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Tire issues, fires make for wild Xfinity Iowa race

Xfinity Series teams raced at Iowa Speedway for the first time since 2019 on Saturday, and they delivered an event that was wildly unpredictable due to tire issues and multiple fires.

The race, which Sam Mayer won in overtime, featured nine cautions for 71 laps. Five of these cautions were for tires unexpectedly blowing. Another caution was a blown tire caused by a tire rub on John Hunter Nemechek's No. 20 Toyota GR Supra.

AJ Allmendinger was the first to experience problems. He blew a right front tire in the first stage and hit the outside wall in Turn 4. This contact resulted in race-ending damage for the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro.

"There was no warning," Allmendinger said after the race, per Kaulig Racing. "The No. 16 Cirkul Chevy was building tight, but I didn't expect to have a right front issue. There was no warning and of course, it blows right in the worst part of the corner. Just disappointing."

Jeb Burton had a tire issue of his own at the end of stage 1. He blew a right front and made contact with the outside wall. Unlike Allmendinger, Burton's tire blew at a point where he just rode the outside wall for a while. He was able to continue in the race before finishing 24th. Though he was multiple laps behind the leaders.

"Disappointing day here in Iowa," Burton said after the race. "Had a top-eight car and blew a right front getting into (Turn) 1, I think, running 12th-13th, something like that, after coming from 30th. So disappointing for our guys."

The tire issues continued with Jesse Love blowing a right front at the end of stage 2, Justin Allgaier blowing a right front in the final stage, Austin Hill blowing a left front in the final stage, and Nemechek blowing a left front to set up overtime.

Not all of these tire issues had the same cause. Some drivers were on scuffed tires, such as Hill, who had more than 20 laps on his tires when he hit the wall. There was also contact between drivers that led to blown tires.

"I'm not sure exactly what happened," Hill said. "We were having issues all day today with some blister on our tires. We had a lot of left-side tire wear. We thought we had it fixed.

"We came in the stop prior, that was my best run of the race. We drove all the way up to sixth and I thought I had a car that was in contention to win.

"...We definitely turned it around and then I don't know what happened there. It looked like we lost the left front and a lot of people were losing right fronts today. It felt weird half a lap before that and I came over the radio and I said something doesn't feel right."

One common theme throughout the day was that several drivers reported vibrations. There were numerous complaints from drivers who blew tires, as well as those who were able to make it to the end of the race.

Blown tires were not the only problems that surfaced Saturday at the .875-mile short track. Fires played a role in the finishing order of the race.

Parker Retzlaff pulled onto pit road on Lap 103 after the No. 31 Jordan Anderson Racing Chevrolet lost power. Once he arrived at his pit stall, his crew went into action. However, they were not able to jack the car up or look for issues as smoke began suddenly pouring from the car's cockpit.

Jordan Anderson Racing said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that the main power line in the No. 31 had shorted out. This is what caused the sudden fire in the cockpit.

Love's No. 2 Chevrolet also had a sizable fire, albeit one that began after the rookie had exited the race. The fire began as the tow truck pulled the destroyed car back to the garage. The track crew had to immediately unhook the car so that the safety team could extinguish the blaze.

The tire issues at Iowa were not exclusive to the Xfinity Series. Five different Cup drivers had flat tires during Friday's 50-minute practice session.

Tyler Reddick, Ross Chastain, and Ty Gibbs all avoided damage. Christopher Bell and Austin Cindric both crashed and had to go to backup cars for Sunday's inaugural Cup race at Iowa. They will both have to start from the rear of the field.

With tire issues surfacing in both Cup practice and the Xfinity race, there are lingering concerns about Sunday's race.