A P215/75R15, steel‐belted radial tire subjected to inflation pressure and footprint loading is modeled using laminated, geometrically nonlinear finite elements. The resulting stresses in both the rubber and the plies are presented. Assumptions made include fixed boundary conditions at the bead‐flange interface, linear material property representation, and symmetry with respect to the meridional and tread centerline planes. The footprint loading is simulated by enforcing vertical displacements at selected nodes of the model to yield a contact patch force distribution. In‐plane patch forces are not included. Experimental results are given showing comparisons with analytical predictions. Advantages of this approach over models presented earlier are the capability to extract information from each layer and to apply displacements directly to the contact patch rather than using a Fourier approach. The model is exercised using the MSC/NASTRAN program. The straightforward restart capability along with the ability to include or exclude nodal points in the contact patch set during the iteration process make the MSC/NASTRAN program convenient to use for this class of problems.