NASCAR takeaways: Denny Hamlin wins Bristol race plagued by tire issues

Denny Hamlin Triumphs at Tire-Troubled Bristol NASCAR Race

In Bristol, Tennessee, Denny Hamlin clinched victory at the Bristol Motor Speedway race, a contest that demanded exceptional tire management skills from the drivers. This challenge arose due to the risk of flat tires or running out of tires entirely.

Unexpectedly, the track did not rubber up as anticipated, leading to a record-setting 54 lead changes and 16 different drivers taking the lead at various points during the 500 laps on the high-banked, 0.533-mile concrete track.

The high number of lead changes was due to drivers having to strategically decide when to push their cars to full speed. Pushing too hard could mean their tires would not last more than 50 laps.

Denny Hamlin remarked on the significance of driver input in this race, highlighting a departure from the usual full-throttle approach. He emphasized the importance of technique in navigating the race successfully.

Hamlin, who led for a significant 163 laps, managed to outperform his teammate Martin Truex Jr., while another teammate, Ty Gibbs, led for 137 laps before tire issues hindered his progress.

The race underscored the critical role of tire management. Following Hamlin to the finish line were Truex, Brad Keselowski, Alex Bowman, and Kyle Larson, each navigating the tire challenges in their unique ways.

Hamlin found the tire management aspect to suit his style well. However, a pit stop with 53 laps remaining showed his right rear tire was nearly at its end, highlighting the precarious balance drivers had to maintain.

Hamlin’s crew chief, Chris Gabehart, praised Hamlin’s performance, acknowledging the difficulty of the race but affirming that such challenges are part of the sport.

An early spin due to a blown tire allowed Hamlin to gauge how aggressively he could race without overextending his tires. This incident provided valuable insights that helped him adjust his strategy throughout the race.

The race presented an unexpected challenge with tire management, leading NASCAR to provide teams with an additional set of tires, increasing the total to 11 sets for the event.

Drivers had to decide whether to push their tires to the limit, hoping others would encounter issues before they did. Kyle Larson expressed mixed feelings about the strategy involved, suggesting it added an interesting dimension to the race but was not something he’d prefer regularly.

The tires used were the same as those from the previous fall race at Bristol, with similar temperatures. NASCAR opted for resin instead of a formulated traction compound on the lower groove to improve grip, which ultimately did not occur as expected.

Ryan Blaney and Ty Gibbs shared their perspectives on the tire management challenge, with Blaney expressing skepticism about the tire consistency and Gibbs highlighting the difficulty of managing tire wear without compromising race position.

Goodyear, surprised by the tire issues, is looking into the differences from previous races. Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s racing director, mentioned the goal of achieving more tire wear to enhance the racing dynamics but acknowledged the outcomes were more extreme than anticipated.

NASCAR, reflecting on the race, acknowledged the oversight in tire set limitations but appreciated the overall race dynamics. John Probst, NASCAR’s Chief Racing Development Officer, hinted at minor adjustments but expressed satisfaction with the race’s excitement level.

Bob Pockrass, a seasoned motorsports journalist with extensive experience covering NASCAR, provides insights into the world of racing. Follow him on Twitter for more updates.

Stay connected with the NASCAR Cup Series for more thrilling race updates and information.