Photo: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images via NASCAR

Tire Issues Run Rampant in NASCAR Xfinity Series Race at Iowa

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

NEWTON, Iowa – For the second day in a row, tires were the talk of the town at Iowa Speedway.

After the NASCAR Cup Series had its issues with tire failures in practice on Friday, it was the Xfinity Series turn during Saturday’s HyVee Perks 250.

Throughout the day, drivers and teams were riding the ragged edge wondering if they were going to be the next to feel the wrath of the tire gods. When all was said and done, more than an handful of drivers had the unfortunate luck of feeling their Goodyears let go mid-corner and just be along for the ride until making impact with the SAFER barrier.

The first to run into problems was A.J. Allmendinger, just 35 laps into the 250-lap event.

Heading through Turn 4, the right front let go on Allmendinger’s No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet, sending him into the outside wall. His car would skid back down the track and come to rest in the tri-oval grass before he climbed from his car to the attention of the safety crew.

“The Cirkul Chevy, it started building a little tight, but it wasn’t out of the realm of being super tight. Actually when I ran the bottom, I was tighter even though there’s more rubber down there. So, I thought running the top was kind of helping the tires. We had some speed up there. I had found a good line and we were starting to gain on that next group of cars,” Allmendinger explained of the chain of events leading up to the failure.

“At the end of the day, disappointing, but I can’t thank all of the men and women at Kaulig Racing enough. The 16 group, we’re having a tough time. It’d be easy to quit and just kind of give up on the year, but we’ve got plenty of racing left and some good tracks coming up. We’ll fight, regroup, and be ready again next week.”

Jeb Burton was the next to have an issue with his tires at the end of Stage 1, but he was able to stay in the race to finish 24th.

Jesse Love was not as fortunate, ending Stage 2 in the outside wall in Turn 4. Love was running just outside the top-10, but fading as he was clearly battling some kind of issue, before it all came to an end on Lap 151.

“I’m alright,” Love said after being checked and released from the Infield Care Center. “I told myself when I got out if I wanted to do this for a living, I’ve got to be tough to take some bigger hits. I’ve never seen it on the TV, but it was a pretty big one. I’ve wrecked midgets and sprint cars many of times and they kind of toughen you up for days like this.

“I knew they were chunked, but we were chunking them all day and it was fine. I tried to fill that hole on the restart with me and the 00 [Custer] and tried to get close to the lead. I think that might have maybe punctured a little hole in it, because it started getting really tight and it just kept getting tighter and tighter.

“I thought I had a tire going down or close to it and once it got really bad, it just blew on me. I had an inkling that it was coming, but at the same time, we know tires are chunking, so we don’t want to come down pit road and have no issue.”

Next on the chopping block was Justin Allgaier, who was hoping to put on a show in front of friends and family, but saw his day cut short on Lap 203. Once again, it was a right front failure that led Allgaier to his end in the Turn 4 wall.

Prior to his incident, Allgaier had been running at the tail end of the Top 10, having led 14 laps on the day early in the second stage.

“The unfortunate part is we had freed our car up and gotten too free and we were trying to get back to where it was manageable there. I just hate it for all the guys on this 7 team. Everybody at Precision Build, Brandt Professional Agriculture.

“You know, this is very unique. It’s definitely not the old Iowa. There’s a lot of things that are different and I hate it. We thought we were doing the right things and unfortunately, it just didn’t work out in our favor.

“We’re going to regroup. We’re going to look at all the notes. Obviously Sam [Mayer] led a lot there. I didn’t feel like we were in too bad of shape, but once that happens, you’re just a passenger along for the ride. Tried to save it all the way to the wall and it just wasn’t happening. We’ll regroup and go on to next week and hopefully have a better race.”

Last, but not least was Austin Hill, who faced a bit of a different issue. Battling tire wear issues throughout the day, Hill and his No. 21 Richard Childress Racing crew elected to put on a set of scuffed tires for the final charge to the finish, but the gamble ultimately did not pay off.

With just 33 laps remaining in the race, Hill’s left rear gave way as he ran second and up into the Turn 1 wall he went. Hill noted afterwards he had felt it going down the lap prior, but wasn’t quick enough to take the turn onto pit road before it blew in Turn 1.

“I’m not sure exactly what happened. We were having issues all day today with some blister on our tires. We had a lot of left side tire wear. We thought we had it fixed. We came in the stop prior, that was my best run of the race. We drove all the way up to sixth and I thought I had a car that was in contention to win….

“We definitely turned it around and then I don’t know what happened there. It looked like we lost the left front and a lot of people were losing right fronts today. It felt weird half a lap before that and I came over the radio and I said something doesn’t feel right.

“I lost a lot of ground on the 20 [Nemechek]. I didn’t even drive in fully into [Turn] 1 when it blew. And then when it’s on the splitter, you just can’t get it slowed down. Unfortunate day for everybody at RCR/ECR, Bennett. Thought we were going to have a good day, it just didn’t work out.”

While these drivers were the unfortunate ones, tires were a concern for most of the field and even those who came through the day unscathed, were cognizant of the game of Russian Roulette they were all playing on the Iowa pavement.

“It was scary a little bit,” second-place finisher Riley Herbst said after the race.

“I had vibrations in the right front every single stage and I thought I was going to blow a few laps after the 7 [Allgaier]. Super unfortunate for him, but super fortunate for the 98 team so we could put tires on it. We weren’t far behind him.”

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.