Teams participating in this weekend’s 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series All-Star race will have the opportunity to pick from two tire compounds during the race, with NASCAR officials adding a stickier ‘option’ tire for the no-points event.
The idea for NASCAR to test a second tire compound first came about late last year, Racer reports. The option tire will give teams more grip and could be good for three-tenths of a second around the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway oval, however it won’t last as long as the standard compound. The additional tire set should make things a bit more interesting come Sunday, as teams will be forced to implement good tire strategy in addition to fuel strategy.
“It was something that was floated during our annual meeting with NASCAR last year,” said Goodyear director of racing Greg Stucker. “Every year we sit down in the fall with NASCAR and kind of talk about the season that we’re finishing up – what went well, what do we need to work on, what’s changing for next year. It actually came up first last fall. So, we went to work and started looking at how we would change it, what we would do, what our approach would be.”
This year’s All-Star race will be run in four segments. The only ways to make it into the final segment are to either win one of the first three segments or achieve a high average finish. A total of 20 cars will participate in the All-Star event, however just 10 will make it to the final round. The winner of the event won’t take home any championship points, but they’ll get a cool $1,000,000 check from NASCAR.
The strategies may get interesting, as any drivers who elect to use the stickier tire in the final segment will be forced to start behind those on the prime tire. If the option compound proves to be much faster than the standard compound, this may be a wise move. If it only offers a minimal performance gain, however, it may be best to use the compound to win a segment or achieve a high average finish, leaving the standard compound for the final segment.
“I think what everybody wants to see is open the door for some different strategies and I think with two different tire options, that’s what you have,” Stucker said. “Some guys, if they struggle in the first segment, you might see them put (the tires) on in the second or the third in order to advance.”
The 2017 NASCAR All-Star race will get underway on Saturday, May 20th at 8:00 p.m. ET.