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NASCAR Cup North Wilkesboro

How option tires will work in the NASCAR All-Star Race

Tires – and how they fall off – have always been a part of NASCAR racing but they will become a much bigger focus in Sunday night’s NASCAR All-Star Race.

Josh Berry, Hendrick Motorsports, Ally Chevrolet Camaro

The race remains basically the same – two heat races to set the starting lineup and a 200-lap main event at the historic North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway that pays $1 million to the winner.

During the race, however, teams will be faced with some potentially challenging tire strategy decisions.

NASCAR and Goodyear have made three different tires potentially available for the event – a “prime tire” (the baseline tire assessed in a Goodyear tire test in March); an “option tire” (slick tires but made with the same rubber as the wet weather tire); and the “wet weather” tires (used only if the track is wet).

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The ‘Goodyear Eagle’ lettering will be yellow on the prime tires, red on the option tires, and white on the wet weather tires.

“During the test, we evaluated a set-up that utilized a right-side tire with the tread compound we use on our current wet weather tire. That set-up proved to be three-tenths-of-a-second faster over our control set-up,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing.

“In conversations with NASCAR, bringing an ‘option’ tire to the All-Star Race became a possibility and we had this data point to work from. With the adjustment to the wet weather compound on both the right- and left-side we expect the ‘option’ set-up to be maybe four- to five-tenths quicker than the ‘prime’ set-up, which is quite significant on a five-eighths-mile track.

“Now, with that extra grip and speed comes the fact that the ‘option’ tire will fall off more quickly, making tire management an important factor when those tires are on the car.”

Here’s a refresher on the rules for use of the different tires:

- Teams will be allotted nine sets of tires for the event weekend.

- All four tires on the car must be of the same type at all times.

- For practice, qualifying, the heat races, and the Open, teams will be allotted three sets of prime tires and two sets of option tires.

- Teams will have the choice to start on any type of tire in practice, the heats and the Open. Only the prime tire will be used during both qualifying sessions.

- For the All-Star Race main event, teams will have two sets each of primes and options. All teams will start on the option for the main event.

- NASCAR will decide if conditions warrant teams being able to utilize the wet weather tires. Teams will have a maximum of four sets of wet weather tires for the event.

Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro

Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images

Veteran NASCAR Cup crew chief Rodney Childers believes teams will face an important choice – stay on the harder tire the whole time with less time on pit road or utilize the option tire more, which may require more adjustments and perhaps pit stops.

“For me, being in the Open (with driver Josh Berry), it’s going to be interesting to see what happens in those heat races on Saturday because really what happens there is what’s going to determine what we do for the Open.

“It’s going to be a learning weekend for all of us and see how much rubber is down from the CARS Tour races and different things throughout the weekend. I think once the track rubbers up I don’t think the tires are going to feather that bad.

“So, I think it’ll turn into whichever one is the fastest and softest, which is probably going to be that option tire.”

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