By Keith Waltz
An 11th-hour decision by Goodyear officials headed off what could have been a disastrous day for NASCAR’s premier series on June 4, 1995, during the Miller Genuine Draft 500 at Dover International Speedway.
Racing on the high-banked, one-mile track’s new concrete surface for the first time, teams began seeing signs of tire issues during practice. Those issues turned into problems during Saturday’s 200-mile preliminary event and the decision was made to truck in different tires for Sunday’s race.
Track officials had used a grinding process to smooth the new concrete surface after Goodyear had completed its tire test earlier in the year.
“The change in the surface made it apparent that the tires stopped wearing out and began generating extremely high temperatures, resulting in blisters,” said Leo Mehl, Goodyear’s general manager of worldwide racing.
The switch was successful and tires were not an issue as Kyle Petty held off a charging Bobby Labonte and Ted Musgrave to post what ended up being the final victory of his career.
“The 18 (Labonte) and the 16 (Musgrave) really wore my butt out at the end,” said Petty, who led 271 of the 500 laps and beat Labonte to the checkered flag by 0.22 seconds. “I was really glad to see the 16 up there at the end because he really took Bobby’s attention off me for a while.”