Brickyard 400 turns into "TIRED" affair

A lack of rubber on the racing surface forced NASCAR to call competition cautions roughly every 12 laps as the tire wear created a much different Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. Carl Edwards ended up second to lead all Ford drivers while Jamie McMurray (sixth) and Greg Biffle (eighth) all posted top-10 finishes.

MATT KENSETH – No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion (Finished 38th) – DID YOU HAVE IDEA ABOUT THE AMOUNT OF DAMAGE? “Well, yeah. I could see it in the mirror that part of the quarterpanel was blown off. It’s a really, really, really disappointing situation . This one of the two biggest races of the year, and to never have this tire here before and not come and do an open test and to work on these things and work on the tires, it’s pretty darn disappointing. We had a great car today. I feel bad for the fans; we’re running three-quarters speed because we’re worried of the tires blowing out, and they got blown out every eight laps. So, pretty disappointed.” DID IT GIVE MUCH NOTICE? “You get about six corners’ worth of warning, about a lap and a half. It’ll just get loose if it’s the right rear. That’s when it started shaking about three seconds before it blew out”

DAVID RAGAN – No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion (Finished 14th) – “That was the weirdest race I’ve ever been in.  To conserve tires and think about stopping that often and it was just kind of a different strategy than we’ve ever been a part of and we learned from it.  I think we had a good car.  We had a top 10 car, but everybody just played strategy all day long.  I think the best car won and I think we were better than some of the guys in the top 10, but they just had the track position there at the end.  Without that many laps to go it was tough to pass and everybody was afraid to overdrive their car for a long period of time.  It was an interesting race, but we definitely had a little better car than where we finished.”  THIS WASN’T THE RACE YOUR OR THE FANS WANTED, SO WHAT CAN BE DONE?  “Yeah, and I’m certainly no expert at tire combinations and the tire codes and different things, but they’ve just got to do a little better job.  If we’re having parts break every 10 laps and motors blow up every 10 laps, we wouldn’t have our job that long, so it seems like those guys have to do a little better job.  It’s kind of sad to be here at Indy and have to race like that, but it is what it is and we all have the same stuff to work with.”

GREG BIFFLE – No. 16 Dish Network Ford Fusion (Finished 8th) – “I thought it was a good day for us.  I got way too loose in the middle of the deal and I lost all my track position before finally getting it back at the end.”  WHAT CAN YOU SAY ABOUT THE RACING TODAY?  “That wasn’t good.”

JAMIE MCMURRAY – No. 26 Crown Royal Ford Fusion (Finished 6th) – “It’s just frustrating.   They said the track was getting better in happy hour, but we didn’t see that and it never really did take rubber.  I got really mad in the middle because they were letting us run until the tires were blowing up and I’m like, ‘You can’t put us in that situation.’  You’ve got to throw the caution before we blow a tire because if someone gets hurt, we could have prevented that.  Thankfully, they let us run about 12 laps and they’d throw the caution.  Just about everytime the caution would come out, the lap before I’d be like, ‘I’m done.  Here it is.’  That’s an odd way to race.”  WAS IT A RACE FOR THE FANS TODAY?  “I don’t know.  I didn’t watch it, I drove it, so it would be hard for me to say.  Certainly that wasn’t the right tire.  They’ve been critical of Goodyear at Atlanta, but at least at Atlanta we could drive our cars and run more than 10 laps.  This, I’m just shocked that they did a tire test and this is what they ended up with.”  SHOULD THIS BE A MANDATED TEST?  “I think that’s a good idea because if we can get 40 cars here or 50 cars here, they could lay enough rubber down and know if you’re gonna have this problem again.”

JACK ROUSH, Car Owner – Roush Fenway Racing – “We only missed by an inch.  This is a game of inches, but Goodyear didn’t give us a chance to test here.  They brought other manufacturers here and they didn’t give us a chance to test.  We didn’t have a drive file that was current.  We didn’t know what to expect from the track, so we were one change behind all the time during practice.  Whether that would have made a difference in the result or not I’m not sure, but we would have had better data to work from if we would have had the same drive file off the same current track information that everybody else had.”  HOW CAN THIS BE PREVENTED FROM HAPPENING AGAIN?  “You need to go talk to Chad Knaus.  He said it wasn’t gonna be a problem with this tire and he and Goodyear have got something figured out that the rest of us don’t, so I don’t have anything to say about that.”

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion (Finished 2nd) – “That’s a long day. Everyone’s trying to do their best. I, personally, want to say to the fans that everybody was doing their best to make that a race. At least we got to run there at the end. I knew it was going to be Jimmie and I, and on the restart, the 11, Denny Hamlin, was hanging back, and I thought he was pretty fast, I thought I was faster than Jimmie, so I really didn’t focus on ruining Jimmie’s restart, getting up there under him in turn one, I thought I would be able to get him – I was more worried about the 11. Then it strung out. Jimmie just was fast; we were about the same. Man, it would be cool to win this one. Second place is not what we came here for. Just thanks to Aflac and everybody, and the fans for putting up with this. It’ll get better.” ON THE END OF THE RACE. “Well, Jimmie and I were about the same speed. I just couldn’t do anything with him. He did a really good job. We didn’t come here to run second you know, so that’s a little frustrating, but considering everything that happened today, I thought my guys today did a great job, a really great job. We’re going to win this eventually. We get one shot a year, and we get better every time so it’ll be fun to come back.” HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE FACT THAT YOU’RE TEAM IS RUNNING WELL AT THIS POINT IN THE SEASON? “Our team’s good. I don’t think there’s a car that is faster on the race track all season than our 99 team. We’ve had a little bit of bad luck. Last week was a little frustrating, this week we didn’t have any bad luck, just that’s where we’re at – second. I just hope that the fams understand that Goodyear and all of us, everybody, did the best we could, and that was just a worst-case scenario there, and that’ll get better. I’m sure we won’t ever have a race like that again here.” ON WORKING HARD THROUGHOUT THE DAY. “Yeah, that was hard work. It was just really hard to get in a rhythm and race. No one ran 100 percent until the last run. I thought we were better than Jimmie, but he did a good job of holding back just a little more than I thought he was. I thought we had him. And then he had that pit stall – I knew we both were going to take two tires, I knew that it was going to be him and I, and our crew did a great job, he just had that pit stall at the end of pit road.” THAT’S YOUR SECOND SECOND-PLACE FINISH IN TWO RACES. “I truly believe we have the fastest car on the race track, and we just have to keep doing it and it all work out. It’s good to be frustrated by second, that’s for sure.”

MARCOS AMBROSE – No. 47 Little Debbie Ford Fusion (Finished 22nd) – “It was just awesome.  It’s just a real shame about the tire thing.  I think NASCAR did a great job of keeping us safe out there.  I think it was the best of a bad situation the way they chose to run that race.  We raced good.  You’ve got to race hard and you’ve got to look after your tires, too.  It was just a battle out there.  We fought hard and we learned a lot and I got a lot of experience.  I’ve run the Brickyard and I feel like we’ve really achieved something this weekend.”

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion – POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE – “Obviously the tire debacle there, I think NASCAR and everyone did the best they could once the race started, but, obviously that was a mistake there with the tire but I think everyone did a pretty good job.  We all make mistakes, so we just did the best we could with it.  At the end, I actually believed that we were gonna be able to drive by Jimmie.  All day I’d been racing around him and I thought I was a little better than him, but he was holding back a little more than I thought he was, so on the restart Denny Hamlin was hanging back a little bit and I had no clue how good Denny was, so I thought, ‘Of all things, I’m not gonna let Denny get by me here,’ so I hung back a little bit and got a run from Denny thinking that I had seven laps and I could work Jimmie over, but I could never get to him.  Our cars were almost identical in speed, so that’s where we ended up is second.  But I truly believed we were gonna be able to win that race.  I thought it was ours, but that’s how it goes.” 

FANS ARE ANGRY.  WHO DO YOU HOLD RESPONSIBLE?  “Obviously it’s the folks that make the tires.  That’s just the way it is, but as long as they have Aflac when they get fired or something they’ll be alright, I guess.  I don’t know.  Look, I heard people go on tirades.  Look, everybody is doing their job.  Everyone is trying their hardest.  Every once in a while I run into the wall or act like I’m gonna punch somebody after the race or something like that.  Everybody makes mistakes.  They just assumed, the way I understand it, they assumed that tire and the rubber was gonna fill in like it has before and everything would be fine.  And what happened was it turned into a dust instead of laying into the race track and it just never filled in the gaps, so, yes, it’s their fault but we’re all doing the best we can.  I just hope the fans understand this, that nobody wants to see this happen – Goodyear the least, I’m sure.  So that’s what it is.” 

HOW WAS THE RACING UNDER GREEN?   “The car was good.  The car ran really well here.  It’s cool that they took the rumble strips out, those bumps down there.  That was good.  The pay is the same.  The trophy looks the same.  I really don’t give a damn if they race 10 laps at a time.  It’s frustrating but it’s the same for everyone.  I’m sure we won’t have that race again.  I’m sure that will not happen again.  That’s the only thing I can say.  I guarantee there will be some sort of better testing that comes from this.  Hopefully, it’s testing without a race team.  Hopefully, it’s a NASCAR-owned race car and driver and things like that and they can come out and test a little more, but that’s it.  The racing was fine.  I thought Jimmie and I would have been able to race there at the end.  If we could have raced for 30 laps like that,  it would have been pretty cool.” 

IS THIS A POSITIVE WEEKEND OR FRUSTRATING?  “I learned a long time ago not to let all your emotions hinge on the result, it has to be the performance.  I felt like last night we performed.  I don’t think I could have done much better last night, so I was happy with that even though was obviously frustrated with the result.  And then today we did the very best we could.  My pit crew – Jimmie had the first pit stall.  We came in and we took two tires and we beat a lot of folks out.  They did a great job, so I felt like we performed the best we could.  If Jimmie hadn’t had the pole and he was pitted down on the other end, we might be him and it might have been a different race, but they earned it and we just need to do a better job qualifying.” 

WAS THERE EVER A TIME WHEN THE COMPETITION CAUTION HURT YOU AND YOU WANTED TO STAY OUT AND RACE?  “No.  I could burn the tires off the car.  At the end of the race I ran as hard as I could for seven laps.  I don’t know if it would have done that for nine laps.  I know early on I could run about 80 percent and it would make it 11 laps, but that was it – 85 percent and I’d had the right rear tire come apart.  They had to time them so we didn’t run out of tires.  It would have been great if they would have been eight-lap runs.  Boy, you would have seen some hardcore racing then, but the 11-lap runs made everybody throttle back a little bit.  But it was kind of neat.  I learned some things out there.  Bob told me about the tires each time and I’d kind of learn how to feel and change around and wear the tires differently, which made me think a lot harder than normal.  Usually, you just drive the hell out of it and that’s it.” 

AT WHAT POINT DID YOU REALIZE THE TIRES WOULDN’T GET ANY BETTER TODAY?  “I knew when there wasn’t any rubber laying down on the track – I couldn’t see any rubber on the track – I thought we were in trouble there.  I know everybody was hoping there that it would get better by lap 30 or 40, but I knew we were in trouble then.” 

SO IT WAS THAT EARLY?  “Oh yeah.” 

DID YOU HAVE TO DRIVE SLOWER THAN THE CAR WOULD GO TODAY?  “Yeah.  I mean, I had to go about 80 percent – just ease it around there.  It sure would have been interesting if they didn’t have those cautions.  Like Denny said, that’s a good plan right there.  If they’d have just said, ‘Hey, run as long as you want.’  Oh my gosh, it would have been a crazy race.” 

EARLY IN THE RACE THEY COULDN’T GET TO IT BECAUSE TIRES WERE GOING.  “I was just trying not to be that guy.” 

AT WHAT POINT DID YOU HAVE TO GO FROM TIRE CONSERVATION TO PUTTING THE FOOT ON THE GAS?  “I didn’t go hard until the very end.  Bob timed it out real well to where we took two for the last run and I went like hell, but that was the first time.” 

DID MORE CARS BEAT YOU OUT OF THE PITS DURING THE DAY AND COULD YOU HAVE WON IF YOU GOT OUT OF THE PITS FIRST ON THE LAST STOP?  “No, what we were doing there is we were always taking four tires and a lot of people were ratcheting up and taking two tires, so that’s why we lost positions.  Our pit crew was awesome on pit road and that last stop was as good as anyone, but it was just a tactic to always take four just to be safe.  I think if we would have been in front of Jimmie, we would have won, and Denny probably would have won.  We were all kind of about the same speed there.  But he had the first pit stall because of his qualifying, which, if you qualify on the pole, you get that.” 

IN ’05 WE HAD THE F1 FIASCO.  DID YOU EVER THINK IT WAS DANGEROUS TODAY AND YOU SHOULDN’T BE RACING AND WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO THE FANS?  “I know during practice I was making sure my belts were tight and I was eyeing where they had the SAFER barriers because I just didn’t know.  Like Denny said, in the race you could kind of feel the tire going away.  You could tell it was going away, so once the race got going, I felt pretty comfortable – like I’m not gonna get the big surprise and blow the tire and hit the wall, but in practice I definitely was worried about it.  And to the fans, they just have to understand that it’s a dynamic sport and there’s a lot to it, and to bring 43 cars here and race them at 200 miles an hour, Goodyear did their best and they just made a mistake in judgment.  Hopefully, they understand that and realize that nobody wanted this to happen.” 

WHAT NEEDS TO BE LEARNED FROM THIS?  “I don’t make the decision on how to build the tire.  They just have to look at this and learn from it and figure out exactly what went wrong and that’s all you can do.”