The tyres Goodyear has supplied for Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway were supposed to have more grip than they did last year, according to the spec sheet provided by NASCAR's exclusive tyre maker.

You could have fooled Jeff Gordon, who slipped and slid through a harrowing practice session at the 1.54-mile racetrack - but Gordon doesn't fault Goodyear.

According to the four-time Sprint Cup champion, Goodyear faces an almost impossible challenge at Atlanta.

"I believe that this track and this car - especially with the temperatures we had today - is possibly the most difficult track in the world to build a tyre for," he said Friday afternoon, when track temperatures exceeded 90 degrees before cooling for qualifying. "So I certainly credit Goodyear for their efforts, but it's almost beyond what they can do - or any tyre manufacturer.

"I think this is such a tough place, especially with this car. We all knew going into this car it was going to be tough on tyres, and we have our hands full. It is really going to be a white-knuckle, hold-on-tight survival-type of race. I'm actually kind of excited about that. I think that is going to make things really interesting this weekend."

Gordon, the series points leader, was eighth fastest in Saturday's final practice. Carl Edwards topped the speed chart at 179.522 mph.

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News



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