A very unique situation after four tires failed initial testing
Back in February, the USAC National Sprint Car Series opened their 2022 season. Three straight nights of racing took place at Bubba Raceway Park.
Emerson Axsom drove to victory lane in two of the races. Justin Grant picked up the other win. As the teams loaded up, tire samples were collected.
USAC collected four samples throughout the opening weekend, all four samples failed the initial test.
On March 23, USAC announced that due to the unprecedented situation of four of four samples failing, that the were exploring a resolution. They began to seek further analysis.
Yesterday, USAC announced that the tire samples were sent to two additional labs. They also sent another sample back to the initial testing lab. The one that failed originally, failed again. Meanwhile, the same samples sent to the other two labs came back with tests that conformed to the brenchmark.
USAC excludes penalty after testing tire samples at three labs
USAC released the following update:
“Officials of the United States Auto Club released information on Thursday, March 31, relating to extensive tire analysis following the testing of tire samples following a USAC National Sprint Car event in Ocala, Florida in February.”
“Routine post-race tire samples were taken by USAC officials, following all protocols in securing samples and submitting for lab analysis. The initial testing resulted in all four samples, from four unique race teams, being returned as “not meeting the benchmark,” which is a measurement versus the original manufacturing date code of the tire samples taken.”
“Additionally, those traits found to have not met the manufacturer benchmark were not those typically found in tires which have proven to be altered from the manufacturer specification for the purpose of competitive advantage.”
“The analysis of the original results not meeting the benchmark, as well as having an atypical pattern of all samples failing the benchmark in an identical manner, resulted in USAC requesting extensive additional testing and analysis being completed to verify initial testing results.”
Tests at additional labs
“Tire samples which failed the original test, along with the original benchmark samples, were sent to three prominent testing labs, including the original testing lab, for further analysis. While the known failed sample again failed at the original testing lab, this same tire sample was tested during the same time window at two additional labs and both labs deemed the samples as not altered from the factory specifications.”
“After receiving guidance from the two alternative testing labs that these samples met benchmarks, specific instruction was given to both labs to retest in an attempt to identify a specific chemical trait that was prominent in both the initial failed test and retest by the original lab. With the specific chemical trait as their guide, both alternative labs reported they could not find this chemical trait that prompted the original failed test.”
Beyond testing labs, USAC also sent the tire to one of the tire manufactures.
“Additionally, based on the professional opinions of the two additional testing facilities, the tire samples presented were not deemed to be chemically-altered from the manufacturer benchmark. A third-party executive professional compounder from one of the world’s largest tire manufacturers reviewed all results and concurred with the end analysis.”
USAC excludes tire penalty
“USAC takes any alteration of specified tires as an attempt to gain an unfair advantage and a serious rule violation. Penalties associated with treating tires to gain an advantage are severe, including a first offense of a six-race suspension and a $2500 fine in addition to lost purse money and points.”
“Based on the unprecedented four initial failed tests, USAC spent considerable time and resources to assure a fair review and due process was completed to protect the integrity of the series, competition officials and teams competing for the Sprint Car National Championship.”
“Results from all completed National Sprint Car events are upheld, and all parties remain in good standing going forward to this Saturday’s event at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway, where stringent ongoing testing will continue to ensure fair competition.”
“In the event of a similar test result with the same abnormal chemicals detected, the same measures will be followed to confirm those results are accurate.”
“To assure full transparency of the process that USAC underwent to complete the entire analysis, a team owner meeting will be held on Monday, April 4, at 3:00pm Eastern at the USAC office in Speedway, Indiana. Licensed USAC National Sprint Car series team owners are invited.”
Keith Kunz pulls cars for USAC Sprints
Shortly after USAC’s announcement, Keith Kunz commented:
“After waiting for a decision on this we at KKM have decided that we will not compete in the USAC sprint car series going forward,” the team owner stated via twitter.
He further clarified, “KKM will still be competing in the USAC Midget Series, just no Sprint Car.”