Written by Gabriel Tsui, Edited by Simran Kanthi
In the first week into the round of 12, the drivers drove 334 laps around the Texas Motor Speedway. It was a hell of a race, especially in the final stage, with drivers crashing out of the leading position, tyre issues, and a lot of on-and-off-the-track action to talk about.
NASCAR tyre issues persist
Let's start by talking about the tyre problems in Texas. This race was one of the hottest races in NASCAR history with the track temperature hitting near 115 degrees Fahrenheit (~46 degrees Celsius). The drivers were battling high tyre wear in the first half of the race. With the tyres only able to hold on for around 35 laps, the drivers had to tiptoe around the tyre limit choosing between the high line to generate faster speed down the straights and a faster lap time or the low line to preserve the tyres as much as possible.
People have been pointing fingers everywhere about the tyre wear with fan bases blaming Goodyear, the tyre manufacturer, and NASCAR's Senior Vice President of Competition, Scott Miller blaming the teams running way below the recommended tyre pressure. But I think the situation has been best explained by Rodney Childers, the crew chief of Kevin Harvick. Childers believes that the teams are running lower tyre pressure sacrificing tyre lifespan for better downforce from the diffuser, which ultimately leads to better performance than others. Moreover, it has been discussed on the NBC live stream by the commentators that the rough surface of the Texas track, especially in turns 3 and 4, could possibly be part of the cause of the tyres blowing up and drivers spinning. It is yet to be known if Goodyear will bring harder tyres to Talladega or if NASCAR will set limiters around tyre pressure.
One more to “Denny’s List”
Another driver got on Denny Hamlin's list and this time it was William Byron. After Hamlin nearly edged out Byron to the wall on lap 262, Byron was apparently not happy and told his team on the radio, "I'm not going to take his bullsh*t. That's all it is." After Martin Truex Jr. crashed out of the lead on lap 269, Byron decided to take revenge and spun out Hamlin during the caution. They then continued to feud during the caution, hitting bumpers and so on. After the race, Byron said that he intended to show his displeasure but not spin Hamlin out. Hamlin went on and said that he will just add Byron to his list. NASCAR has issued a 25-point deduction on Byron in both driver and team owner standings after the race.
I will keep most of my opinions to myself but wrecking under caution is a huge no-no. Not only is it dangerous but it's also against the rules. Byron also did the same to Logano in Darlington, so why should Byron be upset? As for Hamlin, he pushed Byron to the wall and that's a fact. It was bad racing. To summarize the "inchident" in one question: Who was wrong? Both. We will have to see if Hamlin bites back in Talladega.
Reddick survives tyre issues to win
It was definitely a bittersweet win for Tyler Reddick. After nearly missing out on the Round of 12, he won in Texas in epic fashion. With tyre issues looming around, Reddick decided not to pit and went on the rest of the race with old tyres. Fending off competition such as Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, and co. on the restart, then pulling into an over one-second advantage on second-place Joey Logano and winning the race dominantly. He had a lot of issues during the race such as vibrations in the car, pit road problems, and the high-temperature environment, but he battled through all problems for his third win of the season, the first in an oval.
Ending the article with compulsory jinxes by me
Well, well, well, I have jinxed it again. Don't ask me how, it just happened. I predicted in my previous article that Christopher Bell might have "a clean shot at the win." Then, his right rear tyre blew up twice in a row and he crashed into the wall for the second time. The crash ended the weekend for Bell, only earning three points leaving Texas. I also dubbed Austin Cindric as "the luckiest driver on the grid", who I also jinxed when he blew his right front tyre while dodging a spinning Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Then, I deemed Daniel Suarez's performance in Round One as "not impressive" and he finished 12th in Texas, scoring 38 points, advancing to sixth in the standings. Chase Briscoe also surprised me with his 32 points in 5th place, which sent him to eighth in playoff standings after the Byron penalty, seven points above the cut line. The only thing I had correctly predicted was Bowman's inconsistency, but he crashed due to tyre issues so it wasn't really his fault, and he might bounce back in Talladega and prove everybody wrong.
That was the race debrief for Texas and we are heading to Talladega next race weekend. Knowing it's a superspeedway, it will produce some drama and crashes in the race, so I am looking forward to it. There are problems to be answered in Talladega, and NASCAR has to bring more solutions.