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New car, old tires a bad combination, so what does NASCAR do next?

INDIANAPOLIS -- NASCAR has a difficult choice to make, and it needs to make it soon. Either change the new car, or change the tires on the car.

Too many times at too many tracks this season, the combination doesn't work.

The situation that took place Sunday in the Allstate 400 was inexcusable: Nine competition cautions plagued the second-biggest event of the season.

"It was a ridiculous race," said Ryan Newman, who finished 13th. "There was no racing involved, other than mandatory cautions."

A tire on a race car should last longer than 10 laps, regardless of the type of track or the abrasiveness of the surface.

"That's the most bizarre race I've ever run," said Dale Earnhardt Jr. who finished 12th. "I was just glad we got through it with no real chaos. I'm ashamed, but there wasn't much we could do."

The new car, formerly known as the Car of Tomorrow, is a remarkable advancement in safety. The men who designed it deserve praise for that fact alone.

But it comes with a complication no one expected: The shape, weight and balance of the car cause major issues with the type of tires NASCAR has used for decades.

NASCAR has to either allow the teams to make changes to the car, or make a radical structural-design change to the tires.

"We have considered and discussed wider tires, taller tires and different configurations," said Greg Stucker, Goodyear's director of racing. "We're always looking at different ways to address this. It's something we'll continue to look at. But it's something that has to go hand in hand with the teams and NASCAR."

The Brickyard race was a worst-case scenario, but other events this year have suffered from a competitive standpoint because of the incompatibility between the tires and the new car.

Many fans will blame Goodyear for Sunday's debacle, but this issue goes deeper than the tire manufacturer. No company could build a tire, under the current rules, that would work well on this car at some tracks.

The problem doesn't show up on short tracks or road courses. And the car/tire combo seems OK on the two restrictor-plate tracks -- Daytona and Talladega.

But on high-speed ovals, whether high-banked or relatively flat like Indy, competitive racing often is missing.

"As everyone understands, this car loads right-side tires different that what we've run over the last 15 or 20 years," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition.

That gives Goodyear two choices, each with a nasty side effect. It can build a tire compound so hard that it won't wear out. Side effect: It makes the car's handling so bad that it's almost impossible to race.

Or Goodyear can build a softer compound that gives the drivers more grip and a better chance to race side-by-side. Side effect: The tire wears out quickly and compromises safety.

Goodyear opted for the softer tire at Indy, which produced a high number of green-flag passes. But what good is that if officials have to stop the action every 10 laps?

Either scenario above is unacceptable.

"There are really only five things that keep a car on a racetrack," said Chad Knaus, crew chief for Sunday's winner, Jimmie Johnson. "That's four tires and downforce. Everybody has to realize that this car has about 50 percent of the downforce we had in the past."

It's embarrassing and disappointing. I've never seen anything like this, and I'm really sorry that it happened in such a big race like the Brickyard.

-- Jeff Gordon

Less downforce with a boxier car hasn't worked with any tire compound Goodyear has tried.

"The problem is not one thing," said Cup driver Brian Vickers. "We've seen all year long that this car is a lot worse on tires. I think everybody has to raise their hand and take some responsibility here. We have to really think about where we're going and how we're going to do it."

Many people involved in NASCAR, including Knaus and team owner Rick Hendrick, believe more testing at Cup tracks will solve the problem. But testing alone won't work unless NASCAR allows the teams to tweak the cars.

The window of adjustments on the new car is so small that it severely limits what teams can do to improve on-track performance.

Something has to change. Many drivers were apologizing to the fans after the Allstate 400.

"It's embarrassing and disappointing," Jeff Gordon said. "I've never seen anything like this, and I'm really sorry that it happened in such a big race like the Brickyard."

It's time to change the car or change the tires. NASCAR can't afford another situation like Sunday's race at Indy.

"It's disrespectful for the fans," Newman said. "That's not the way NASCAR racing is supposed to be."

Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at terry@blountspeak.com.