Bridgestone supplies tires to Formula One, an arrangement that's scheduled to end later this year. Other tire manufacturers are rushing to fill the gap, and the results could prove instructive for NASCAR when it considers a similar move in a couple years.
Right now, Michelin and Cooper Avon are the two leading candidates, though Pirelli is also reportedly readying plans to get back in the fray. As Autoblog notes, all three have experience at the F1 level -- Michelin from 1977 to 1984 and 2001 to 2006, Avon from 1954 to 1958 and 1981 to 1982, and Pirelli during the 1950s and 1980s. In addition, Korean rubber companies Hankook and Kumho could enter the mix as well.
Michelin has some brass lug nuts, though, considering the way its last F1 venture went. Fears over the safety of Michelin tires at a United States Grand Prix race in Indianapolis in 2005 meant that only six cars started the race, and the resulting debacle was one of the worst farces in modern racing history. (NASCAR whiners, take a lesson: as bad as you think things are, they can always get much, much worse.)
Goodyear, NASCAR's tire supplier, has a contract that runs through 2012. Obviously, it's far too early to talk about whether that deal will even come up for bid. But if and when it does, here's one piece of video from Tony Stewart that Goodyear probably won't want to include in its bid package:
Don't ever change, Smoke.