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.”