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Texas Race Was Much Closer With New Package, But Tires Left Drivers Frustrated

A crew member works on tires after a pit stop. Photo Credit: Caleb Pifer (@CSPiferPhotos) /

FORT WORTH, Texas — Denny Hamlin had two pit road penalties, missed pit road another time and also ran out of gas in Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Yet, there Hamlin was in victory lane at the end of the day.

Hamlin, 38, was able to work his way into contention to not only win Stage 2, but ultimately win the overall race as well due to a super hard Goodyear tire that did not fall off during the race.

Hamlin and his crew chief Chris Gabehart opted twice in the event to take no tires for track position and it paid off completely both times. Simply said: Tires did not matter. Not one bit on Sunday.

Kevin Harvick, who had a horrendous day but still rebounded for a top-10 finish voiced his opinion on the tires and lack of falloff on the day.

“I don’t build tires,” Harvick said. “Tires suck every week.”

Harvick may have been the most vocal critic of the tires following the race, but he was by far the only driver shaking his head about tires.

“Not surprised at all,” said Kyle Busch. “Pace didn’t fall off one bit. We ran 28.80’s to 29-flats the entire run.”

Overall, this race was closer than in any other race in Texas’ recent history due to NASCAR’s new engine and aerodynamic rules package. The temperature coupled with the track’s use of PJ1 in the turns to aid traction worked wonders to keep drivers within a second of the lead for the majority of the race. However, the tires didn’t allow anyone to have a chance to do much with being closer to the competition as it wasn’t conducive to comers and goers.

Will the tires change to a different compound going forward? Many hope so. But will Goodyear’s bottom line pair up with what the driver’s want? We will have to wait and see.

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