months until the cars are back on the track at Phoenix and roughly nine months for NASCAR to figure something out to keep these drivers off the wall.