Teams will have a choice of tires during 2017 All Star Race.
NASCAR and Charlotte Motor Speedway announced the format for the May 20 race on Tuesday. The 70-lap race will be divided into four segments (20, 20, 20, 10) and teams will get one set of softer tires to choose during any of the race’s four stages. The softer tires will conceivably have more grip, and thus more speed.
If a team decides to use the softer tires for the final stage of the race, it has to start at the back of the pack for the last 10 laps.
But “back of the pack” isn’t as far back as it could be. Only 10 drivers will make it to the final stage of the race. The winners of the first three stages are guaranteed entry to the final stage — assuming they stay on the lead lap — and the rest of the field of 10 is determined via the drivers with the highest average finishes in the first three stages.
The softer tire is designed for varying strategies over the final 10 laps of the race and it’s conceivable that a team or two could try them to start the race and win the first stage to guarantee an appearance in the final stage.
But it’s also safe to assume that multiple top teams will save their tires for the final segment, meaning that the highest-starting car with soft tires for the final 10 laps could start fifth or sixth. If that happens, the All-Star Race could look a lot like previous races.
Drivers eligible for the All-Star Race are all those who have won a race in 2016 or 2017, previous All-Star Race winners and former Cup Series champions competing full-time in the series and as many as four competitors from the qualifying race held before the All-Star Race. The open race, which features all drivers not meeting the first two criteria above, is three stages of 20, 20 and 10 laps. Drivers who win a stage in the open race advance and so does a driver from the race who wins a fan vote.
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