Race car drivers love grip, and at this year’s Monster Energy All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway (Saturday, May 20), they will have an option to get more of it, at least after one strategic pit stop.
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company will offer two different tire set-ups for this year’s event – a “Prime” tire combination, which is what Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams will run throughout the two weeks at Charlotte, and one set of an “Option” tire combination, which can be used at any point during the four-stage race.
The Option tire set-up utilizes the same speedway construction as the Prime tires, but with tread compounds formulated to provide more traction. The Option set-up is projected to be three- to five-tenths of a second faster per lap, out of the box.
“We’re extremely excited about this format and the ability to bring an Option tire to this year’s All-Star race,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing. “The more tractive compounds used in this combination of left- and right-side tires will showcase the strategy of the event, and will give teams the ability to choose exactly when to use this set-up to give them the best chance to win.”
Because it features “softer” compounds, the Option set-up should fall-off more than the Prime, and therefore will be used at strategically the right time for each team. That may be for the final 10-lap segment, or perhaps earlier if a team needs to bolster its prospects of transferring into that final stage.
Each team in both the All-Star race and the Monster Energy Open transfer race will receive a practice set of Option tires, so they will be able to tune their car for maximum effect when the time comes to use that set-up in competition.
Two more All-Star rules relating to Goodyear’s Option tires are: (1) once a team decides to use their one race set, they must put on all four tires at once, and (2) any team that uses their set for the final stage must re-start the race behind those teams that are not on the Option tires.
Because these Option tires are a special addition to this year’s All-Star format, they will also carry different color lettering. Instead of Goodyear’s traditional yellow letters – which will remain on the Prime tires – the Option tires will feature bold, green lettering. Being a company that is all about testing its tires for performance purposes, Goodyear analyzed different colors during dynamic testing at 195 mph to determine which stood out best for fans and viewers to be able to see when teams employ this critical strategy move during the race.
Offering different tire combinations is new to NASCAR, but not to Goodyear. The tire-maker has offered Prime and Option tire set-ups during its involvement in Formula 1, IndyCar and other forms of auto racing.
The possibility of running an Option tire set-up in the All-Star race was first brought up between NASCAR and Goodyear last fall. Once NASCAR was able to solidify the race format and potential use for the Option tire, Goodyear got to work on its part of design and manufacturing.
“Bringing this wrinkle to the All-Star race highlights the strength of the relationship between Goodyear and NASCAR,” said Stucker. “Those of us that are involved in this sport try to create the best racing in the world. It’s always a collaboration between NASCAR and all of its stakeholders – Goodyear among them – that brings everything back to the competition on the track and the enjoyment of our fans.”
Goodyear has been involved in NASCAR since 1954, and has been the official tire supplier to its top three series since 1997.