‘Do something and do it now,’ says Joey Logano to NASCAR over short track product

The two-time champion says the short track races are suffering

NASCAR: Cup Practice & Qualifying
Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

No one knows better than Joey Logano how flawed the racing tires were for the NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.

At the time of the first caution, crew chief Paul Wolfe ordered just a two-tire pit stop to gain their No. 22 Penske team track position. Everyone else took four tires. In a different era, Logano would have struggled to hold the lead and would have quickly fallen to the back and even risked losing a lap.

Instead, he ultimately finished fifth by the next caution, running 185 laps on his left side tires, and was the leader for most of the second stage.

“We had 180-something laps on our left sides and it finally started chunking apart at the end,” Logano said on Tuesday during an appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “The last 20 laps, the left rear started coming apart, but it wasn’t because it wore off. The wear pins were still there. It started delaminating, like the tread started coming off. It didn’t wear down to the cords. The tire was fine outside of it chunking apart. That’s not okay.”

That’s a sign of generally awful racing and it was as Sunday produced yet another lackluster short track race for the highest level of the discipline. NASCAR agrees that it’s a problem that needs addressing.

The only memorable short track race over the past 30 months since the debut of the NextGen car came last month at Bristol Motor Speedway when the tires mysteriously failed to lay down rubber and instead very quickly dropped off.

It forced drivers to have to manage the life of the tires and produced a record number of lead changes. Logano says the Cup Series needs to replicate that somehow for the remaining short track races this season.

And do it now.

“Bristol was good because the tire came apart,” Logano said. “And that was good. Richmond and Martinsville, gosh, we got to swing the bat. We’ve got to do something big to fix it. I hate saying it, but we’re not an aero package away anymore. We’ve tried that. We’ve hit that button a few times.

“We’ve got to do something to make the tires fall off. I get it. Listen, here’s the deal, Goodyear has built a tire that is too good. If you’re looking to buy a tire on the street. That’s the tire you want. You want the tire that is going to last forever. … But that’s not what we want as racers.

“It’s a fine line. Think about it. If you are Goodyear and the storyline is these tires are coming apart or they’re wearing out quickly, well, then you would say ‘I don’t want to put that on my car.’ We have to somehow separate our street wants vs. our race car wants.”

One suggestion he has is to narrow the tire since the NextGen car has considerably wider tires than its predecessor.

“We have to do something,” Logano said. “My suggestion, the thing I think we should do is we need to get a smaller tire on this car and I know we can’t do that with the wheels on it.”

Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin have addressed that question and had two different answers.

So Logano tossed a lot of other suggestions out there too and provided a sense of urgency in the process.

“Groove the tire,” he said. “Try something. In my mind, there ain’t much to lose. If we cannot produce tire wear, I don’t know how we can’t because we used to — for whatever reason that’s harder to do now, I don’t know why that is because we used to do that at Martinsville. All the time.

“It’s pretty clear to me that NASCAR does not want to give us more horsepower. I want that, but it does not seem like that’s going to happen.

“So, do something and do it now. Hurry up. Do it now. Try it. At any point, I think any of us would be willing to go test anywhere and do some crazy stuff and try it. We’ve just got to do something big now.”

Matt Weaver is a Motorsports Insider for Sportsnaut. Follow him on Twitter.

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