Cut tires contributed to the high number of crashes the exhibition event is known for. The first came in the opening segment as Ricky @StenhouseJr cut a tire and spun in Turn 2 on Lap 13. He was riding behind the thunderous pack with eventual race winner@DennyHamlin when the incident occurred. The No. 17 Fastenal Ford received minimal damage and bounced back to finish sixth, a career best result in the event for the 28-year old.
Ten laps later, the largest accident of the night unfolded as @BrianLVickers cut a tire down going into Turn 1 while in the middle of the pack. He spun out and slammed the outside wall, collecting six other cars including two of his teammates @KevinHarvickand @KurtBusch. The No. 14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet was destroyed and Vickers ended the night with a disappointing 24th-place finish.
On Lap 72, a cut tire sent Kurt Busch into the wall after he had rebounded from the damage sustained in an earlier incident. Despite the contact, it didn’t bring out the caution as a five-car accident unfolded seconds later on the backstretch.
While the nature of the Sprint Unlimited is often characterized by unpredictable crashes as the drivers return to the race track for the first time in three months, this year’s event highlighted a potential developing issue for Speedweeks.
The tire compound ran on Saturday night will be the same one used in all three series throughout the next week. It is also the same right and left side combination Goodyear has provided for teams at Daytona International Speedway since July 2013.
This compound has had a good standing with Daytona, which makes the issues experienced on Saturday night a surprise. It was evident throughout the race that there was an abundance of debris blowing around the race track. While this was most notably plastic bags with a few ending up across Brad @Keselowski’s nose, there likely could have been other forms of debris on the racing surface.
Tire issues from Vickers and Busch came following previous crashes on the track where they could have run over something while under caution. Also, both drivers made contact with other cars before cutting a tire down which could have led to the failure.
While these are the likely explanations for tire issues on Saturday night, it could be something more. Tire management provides an interesting twist to the competition and has the potential to add another compelling storyline to the upcoming week.
If the problem continues, Goodyear may have to address the overall issue as the week rolls on. No matter what, this will be something to watch throughout Speedweeks. It has the potential to add to the thrilling competition this week is known for and could play a significant role in next Sunday’s Daytona 500. Popular Speed