NASCAR introduced a different tire compound this season for its Monster Energy All-Star Race. It quickly became clear in Friday’s lone All-Star practice session that the so-called “option” tire is lightning fast.
Kyle Larson, who went for a spin early on, rebounded to set the pace in the session with a lap speed of 189.274 mph, running the option tire at the time. It’s slower than the 192+ mph Carl Edwards posted in last year’s practice but those “special” tires were still much faster than their counterparts.
The faster tire comes with a price, though. Teams who choose to use it in the final segment of tomorrow night’s All-Star event will start at the back of the 10-car pack for the final stage of the race. The extra speed also doesn’t last long. Lap speeds dropped by upwards of five mph after just four or five laps. So if anyone takes the option Saturday night, they’ll have to make their move quickly; otherwise, it probably won’t happen at all.
Teams also had a chance to practice entering pit road at speed in preparation for tonight’s qualifying session, which features a live pit stop. It proved difficult for some teams, including those of Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch. Hamlin scraped the wall in the No. 11 in turn 4 after what looked to be a tire issue; Busch looped his car in turns 3 and 4 while trying to set up his pit entrance.
Others had a problem simply finding pit road. Jimmie Johnson came within inches of going for a ride through the frontstretch grass when he missed pit road entrance. Harvick, meanwhile locked up his brakes in the pits and blew a tire. Several drivers had to abandon attempts to get onto pit road but were otherwise unscathed.
About the author
Amy is an 18-year veteran NASCAR writer and a five-time National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) writing award winner, including first place awards for both columns and race coverage. As well as serving as Photo Editor, Amy writes The Big 6 (Mondays) after every NASCAR Cup Series race. She can also be found filling in from time to time on The Frontstretch 5 (Wednesdays) and her monthly commentary Holding A Pretty Wheel (Thursdays). A New Hampshire native living in North Carolina, Amy’s work credits have extended everywhere from driver Kenny Wallace’s website to Athlon Sports. She can also be heard weekly as a panelist on the Hard Left Turn podcast that can be found on AccessWDUN.com's Around the Track page.