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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Blown tires turn Charlotte race into debacle

Associated Press

CONCORD, N.C. – Slumped over and scowling, Tony Stewart made no effort to mask his disgust after finishing a race in which he feared for his safety.

He wasn’t alone.

Kevin Harvick called on NASCAR to halt Saturday night’s race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway after a rash of exploding tires turned the event into a dangerous debacle.

“This is the biggest joke in racing I’ve ever seen,” said Harvick, who crashed hard after blowing tires in both the Nextel Cup race and Friday night’s Busch Series event.

“It’s just terrible. Everybody is just out there, knowing that at any moment the tires are going to pop. It’s pretty disgusting and pretty embarrassing for our sport.”

A smooth, sleek surface at Lowe’s – the result of track president Humpy Wheeler twice using a grinding process on the asphalt as a temporary fix until he could repave it – created high speeds Saturday night that proved too fast for the tires Goodyear provided.

In all, the race was marred by an event-record 15 cautions, including 12 for accidents, and most were the result of blown tires. Five of the 10 Chase for the championship drivers had tire problems, including Stewart, who crashed hard into the wall after he cut a tire while leading the race.

NASCAR took the unusual step of issuing a mid-race mandate on air pressure requirements for the right front tires, then sent its inspectors up and down pit road to make sure teams were obeying the order. Those reluctant to meet the mandate were told they would be docked points.

Goodyear spokesman Phil Holmer said more than half of the blown right front tires were attributed to teams starting with lower-than-recommended air pressure and the company “told and told and told (teams) to keep their air pressures up and for some reason they don’t want to do it.”

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