If there’s one thing that defines this race at Texas Motor Speedway, it’s tires. Drivers are struggling to find grip on the surface, and wear is a serious issue. NASCAR fans who felt as if Kevin Harvick wrecked at Talladega to advance in the Chase rejoiced a bit with the Kenseth fans: Harvick’s tire blew up, too.
Harvick’s left rear tire exploded on lap 36. Harvick called it in to his crew as soon as he realized something was wrong, slowed down to drive along the apron of the track, and brought the car into the pits.
Unlike Logano’s explosion, Harvick’s team feels as if debris from Logano’s earlier incident punctured the tire. According to ESPN’s Bob Pockrass, Harvick reported that the debris from Logano’s wreck was still on the track along with debris from other wrecks today. All the clean-up crews had done before Harvick’s incident was blow the debris to the bottom of the banking.
A sweeper was sent onto the track after Harvick’s incident.
Harvick, like Logano, has been the source of controversy recently. He advanced to this round of the playoff-like Chase for the Sprint Cup after an incident on the last lap of the race at Talladega Superspeedway. Harvick maintains that he was trying to get out of faster traffic’s way on the final restart attempt with a malfunctioning slower car, however, some still insisted that he caused the wreck to advance in the Chase.
While the puncture initially felt like sweet, sweet karma to Harvick’s haters, he was able to bring his car in carefully and restart in 27th position on the lead lap after swapping all four tires. He then made short work of getting back to the front.
Kurt Busch told NBC Sports that he feels as if the Air Titans trying to dry the track when it was wet earlier in the weekend may have opened up the pavement a little more and made it a bit more abrasive.
Let’s talk about those other incidents today, though. Not only did Logano have a tire explosion, but Ryan Blaney losing his right front tire caused him to crash, Dale Earnhardt Jr. shredded a tire, Kyle Larson blew a tire, and Ryan Newman just had a left rear tire go down as well. No one can find grip on the track, as most of the rubber that’s usually on the surface was been washed off by the rain. This race has officially gotten ridiculous.
Harvick eventually made his way back up to the front of the pack, where he is currently running in second behind Brad Keselowski.
UPDATE: Race leader Brad Keselowski has been instructed to watch his tires, further proving that managing tire wear is the key to winning at Texas today:
...and one of Kevin Harvick’s right-side tires went down this time:
The team has blamed debris for the puncture again, as the hole was in the tread.
“That’s ridiculous that we can’t get the track clean,” Harvick’s crew chief Rodney Childers told NASCAR manager of content Zack Albert.
Harvick has also been having trouble with his shifter popping out of gear, so he’s frequently holding it in place and trying to steer with one arm.
Maybe someone does have little voodoo dolls of NASCAR race cars after all. It doesn’t matter, though, because many of the leaders did a stop for fresh tires under the green flag, so Harvick was back in the front. Harvick fell to 21st, but was helped by everyone opting to pit. Harvick was even leading until Keselowski came out on fresh rubber and took the lead back.
UPDATE #2: In the most recent pit stop, Harvick was given a bungee cord to help keep his shifter in gear.
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