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NASCAR updates tire transfer policy

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NASCAR has issued an update to its rulebook regarding the transfer of tires between teams during a race.

New tires may now be transferred between teams twice in a given race, but only if the second team that possessed the tires retires from the race due to an incident or mechanical issues.

Scuffed tires can only be transferred once.

Crew chiefs good with NASCAR seizing their tires during race

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JOLIET, Ill. – It might mark the first time it happened in a blue tent on national TV, but checking tires in a Cup race was deemed normal by those affected Sunday.

NASCAR confiscated the tires of Kyle Busch and Martin Truex after pit stops in the second stage of the 2017 playoff opener at Chicagoland Speedway (video above). There apparently were no problems found with the tires, which seemed to have been submerged in a dunk tank to check for holes.

Busch’s No. 18 Toyota led 85 of the first 87 laps, and Truex’s No. 78 led 77 laps, including the final 55.

“They do that a lot,” said Adam Stevens, crew chief for Busch. “If you’re leading laps and running up front, they do that a couple of times a weekend. It’s pretty normal. They take them from somebody every week. Somebody’s out there leading laps and pulling away, they’ll take your tires to make sure they’re not leaking air in some way.”

Cole Pearn, crew chief for Truex, estimated his team’s tires probably were seized a half-dozen times this season and 15 times last year.

“Usually when you’re running good, they’re going to come take them,” Pearn said. “That’s fine. They’re just doing their due diligence, doing what they should be doing. No issue there.”

What seemed unusual this time was the blue tent. When NASCAR checks tires during a race, it often is done in a Goodyear building on site. Sometimes, tires are confiscated after a race and sent for independent review (which happened after the March 22, 2015 race at Fontana, Calif., resulting in a major penalty for Ryan Newman’s team).

Stevens said teams are able to see the dunk tank used by NASCAR at many tracks.

“It is not uncommon at all (to check), and as a competitor, I appreciate that they do,” Stevens said. “Because without them checking, somebody would be tempted to pull some of those old-school moves.”

In a tweet Sunday, Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, stated how many times series officials have checked tires in the Cup and Xfinity Series this season:

Kasey Kahne starting from rear at Bristol after tire change

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BRISTOL, Tennessee – Kasey Kahne will start from the rear of tonight’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol after changing a flat right-rear tire.

NASCAR requires teams to start a race on the tires they qualified on. Only the flat tire was changed.

The tire change negates Kahne qualifying third for tonight’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBC). It was his best qualifying effort of the season.

Kahne’s previous best qualifying spot was fourth for the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona.

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NASCAR counters Brad Keselowski comment about ‘made up’ tire rule

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CONCORD, N.C. — Brad Keselowski tweeted after Saturday night’s Monster Energy All-Star Race that NASCAR “made up” a rule regarding the use of special soft “option” tires during the exhibition race.

But the rule that kept the No. 2 team from executing its tire strategy and ultimately ended Keselowski’s chances of winning the race was in black and white: it was listed on the race’s entry blank for drivers and teams.

NASCAR told NBC Sports the rule read as, “One (1) set of ‘Soft’ tires will be available for each team to use at their discretion during the Monster Energy All-Star Race. When choosing to put on ‘Soft’ tires it MUST be a full set of ‘Soft’ sticker tires.”

Following the end of the second stage of the exhibition race, Keselowski’s team elected to use its set of option tires for the third 20-lap stage.

According to Team Penske’s post-race report, Keselowski pitted a second time under caution because of loose lug nuts. Crew chief Paul Wolfe then ordered the team to put the “primary” tires back on Keselowski’s car. The team hoped to save the tires for the final 10-lap stage, when Keselowski would have to start from the rear of the field.

But with Keselowski’s laps on the “option” tires, the stickers had been burned off.

Keselowski was forced to run the rest of the event on the primary tires. He finished eighth in the third stage and advanced to the final round. Keselowksi did not pit during the break after the third stage and restarted first. Kyle Busch started behind Keselowski and with fresher tires was able to pass him for the lead on the first lap.

Keselowski finished the night in ninth.

NASCAR Sprint Cup, Xfinity teams have new tire combination for Auto Club

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In the wake of some driver criticism last season, Goodyear will bring a new tire combination for Sprint Cup and Xfinity teams this weekend at Auto Club Speedway.

Compared with the compound used at the Fontana, Calif., track in 2014, Goodyear said the left-side tire has a slight construction and compound change to increase grip. Goodyear was criticized after last year’s race by drivers, but NASCAR stated the tire manufacturer was not to blame for the failures. More than a dozen drivers encountered tire problems, including a string of failures in the final 10 laps.

Goodyear held a tire test last Oct. 28-29 at Auto Club Speedway with Trevor Bayne, Kyle Larson, Brian Vickers and Martin Truex Jr.

NASCAR requires teams use inner liners on all four tires at tracks longer than a mile.

NASCAR will give Sprint Cup teams five sets of tires for practice and qualifying and 12 for Sunday’s race. Xfinity teams are allowed eight sets for their event.