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Cup teams no longer required to start races on qualifying tires

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NASCAR issued a change to its rulebook Wednesday no longer requiring Cup Series teams to start races on the same set of tires they qualified on. The change will begin with the Coca-Cola 600 on May 27 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Previously, teams had to start races from the rear of the field if they did not start on their qualifying tires.

“This helps us ensure a level playing field, and will end speculation that teams miss qualifying purposely to start the race with a tire advantage,” Scott Miller, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition, said in a statement provided to NBC Sports.

The most recent example of a car starting from the rear for changing tires was Kyle Larson last weekend at Kansas Speedway.

Larson spun in qualifying and flat-spotted his tires, requiring him to start last. Larson’s No. 42 Chevrolet finised fifth in the first stage.

In the Feb. 25 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Martin Truex Jr. started 35th on new tires after failing prequalifying inspection. He was fifth at the end of Stage 1.

“That’s a really good penalty when you come to a place like this, huh?” Larson’s spotter observed during the first stage on an abrasive track known for heavy tire wear.

NASCAR also changed the number of tires that are supplied to teams in a race weekend. Beginning with the Coke 600, teams will have four sets of tires for practice and qualifying, except for superspeedway races, where they will have three sets.

For truncated race weekends, teams will be able to carry over their qualifying set to the race. If they do not make laps on their qualifying tires, they must carry over a scuffed set from practice.

In another rules bulletin Wednesday, NASCAR also mandated that teams may only use traditional battery-powered equipment to repair a vehicle on the service side of the pit wall. Traditional battery-powered equipment includes (but is not limited to) reciprocating saws, rivet guns, screw guns, and drills. Any other equipment may be used only at the discretion of a series’ managing director.

Goodyear Tire info for All-Star Weekend

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This weekend’s NASCAR festivities at Charlotte Motor Speedway will see two completely different tire setups for the All-Star Race and in the Camping World Truck Series.

For the All-Star Race, Goodyear will bring a tire setup that combines speedway constructions robust enough to stand up to the loads generated by the track banking, with a right side tire that is the same as the more tractive “Option” tire run in last year’s All-Star Race.

This is the first time Cup teams have run this left side tire code at Charlotte, though it was used at Kansas Speedway last weekend. Compared to what was run at Charlotte last year, this left side code features a construction update to bring it into line with what is run at other speedways

“Both factors will lead to more grip for the cars, which will help with the close quarters racing expected with this rules package,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing, in a press release. “The All-Star Race is the perfect time to try an alternate package on the Cup cars and combining it with our new, standard Charlotte tire recommendation will give NASCAR and the industry a good data point to evaluate.”

Set limits: All-Star Race: Nine sets for the event; Monster Open: Five sets for the event (teams transferring to All-Star race can get an additional four sets).

Tire Codes: Left-side — D-4788; Right-side — D-4732

Tire Circumference: Left-side — 2,227 mm (87.68 in.); Right-side — 2,253 mm (88.70 in.)

Minimum Recommended Inflation: Left Front — 19 psi; Left Rear — 19 psi; Right Front — 52 psi; Right Rear — 50 psi

 

Truck Series – North Carolina Education Lottery 200

Set limits: Six sets for the event.

Tire Codes: Left side — D-4786; Right side — D-4730

Tire Circumference: Left side — 2,227 mm (87.68 in.); Right side — 2,245 mm (88.39 in.)

Minimum Recommended Inflation: Left Front — 21 psi; Left Rear — 19 psi; Right Front — 52 psi; Right Rear — 50 psi

This is the same right side tire code the series ran at Charlotte last year, with a new left side tire code. This right side code is one of Goodyear’s multi-zone tread tires, with two different tread compounds on the same tire — the Endurance Zone that is more heat-resistant on the inboard two inches of the tread and the Traction Zone that offers more grip on the 10-inch outboard portion. This new left side features a construction update compared to what Truck teams ran at Charlotte last year.

Goodyear Tire info for Kansas Speedway

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NASCAR heads to Kansas Speedway this weekend with the Cup and Camping World Truck Series competing at the 1.5-mile track.

While both series will have the same right-side tires, Cup and Truck teams will have their own distinct left-side tire codes.

Cup teams used the right-side tire code in both Kansas races last season and it’s unique to Kansas. The right-side tire is one of Goodyear’s multi-zone tread tires, with two tread compounds on the same tire – one on the inboard two inches for heat resistance (Endurance Zone) and one on the outboard 10 inches for grip (Traction Zone).

“These cars are running tremendous speeds and that, combined with the camber settings in the front end, generates a lot of heat in the tire, which shows up most on the inboard of the right-front,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing in a press release. “Being able to protect that area with a more heat and wear resistant tread compound frees us up to give teams more grip with the outboard compound. As NASCAR moved to a lower downforce rules package over the past several seasons, we continued to talk to teams and evaluate performance to look at where we could improve grip. We feel like we made a nice step toward that at Kansas last season, and we return with the same tread compounds in 2018.”

This is the first time Cup teams have run this left-side tire code. Compared to what was run at Kansas last season, it features a construction update to bring it into line with what is run at other speedways. Cup teams will also run this left-side code at Charlotte Motor Speedway over the next two weeks.

Here’s the tire info for Cup

Set limits: Cup: Three sets for practice, one set for qualifying and eight sets for the race.

Tire Codes: Left-side — D-4788; Right-side — D-4720

Tire Circumference: Left-side — 2,227 mm (87.68 in.); Right-side — 2,252 mm (88.66 in.)

Minimum Recommended Inflation: Left Front — 22 psi; Left Rear — 22 psi; Right Front — 52 psi; Right Rear — 50 psi

 

Truck Series

This is the first time Truck teams have run either of these two Goodyear tire codes. Compared to what the Trucks ran at Kansas in 2017, this left-side code features a construction update to align with other speedways.

Set limits: Six sets for the event

Tire Codes: Left-side — D-4784; Right-side — D-4720

Tire Circumference: Left-side — 2,227 mm (87.68 in.); Right-side — 2,252 mm (88.66 in.)

Minimum Recommended Inflation: Left Front — 24 psi; Left Rear — 22 psi; Right Front — 52 psi; Right Rear — 50 psi

Goodyear tire test at Michigan rescheduled due to weather

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The postponed Food City 500 and a wet and cold forecast has forced Goodyear to reschedule this week’s tire test at Michigan International Speedway.

Originally scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, the test will now occur next week from April 24-25.

The move means that a scheduled tire test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for those days will be rescheduled to an undetermined date.

The Michigan test takes priority with the first NASCAR race weekend at the 2-mile speedway scheduled for June 8-10. NASCAR won’t visit IMS until Sept. 7-9.

“Hopefully, this will give us much more representative conditions of what to expect for race time in June,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing, in a press release. “Since our Indy tire test was planned for this time, we’ll have to move that test to sometime in June or July.”

Teams and drivers scheduled to test at Michigan are Furniture Row Racing (Martin Truex Jr.), Hendrick Motorsports (Alex Bowman), Team Penske (Brad Keselowski), Richard Childress Racing (Austin Dillon) and Stewart-Haas Racing (Aric Almirola).

Indianapolis test teams include Chip Ganassi Racing (Jamie McMurray), Joe Gibbs Racing (Daniel Suarez), Roush Fenway Racing (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.) and Wood Brothers Racing (Paul Menard).

‘Option’ tire won’t be used in All-Star race, idea not a ‘dead issue’

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A Goodyear racing executive said a softer “option” tire will not be used in May’s All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but the idea of it is not a “dead issue.”

Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing, made the announcement Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Tradin’ Paint.”

The “option” tire was introduced last year for the exhibition race. The softer tires provided cars more grip and speed, providing lap times that were three to four-tenths of a second quicker compared to the “prime” tire.

But Stucker said that once the lights came on at Charlotte Motor Speedway, any advantage was nullified.

“I think it really lends itself to a race like the All-Star,” Stucker told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “I think there’s some real opportunities there. We all kind of figured last year we needed about three to four-tenths (of a second) between the prime tire and the option tire. That’s exactly what we had when we did back to backs in the daytime. But when the race came along and it cooled down, the cooler temperatures kind of leveled everything out. I think the difference between the prime and the option wasn’t big enough last year to overcome the aerodynamic advantage of a guy who was out front.”

Stucker also said there “probably also needs to be more of a penalty that you pay” or a “compromise” when the softer tire was used.

In the race, teams could put on the “option” tire at any point. But if they put them on before the final stage, they had to restart from the rear. All teams used their “option” tire before the final stage.

Stucker said the option tire could make a reappearance soon.

“I don’t think it’s a dead issue, we’ve talked about it a couple of different times,” Stucker said. “I’m sure we’ll talk about it over the course of 2018 and perhaps see it again in 2019.”

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