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DATE News (chronologically)
03/08/09
nassprint
Drivers concerned about the tires at Atlanta
While none of the drivers for Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500 seem particularly satisfied with the tire they’ll be racing, none of them seem eager to point the finger at Goodyear, either. And some of them are really looking for the challenge. "We have our hands full,” Gordon said Friday. “It’s gonna be a white-knuckle survival kind of race. I’m actually kind of excited about it.” That’s probably because Gordon remembers how much fun it was to race last weekend at Las Vegas, where slipping and sliding through the corners was commonplace. Polesitter Mark Martin said the track layout at Atlanta will only exaggerate that feeling. “This thing is so big and so sweeping that when you’re sliding for life from turn 4 to turn 1, you’re sliding for life for a long time,” Martin said. Three-time Atlanta winner Carl Edwards was practical about situation, noting that all 43 drivers were facing the same challenge. “It doesn’t matter to me what the tires were like as long as we all have the same tires,” said Edwards, who was second fastest in the final practice session. “It’s easy to have a positive attitude when you’re fast. We got the car driving pretty well, but it’s still a pretty slippery race track. It’s gonna be pretty fun and a good race.”

Tony Stewart was extremely outspoken last March at Atlanta Motor Speedway in his criticism of the tire Goodyear brought to the race. Three tire tests (and one race) later, all reports are that this weekend's tire will wear much better and should provide more grip. But not everyone is convinced. "They did these tire tests here in (January) when the track temp was 50 degrees; it's 90 out here today," Gordon said. "There's not much grip at all. It's not wearing crazy or anything, but we've only been making one lap at a time. Thank goodness, that's about all I can handle." Gordon wasn't pointing fingers; in fact, he praised Goodyear for doing its best in what he considers a no-win situation. "I believe this track, and this car, especially with these temperatures, could possibly be the most difficult track in the world to build a tire for; it's almost beyond what they can do," Gordon said. "We have our hands full; it's gonna be a white-knuckle survival kind of race. I'm actually kind of excited about it." Gordon said the track's speed and abrasiveness wears so excessively on the tires that it's hard for the manufacturer to balance wear with grip. Even Stewart was in agreement that this year's tire was a much better - albeit not perfect - compound. "We don't have a ton of grip," Stewart said. "In race trim I think it'll be better, but we don't have quite as much grip as we've had in past." AMS Pit Notes

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