With a less-than-stellar crowd Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway, the debate over the “old” Bristol versus the “new” Bristol arose again after the Food City 500.
NASCAR’s estimated attendance of 102,000 seemed generous as the 158,000-seat facility seemed to be only about half full. The half-mile track, which used to be known for its bumper-to-bumper action and bump-and-run style of racing, was reconfigured in 2007 with the addition of progressive banking along with new concrete.
“I think the racing has suffered since the change,” said Dale Earnhardt Jr. “Go and watch the first race we had here with this surface. That was a great race. Carl (Edwards) and Kasey (Kahne) battled for the win all night.
“I remember being up in the middle of that and we were running three-wide for the lead. It’s possible to have an awesome race here.”
So what happened? Earnhardt Jr. says the new Goodyear tire is hurting competition because it is too durable and does not wear out enough.
“I think Goodyear could come in here and pull some trickery with the tires and improve the racing,” he said. “This tire is a great tire. But Goodyear really holds the key, I think, to improving this surface and this configuration. Aside from digging it up and trying again, they’re going to have to move the tire around a little bit to see if that will affect the racing.”