Photo credit: Nigel Kinrade Photography

Tire issues disrupt Cup practice at Iowa Speedway

Multiple teams have dealt with unexpected tire issues at Iowa Speedway, creating significant questions about how Sunday's inaugural Cup Series race at the short track will unfold.

Cup Series teams took to Iowa Speedway Friday afternoon for a 50-minute practice session. This was the first opportunity to try out the partially repaved surface ahead of the inaugural Cup race at the .875-mile oval. Some drivers found speed while five others dealt with tire issues.

Ty Gibbs was the first to experience tire issues. His No. 54 Toyota Camry blew a right front tire after 24 laps. He was able to keep the car out of the wall, but he had to limp it back to the garage area. Gibbs ultimately returned to the track and posted the second-fastest lap of the session.

Christopher Bell was the next, but he dealt with far more significant problems. The No. 20 blew a right front tire after he completed 19 laps. The car slammed into the wall as Bell said, "That one hurt" over the radio. Like Gibbs, Bell had to take his Toyota back to the garage.

"That's a shame," Bell said about his tire issue to NBC Sports. "I don't know. I mean, it's definitely an eye-opener that it's happened to us both."

Ross Chastain was the third driver to deal with a tire issue Friday at Iowa. Unlike the Joe Gibbs Racing cars, his No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet dealt with a flat left rear tire.

Chastain tried to make it back to pit road, but he ultimately stopped the car on the track apron. This led to a situation where track crews tried to figure out exactly how to get the No. 1 Chevrolet back to pit road without damaging it.

The solution, which took extensive time, was using two tow harnesses to lift the No. 1 in the air. The trucks then set the Chevrolet onto a dolly for the journey back to the garage.

"I was surprised," Chastain told NBC Sports' Marty Smith. "When they said, 'Dolly,' I didn't know Miss Parton was coming to Iowa."

Austin Cindric was the last to have a tire issue on the track. He blew a right front tire in Turn 1 after completing 19 laps, and he slammed into the wall. His No. 2 Ford Mustang remained scraped against the wall for a while before he was able to pull back down the track and head to the garage.

"We certainly weren't one of the only teams to have tire issues, but it definitely seems like there are some limitations," Cindric said after practice. "It was a good lesson to learn maybe before the race, but there's a lot of work for the team to get ready for qualifying tomorrow."

While Gibbs and Chastain were able to avoid damage, Bell and Cindric faced more serious concerns. Their teams had to pull out the backup cars so they could prep them for Saturday afternoon's qualifying session (1:05 p.m. ET on USA Network).

Tyler Reddick nearly had an on-track issue of his own at the end of the practice session. He realized his right front tire was starting to lose air, so he pulled onto pit road and came to a stop. Reddick remained there until the end of the practice session.

The common denominator in these tire issues was the number of laps. All of the drivers had completed around 20 laps before experiencing issues. This piece of data gave crew chiefs something to work with ahead of Sunday's race but it also created more concerns considering that the fuel run will be around 100 laps.

Fortunately for the Cup teams, practicing on Friday means they will have an extra day to study data and come up with a game plan ahead of Sunday's race (7 p.m. ET on USA Network).