Dale Earnhardt Jr. Sep 15, 2023; Bristol, Tennessee, USA; NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88) during driver introductions at Bristol Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Patrick’s Day edition of NASCAR’s Food City 500 was one of the most bizarrely entertaining races we’ve ever seen at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Rapidly worn tires turned things into a tire management race that resulted in a NASCAR short track record of 54 lead changes, with five cars finishing on the lead lap, and Denny Hamlin winning.

One massive fan of the race was Dale Earnhardt Jr. The NASCAR analyst, who is reportedly leaving NBC Sports for Amazon and TNT Sports in 2025, praised the race and Goodyear for unintentionally bringing in a tire that wore quickly.

Goodyear didn’t exactly see it like Earnhardt did. Goodyear’s Greg Stucker met with the media during the race and explained that tire wear was “too drastic” after NASCAR and teams requested more tire wear at Bristol. With resin instead of PJ1 coating the bottom groove in the turns, and rubber not laying down anywhere on the track, Stucker said that Goodyear would need to figure out why that was the case. During the race, NASCAR and Goodyear gave teams an extra set of tires.

In fairness to Stucker, he’s trying to make sure Goodyear isn’t embarrassed, but many felt the tires made for a great race. That wasn’t Goodyear’s intention to have tires wear that quickly, but that’s what happened. There were a record number of lead changes for a short track race; an amazing result considering the Next Gen car is notoriously horrible on short tracks. The tire showed who could conserve their tires and make them last and who couldn’t; a skill that is learned on local short tracks that isn’t applied very often in today’s NASCAR.

Who knows what Goodyear decides to do for the fall Bristol race or next year’s spring race, but I join Dale Jr. when I say NASCAR could use more of this.

[Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Bob Pockrass]

About Phillip Bupp

Producer/editor of the Awful Announcing Podcast and Short and to the Point. News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. Highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them.

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