My Thoughts on NASCAR Option Tires

By David G. Firestone

While I took some badly needed time off last week, there was an announcement concerning the All-Star Race. There were two things that were discussed, one of which confirms something I’ve been thinking might happen. The first part is that the All-Star Race format will be similar to the One Hot Night format in 1992. This was one of the most exciting races of all time, and I like that the 25th Anniversary is being commemorated in that manner.

The other major news item is that for that race, option tires are coming to NASCAR. Option tires are softer, but aren’t as durable. The softer material has better grip. This has been a mainstay in Formula 1, and recently in IndyCar. I was wondering when these would come to NASCAR, but I didn’t think they would debut as a 1 set per team for the All-Star Race.

So far, option tires are primarily used during road courses. IndyCar uses them on road courses, but not on the oval tracks, especially high banked ovals. Racing option tires on high banked ovals is unheard of. Since teams are only issued one set, I will be interested to see how teams use the set. Who is going to be the first team to take the plunge and use these tires on track. Furthermore, if teams choose to use the tires during the final stint, they must start behind the teams with primary tires.

What I’m also wondering is that if Goodyear has developed option tires, could they be used for road courses? It makes logical sense, since option tires are used for road courses in other forms of racing. I don’t see them being used at plate tracks, and if things go well, could they be used at intermediate tracks and short tracks? I’m really wondering how these tires are going to work.

My one complaint is that the option tires are branded as a yellow-ish green, that looks too close to the yellow Goodyear currently uses. Can I ask a question? Why not blue? It’s distinctive enough from the yellow, and remains one of Goodyear’s colors. It would be easier, and would look good too. Even a darker green would work, since it can be easily distinguished from the yellow. It’s a minor complaint, but as has been shown the distinct colors make it easier for fans and announcers to tell what kinds of tires are being used. I will look forward to these tires used, and I am looking forward to the future for tires.

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