Teams in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and Camping World Truck Series will run completely different tire set-ups at Charlotte this week. In Cup, teams will have two different tire set-ups for the All-Star event, “Prime” tires, which will be run throughout the two weeks at Charlotte, and “Option” tires, which have the same construction but more tractive compounds for a three- to five-tenths of a second per lap pick-up for a short run. The Prime tires have the same left-side tire code (D-4698) that teams ran at Charlotte last season with a new right-side tire code (D-4732).
Compared to what was run at Charlotte last year, the right-side tread compound is the same, but the tire features an updated construction to bring it into line with what is run at other speedways.
On all NASCAR ovals greater than one mile in length, teams are required to run inner liners in all four tire positions at Charlotte. The air pressure in those inner liners should be 12-25 psi greater than that of the outer tire.
“Option” Tire Adds Interest To All-Star Race
Do I save my one set of Option tires for the last stage of the race? If I do, we’ll drop to the back of the pack, so how quickly will I gain my spots back? The Option tires will be up to a half-second quicker per lap in the beginning, but how quickly will they fall off? Should I take my Option tires in the third or even second stage to help lock me into the final 10-car, 10-lap shootout? Should I start the third stage on my Prime tires and hope for a caution and put on the Option tires to end the stage for maximum effect?
These are some of the questions Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series crew chiefs must be asking themselves leading into the Monster Energy All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway this Saturday (May 20).
All are valid questions, and all will be answered on Saturday night, as crew chiefs and teams jockey for the $1 million winners purse. The “non-points” All-Star race has always produced a strategic, risk-taking attitude by Cup teams. This year, that stands to be heightened with the choice of which tire to run and when.
“Tire and fuel strategy have always been an important element to any race-winning effort, but for this year’s All-Star race, with the addition of ‘Option’ tires, we’ve added a whole new dimension,” said Stu Grant, Goodyear’s general manager of global race tires. “Teams will have the choice to use their one set of Option tires for the race at any point during the 70 laps. They could use them early to enhance their chances of making it to the final stage, or in the final, 10-lap dash.”
Goodyear will bring two different race tire set-ups to Charlotte for the first time in NASCAR competition. The “Prime” tire will be the one that will be run by Cup teams throughout the 10 days of racing at Charlotte. This set-up follows Goodyear Racing’s goal of offering teams the most grip possible for a particular track, while being able to last a full fuel run (50-55 laps at Charlotte). The “Option” tire features the same construction as the “Prime” but with a more tractive tread compound to give more grip. The “Option” is estimated to be three- to five-tenths of a second faster per lap than the “Prime” out of the box. Because of the “softer” compound, It will also fall off more over its intended use of a 10- or 20-lap run.
“All teams do have a set of Option tires to try in practice, but there is no clear time to use them in the actual race, so it will be really interesting to watch everything unfold,” added Grant. “That decision could make or break your chances of winning the race.”
It will be easy to identify when a team is running the Option tire, instead of Goodyear’s traditional, yellow lettering, the Option tire will feature bright-green branding for “Goodyear” and “Eagle.” Why green? Goodyear conducted dynamic testing with many different colors at 195 mph and determined that green stood out best for fans and viewers to be able to see when teams employ this strategic move during the race.
Along with the special color, several special rules have been put in place to go along with the advent of the Option tire:
• All-Star teams will get one set of Option tires for the race itself. All teams competing over the weekend, including those in the Open event, will get one set of Option tires to practice on. Teams that qualify for the All-Star race will also have two sets of Primes for the four-stage, 70-lap event.
• Once a team decides to use their one race set of Options, they must put on all four tires at the same time.
• Any team that uses their set of Options for the final stage must re-start the race behind those teams that are not on the Option tires.
“The All-Star race has always been an exciting event,” said Grant. The two-tire option we’ve introduced this year will take that to a whole, new level.”
NASCAR and Goodyear’s decision to add this wrinkle to this year’s All-Star race has added a level of anticipation. Many questions need to be considered; only one team will have the million dollar answer.
UPDATE — May 17, NASCAR added a set of "Prime" tires to the Monster Energy All-Star race allotment. Teams in the All-Star race will now have three sets of "Prime" tires and one set of "Option" tires for the four-stage, 70-lap race.