Upcoming Events on

RATV white
Full Schedule

Goodyear, NASCAR, and Competitors Have Mixed Reviews of High Tire Wear in Food City 500

High tire wear was the storyline of the 2024 Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. While some felt the tire wear was far too aggressive, Goodyear included, many, like Dale Earnhardt Jr. and NASCAR were fans of Sunday's race.


hero image for Goodyear, NASCAR, and Competitors Have Mixed Reviews of High Tire Wear in Food City 500

Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway was a race we will all talk about for a long, long time. The race was filled with enough unpredictability to give even the wildest restrictor plate race a run for its money. With massive tire wear, where tires could only last roughly 40 to 70 laps on the cars, the race -- at least in the beginning -- felt like a true crapshoot.

Typically, tires last for 100-plus laps with no issue in NASCAR Cup Series events at the half-mile track in Tennessee. It was a befuddling issue as Goodyear and NASCAR state that they brought back the same tire compound combination, which was utilized in last fall's Night Race at Bristol.

Goodyear's Greg Stucker said that last season, the tire manufacturer brought a tire to the Bristol Motor Speedway tire test, which was intended to wear out more aggressively at the request of NASCAR and the race teams. The tire, the same one used on Sunday, performed exactly as expected last fall.

The tire rubbered in the concrete track surface, and there were very little tire wear issues throughout the duration of a fuel run. This time around, things were very different, and Stucker believes the usage of resin in the corners, as opposed to PJ1 like last season, could be the root of the issue.

"Now, we're trying to understand what's different, why is the racetrack behaving differently than it did a year ago. It's the same package, it's the same tire combination," Stucker said. "Obviously, the difference is the resin was placed on the lower groove instead of the PJ1, yet, I still think the racetrack should be taking rubber as it did last fall. It took rubber immediately during that race. Still a little bit of an unknown on why it isn't behaving the same way."

NASCAR opted to move to resin in the corners at Bristol for this event as they approved Bristol Motor Speedway for the sanctioning body's wet weather package.

During a wet weather test at the facility, NASCAR realized that PJ1 was not optimal for track surfaces in wet-weather situations.

"If you remember last year when we came here in the fall, we had that delay before the race started for sprinkles that went through the area. One thing we learned with our testing on the wet weather on ovals was the cars are the best way to dry the track quickly," John Probst, NASCAR's Senior Vice President, Racing Operations said after the race. "Fans want to see the cars on track. So, when we came here and tested, we tried the PJ, and when we wet the track down, it's almost like oil on the track. The cars got no traction. So when we came back here this year with the wet-weather package for Bristol, we opted to use the resin instead of PJ1."

If the change is what caused the issue, the next question becomes what needs a change before the next race at Bristol? The traction compound or the tire compound?

Stucker feels like something will need to change as he felt the tire wear seen on Sunday was simply too much.

"Tire wear is always the goal. That's what people want to see," Stucker said. "It creates comers and goers, and who manages the tires the best. Like I said, I thought we were in a good spot last fall. And obviously, something is different now. This is too drastic."

While the opening portion of the race seemed like a Southwest Airlines ad for the folks in the Goodyear Racing hauler, at the end of the day, the racing on Sunday was incredible.

The Food City 500 featured a Bristol Motor Speedway track record 54 lead changes, and watching the drivers balance going hard for position, and managing their tires for the long run made for an ultra-compelling event.

And while the level of tire wear wasn't exactly what Goodyear was going for, it added a constant storyline to keep an eye on throughout the race. And at no point did the race ever feel like somebody had it in the bag.

The longest stretch of laps any driver led at one time in Sunday's race was Ty Gibbs with 42 consecutive laps led from Lap 323 to 364. That is the all-time record for the smallest total of the highest consecutive laps led in any event ever contested at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The previous low was 58 consecutive laps led in the 2012 Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol.

While the aggressive tire wear was different; different doesn't always equate to bad. In fact, many fans on social media, and influential voices within the industry liked what they saw on Sunday.

With 100 laps remaining, Dale Earnhardt Jr., a NASCAR Hall of Famer, called Sunday's race at Bristol the best short track race in the Next Gen era in a post on X.

Earnhardt's opinion didn't sway over the final 100 laps.

And Earnhardt wasn't the only driver watching on television that raved about the show. NASCAR Xfinity Series competitor Chandler Smith posted, "#MoreTireWear," on X.

Parker Kligerman also posted, "I loved that race. Could you imagine Netflix doing an episode on that race alone? Was it extreme? Sure. But beautiful & special in so many ways," on his X account.

Chris Gabehart, the crew chief for Denny Hamlin stated, "It's supposed to be hard. You're supposed to see these guys struggle," when asked about the tire wear after the race. Gabehart also said for people to stop pointing their pitchforks at Goodyear.

"To me, I love it," Matt McCall, Brad Keselowski's crew chief said. "Obviously, it's easier when you're running good to say it, but this is the style of racing I grew up doing. You had to do a little managing, you had to figure out what tire you were wearing. How do you work the other tires."

"Overall, I thought it was pretty cool," McCall added.

Justin Haley, who came home with a 17th-place finish in the No. 51 Rick Ware Racing entry after being inside the top-10 for large portions of the race, said it was an incredibly fun race from his perspective.

"I loved it. I don't know what social media says, but as a driver, I thought it was fun because you had to manage it," Haley explained. "You weren't all-out the whole time. It was fun to have a major part in how the car ran."

While many liked the race, some despised it, including defending NASCAR Cup Series champion Ryan Blaney.

"No, I didn't have fun. What's fun about riding around, and pooping around there. Can't run 50 laps unless you blow a tire, and you've got guys with blown stuff creeping around the racetrack. I can't believe there wasn't an accident there."

Blaney compared the day to the Daytona 500, where drivers rode around saving fuel all race long instead of racing hard for the win all race long. The driver of the No. 12 Team Penske Ford also believed, despite what NASCAR and Goodyear said, that the tire compound had to be different this time around than last fall.

"If you bring a new tire like this, obviously they're going to deny they brought a new tire, but obviously it's different," Blaney stated. "You have to test it. You can't just show up at the racetrack and run 500 laps with it. You have to have a tire test. That's why we have tire tests, and if you don't this is what happens."

While many speculated that the type of race we saw Sunday at Bristol, while fun, different, and exciting -- probably would not be seen again for a long time. However, after the race, NASCAR gave the final result of the race a glowing review, which leads you to believe that perhaps tire wear, maybe not quite to the level that we saw on Sunday, could be here to stay.

"Well, I know the race teams are probably pretty worn out right now, and I know our track crew and folks up in the booth are pretty worn out just from a pretty exciting day all the way around on the track," NASCAR's Probst said. "Certainly had some anxiety around tire wear and things like that, but overall, I think it was probably one of the best short track races I've ever seen."

We'll wait to see what the tire wear situation looks like when the NASCAR Cup Series teams head to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Night Race in the fall, but it feels like NASCAR and Goodyear may have accidentally hit on the magical cure for the stale short track racing product that has plagued the NASCAR Cup Series since the adaptation of the Next Gen car in 2022.

Photo Credit: Will Bellamy, Racing America

RA Icon


Sign-up for our free NASCAR & Grassroots racing newsletter...