Race Weekend Central

Monday Morning Pit Box: Red Option Tires the Right Choice at the All-Star Race

Joey Logano dominated the field Sunday night (May 19), leading all but one lap to pick up the second All-Star Race win of his Cup Series career and become a million dollars richer at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

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Joey Logano Leads All But 1 Lap in Dominant All-Star Victory

Pit strategy significantly shaped the outcome at North Wilkesboro, more specifically a shake-up in tire strategy. Here is how the race unfolded on pit road during NASCAR’s All-Star night.

A Tale of Two Tires

For the All-Star Race, NASCAR added an additional wrinkle to pit strategy by offering teams two different types of Goodyear tires for the 200-lap event. First, there was the yellow-lettered “primary” tire, the usual tire that teams use in points-paying races. Then, there was the red-lettered “option” tire, made out of a softer compound that allows for faster lap times.

The difference between the two tires was on full display after an early caution on lap 2, brought out for contact between Kyle Busch and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in turn 1. The yellow flag led to a rush onto pit road, with teams swapping out the red option tires they started the race on for yellow primary tires. Meanwhile, five drivers — Logano, Chris Buescher, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney and Tyler Reddick — stayed out on the softer red tires to lead the field on the lap 11 restart.

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As the long green flag run unfolded, it became clear that the softer tire compound held up better than the teams previously anticipated. When the competition caution came out on lap 100, the five teams that stayed on the red option tires maintained the top four spots on the racetrack, with Christopher Bell being the only driver on yellow primary tires in the top five in fifth.

Sure enough, when the field came down pit road for their mandatory four-tire pit stop under caution, all but two teams affixed fresh red option tires to their car. By the end of the race, every car on the lead lap was running on the softer tire compound.

No. 20 Team Wins Pit Crew Challenge

All 17 teams locked into the All-Star Race prior to the Open participated in the Mechanix Pit Crew Challenge as part of qualifying.

Bell’s No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing crew, led by crew chief Adam Stevens, topped the chart with a cumulative pit stop time of 13.22 seconds. The total time included Bell’s entry into the pit stall from the previous pit road timing loop, the four-tire stop by the crew and Bell’s exit from the pit stall to the next timing loop on pit road.

The No. 20 team eked out the win over the No. 6 RFK Racing crew that clocked in at a 13.323-second total pit stop time. The No. 12 Penske Racing team, No. 1 Trackhouse Racing team and the No. 22 Penske team finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Pit Crew Challenge.

With the win, the No. 20 pit crew pocketed a hefty $100,000 bonus and successfully defended its Pit Crew Challenge crown from 2023, when it was pitting the No. 54 JGR Toyota for Ty Gibbs.

“Honestly, it just kind of proves how special we know our team is.” No. 20 tire carrier Jake Holmes said about the win to Frontstretch‘s Chase Folsom. “It’s surreal, still hasn’t really kicked in, but man it feels really special to go back-to-back, that’s for sure.”

Look Ahead to Next Week

The drivers of the NASCAR Cup Series will go from the short All-Star Race to the longest race of the year: the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Green flag is scheduled for 6 p.m., and coverage will be provided by FOX Sports.

Endurance will be the key factor not just for the drivers, but also the cars and the pit crews. Whichever team holds up the best through 400 laps and 600 miles will have a great chance to pull into victory lane and pick up a win in one of NASCAR’s crown jewel races.

About the author

Andrew Stoddard joined Frontstretch in May of 2022 as an iRacing contributor. He is a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College, the University of Richmond, and VCU. He works as an athletic communications specialist at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va.

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How is it that NASCAR is so good at screwing up a good idea? Why would they have two tires and not require the teams to use both of them at some point during the race? If both compounds needed to be used then it would have required a little more strategy on the part of the teams and drivers.

And Goodyear’s secondary tire should have been designed to have far more fall off them it did. I found it pretty funny that the booth kept barking about how the primary was going to be better after 75 laps, but it never was.

Last edited 23 days ago by gbvette62
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