NASCAR looking at adding option of soft tires in 2018
NASCAR is considering doing what a lot of other auto racing series around the world do: Give its race teams the option of running two different types of tires for each race.
The first would be a conventional set, the second a softer compound that is significantly faster than the normal tire, but presumably would wear out much quicker.
The sanctioning body will use this year’s 2017 Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway as a test bed to try out two compounds.
There, teams can choose between regular tires which will have a yellow Goodyear logo on the side and one set of softer tires that will be up to four-tenths of a second faster per lap — about 2.5 miles per hour at CMS — initially. The softer tires will have green logos.
The teams can use the green tires whenever they want in the all-star event, but if they put them on for the final 10-lap segment in the 70-lap race, they have to start at the tail end of the grid. Just 10 cars will compete in the final all-star segment.
Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer, confirmed that if the two-tire method works at the all-star race, it could be in play for regular-season points races in 2018.
“This is something we will certainly look at for 2018,” O’Donnell said. “We want to see how this plays out. But when you look at where the levers we can look to pull from a competitive standpoint, this is certainly one of those, and one we’re excited about. We’re positive about what could happen … and it’s something we would look at for sure.”
Cup points leader Kyle Larson, who grew up racing on dirt tracks where teams have multiple tire options, said he liked the idea.
“Dirt tracks, you have two to three different compounds you can choose from, different staggers, to make your car work better,” said Larson. “Adding that little bit of tire game and strategy is exciting for the race teams. And if you can hit on it, it’s really good.”
Daytona 500 winner Kurt Busch said he was curious to see how having the softer tires as an option would work.
“You just expect the unknown,” said Busch.
Busch, while positive about the move, said it will be a case of trial and error.
“Let’s see how it goes,” said Busch, who won the all-star race in 2010. “I want to say that it’s going to be the best thing for movement and traffic and passing guys, and you hope that the tire has the durability built into it, so you don’t have to worry about the safety side of it, as far as blowing out.
“But I like it,” Busch said. “It all makes sense. Let’s see how it goes and we’ll go from there.”