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Goodyear had a rough day at Atlanta, but drivers were more forgiving than last year


Jeff Gordon says 'Don't blame Goodyear.' But racing used to be great at Atlanta all day long, not just in spurts. So what's gone wrong? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   Goodyear's tires, just as last spring here, were a significant issue for drivers in Sunday's Atlanta Kobalt Tools 500, but this time drivers were much more lenient in their comments about the rock-hard rubber they had to race on.
   "I knew it was going to be like this…and don't put all the blame on Goodyear – You can't build a tire for this," runner-up Jeff Gordon said.
   "I would challenge any tire manufacturer to build a tire for this car for this track. It's impossible.
   "I was talking with the Goodyear guys before the race and told them 'I will never complain about tires ever again…because I thought we were slipping and sliding around the last time here, but this time we were really slipping and sliding.
   "Goodyear tested here when the conditions were different, about 40 degrees cooler, which might have covered up some things. But I give them credit for trying. They were trying to do something with construction, based on what the drivers were saying. It just didn't pay off.
   "At least we didn't have any real wear issues, where we were going to blow tires. We just didn't have any grip.
   "But they had grip for one lap, and that was about it.
   "It was kind of like Darlington – except the tires weren't wearing out.
   "It was a strange thing. I really don't understand it.
   "I used to know something about tires, but these chemists are putting stuff in the tires that go to a whole new level, that I can't even comprehend.
   "This tire combination was supposed to have more grip, with a little softer left side.
   "I think they were baffled as well."


Racing tires are stacked up during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 6, 2009 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

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