Let's talk tires. On December 1, Goodyear and NASCAR announced that they reached a multi-year agreement to renew the Akron, Ohio-based company's position as the exclusive tire provider of NASCAR. While Goodyear has been part of NASCAR since the mid-'50s, its title as the "official tire of NASCAR" dates back to only 1997. The new deal allows the company to keep this designation, and also re-ups its title sponsor deal for the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway.
"Goodyear has been a trusted partner to the NASCAR industry since 1954, playing a critical role in our shared pursuit to deliver the best racing in the world," NASCAR president Steve Phelps wrote in an official statement. "For more than 25 years, Goodyear Eagle tires have been the only component that connects the stock car to the racetrack. Our continued partnership will allow us to push boundaries and innovate our racing product for generations to come."
Now, despite the solid partnership between NASCAR and Goodyear over the years, not every driver has always been a fan of the manufacturer's product. Tony Stewart's rant against Goodyear in 2008 is probably the most famous example of this, but he wasn't the only racer to have issues with Goodyear. In 2016, seasoned vet Kevin Harvick had a major bone to pick with Goodyear.
After putting up a stellar regular-season performance that included seven wins and an additional 12 top-five finishes, Harvick came into the first NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with high hopes. However, a blown tire on lap 147 forced the Stewart-Haas Racing driver to drop out early. Following the disappointing finish, Harvick decided to place the blame on Goodyear and their "piece of crap" tires.
"Well, there was something wrong from the time we put the tires on," Harvick said during his post-race interview with NBC. "It was like Russian roulette every time you put these piece of crap tires on and try to drive around the race track. One time it is tight, one time it is loose, one time they are blistered. We had a great car and then you put a set of tires on it and you can't hardly make it through the field. I just hate it for everyone on our Mobil 1 Ford."
In response to Harvick's, Goodyear's General Manager of Racing Stu Grant came to the tire company's defense.
"Our performance has been pretty darn consistent, but the conditions are extremely difficult, aren't they?" Grant said. "The heat in the race track makes it very slippery and it makes it very important to get the car set up right. If you're off a little bit off, the heat and the slippery race track will exaggerate (handling issues)."
In any case, Harvick ended up bouncing back just fine from his tough outing at Vegas. He eventually made it to the Championship 4 and barely lost the title to Joey Logano. I'm not trying to shill for Goodyear here, but seems like Harvick ended the season pretty strong on "piece of crap tires."
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