The biggest issue I found with Sunday’s tire conversation-dominated event was who to thank for it because still today, nobody seems to know the exact reason how it came about.

A tire combination used last fell at Bristol with no problems on the same cars suddenly decided this spring not to lay down any rubber on the same track surface – like at all. Instead, what remained was beads of rubber marbles and most tire cording after about 50 laps.

In a 500-lap race, and starting with nine sets of new tires, that presented a problem – but as it turned out, also an opportunity.

NASCAR and Goodyear were able to give each Cup team an additional set of new tires midway through the race and most teams were able to make them last.

And in the process, we witnessed a race ripe with record passing, excitement, nervousness and uncertainty and absent talk of “aero push,” track position or drivers craving more horsepower.

Ty Gibbs, Joe Gibbs Racing, Sirius XM Toyota Camry

Ty Gibbs, Joe Gibbs Racing, Sirius XM Toyota Camry

Photo by: Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / Motorsport Images

It was simply, “Racin’ the way it oughta be.”

Wait, I think I’ve heard that somewhere before.

Seriously, though, Sunday’s race showcased the best of NASCAR – the experience, ingenuity and talent of the sports’ teams and their drivers.

It’s something that has always existed but has become overshadowed over the years as many changes in the sport have taken place, whether it be in the design of the cars or how the races are run or how the champion series is determined.

Teams were thrown a giant curveball; they took on the challenge and adapted to the best of their abilities.

Forced to adapt

In the process, drivers were faced with doing something many hadn’t in years – and some not worried about at all – which was methodically conserving tires rather than simply waiting to put the next set on when they needed to stop for gas.

Ingenious concept, right?

Not really. It had long been a part of NASCAR – I’ve even gotten to see some of it in my two dozen-plus years covering the sport – but something that has gradually disappeared over time. Tires lasting a fuel run or longer have become the norm rather than the exception.

The most remarkable thing of all is this great improvement in racing was accomplished by not a single increase in horsepower – which has long (tiringly long) been the rallying cry of fans and drivers who crave a return to “the good ‘ol days.”

In fact, if you used all the horsepower that you had Sunday, you probably ended up on the wall with a corded tire.

I’ve never felt trapped in the horsepower debate for two reasons.

Corded Goodyear tires after several laps

Corded Goodyear tires after several laps

Photo by: Lesley Ann Miller / Motorsport Images

It’s become abundantly clear that it’s never going to change. In an age when manufacturers must work harder to justify their expensive investments in racing, the last thing they want to invest in is more attributes that they don’t sell to the public.

Not to mention the addition of any new manufacturers to the sport – which everyone claims to want – is not going to happen by returning to power systems not utilized by the products they produce.

Like it or not, today’s “stock cars” are not the same as a decade or ago, let alone two or three. And tomorrow’s version will be even different change.

Times change. So do sports.

What Sunday showed was NASCAR still has at its disposal the tools to seriously correct some of the biggest complaints in racing these days and its team didn’t have to add one single item to their respective cars.

It may not be possible to duplicate what we saw at Bristol on any sort of regular basis – at some level Goodyear may not like to see that at all – but it is certainly worth a try.

It will at least change what has become a tiresome conversation.

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