NASCAR will experiment with different tire compounds for the first time at All-Star Race

NORTH WILKESBORO, NORTH CAROLINA - MAY 21: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 Chevrolet, and Daniel Suarez, driver of the #99 Trackhouse Motorplex Chevrolet, lead the field during the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway on May 21, 2023 in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

NASCAR will use its exhibition All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway in May to test out different tire compounds.

There will be three different tires used throughout the event weekend— a “prime tire” (the baseline tire assessed in last month’s Goodyear Tire Test at North Wilkesboro Speedway), an “option tire” (slick tires, but made with the same rubber as the wet weather tire, making it a softer tire with more grip and faster wear) and “wet weather” (the wet weather tire only used if the track is wet). The ‘Goodyear Eagle’ lettering will be yellow on the prime tires, red on the option tires, and white on the wet weather tires.

NASCAR has used the event to experiment in the past including the use of a choose cone that was later adopted across all three of its top touring series.

The tire experiment was part of an announcement Tuesday night outlining the format of this year’s event scheduled at the historic speedway on May 19.

NASCAR moved the event to North Wilkesboro Speedway last year and the heat races featured the first use of wet weather tires as light showers fell early in the event.

The track, which was a staple on the NASCAR circuit until 1996, was repaved earlier this year.  As for the race itself, the simplified format will return this season. There will be two heat races to set the All-Star Race starting lineup, a 100-lap All-Star Open, and a 200-lap main event. In addition to the tire element, other new features include a new Qualifying / Pit Crew Challenge format and pitting requirements.

Saturday’s All-Star Open will give drivers who are not guaranteed a spot in the main event a chance to race their way into the All-Star Race. The 100-lap Open will have an All-Star caution at Lap 50, at which time teams must perform a four-tire pit stop. At the end, three Open drivers will advance to the All-Star Race – the top two race finishers and the Fan Vote Winner. NASCAR All-Star Race Fan Voting is now open on

The pit crew with the fastest stop during the All-Star qualifying attempt (no penalties) is the winner of the Pit Crew Challenge. Timing lines are established one box behind and one box ahead of the NASCAR designated pit stop boxes. Pit Crew Challenge results will determine pit picking order.

Saturday night will feature two 60-lap heat races that will determine the starting lineup for the All-Star Race among drivers already locked into the field. There will be an All-Star caution at lap 30 of each heat race; teams must perform a four-tire pit stop. The results of Heat 1 will establish the inside row, and the results of Heat 2 will establish the outside row. The action-packed weekend will conclude Sunday night with the All-Star Open and All-Star Race.

“This format will challenge drivers, crew chiefs and pit crews from Friday through Sunday, and strategy will play a huge part in who takes home the $1 million prize,” said Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith. “The All-Star Race has always been a place for innovation, from its very creation in 1985 to racing under the lights, unique paint schemes and double-file restarts. Now we have an old-school, short track format developed by Dale Jr. plus a new twist on tires courtesy of NASCAR and Goodyear. Kevin Harvick gave great input on stepping up the impact of qualifying. Throw it all together at North Wilkesboro and we’ve got something special for the 40th running of the NASCAR All-Star Race.”

The particulars on the tires:

  • Teams will be allotted nine sets of tires for the event weekend.
  • For practice, qualifying, the heat races, and the Open, teams will be allotted three sets of prime tires and two sets of option tires.
  • For the All-Star Race, teams will have two sets each of primes and options.
  • All four tires on the car must be of the same type at all times.
  • Only the prime tire will be used during both qualifying sessions.
  • For practice, the heat races, and the NASCAR All-Star Open, teams will have the option to start on any type of tire.
  • All teams will start on the option tire for the All-Star Race.

“The emphasis on tire strategy and returning to an old-school qualifying approach are both great moves to give the entire weekend more impact,” said Kevin Harvick, who will call his first NASCAR All-Star Race for FOX Sports. “Being able to walk away from qualifying with both a Pit Crew Challenge champion and a locked-in pole winner elevates the event for both the fans and the teams.”

Both the Prime and Option tires came out of a Goodyear tire test on the recently repaved North Wilkesboro Speedway on March 12-13.  Teams participating in that test were the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (Ty Gibbs), Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet (William Byron) and Penske Racing Ford (Joey Logano).

“At our North Wilkesboro test, there was significantly more lap-time fall-off with what has become the Option tire than we had with the Prime,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing.  “We have been working very hard on our short track tire package and we wanted to evaluate something that is more aggressive.  The All-Star race format, in a non-points setting, is the perfect opportunity to do that.”

NASCAR has set the rules for when the Option can or must be run.  Cup teams will have three sets of Primes and two sets of Options for practice/qualifying/heats or Open.  For the 200-lap All-Star main event only, teams will have an additional two sets of Primes and two sets of Options.

“NASCAR has decided that all teams will start the All-Star race on the Option tire and based on what we saw at the test, a tire change will be needed within the first 100 laps,” said Stucker.  “Tire management will be key to going as deep as possible in that first run.  Tire wear, and by extension tire management, makes for great racing by creating fall-off and putting more of an emphasis on a driver’s ability to be easier on their tires early in a run and then being able to pass more cars late.”

Drivers eligible for the NASCAR All-Star Race include those who’ve won a points event in either 2023 or 2024, drivers who’ve won a NASCAR All-Star Race and compete fulltime, and drivers who’ve won a NASCAR Cup Series championship and compete fulltime.

Drivers who have already clinched an All-Star Race spot include: AJ Allmendinger, Christopher Bell, Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher, Kyle Busch, William Byron, Ross Chastain, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Michael McDowell, Tyler Reddick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Daniel Suárez, Martin Truex Jr., and Shane van Gisbergen.

“After a successful return to North Wilkesboro Speedway last season, we are thrilled to bring the action back to one of NASCAR’s most iconic and storied tracks,” said John Probst, NASCAR Senior Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer. “The spotlight will certainly be on the crew chiefs and drivers as they plan their tire strategy for this special race. In testing, the softer tires were significantly faster — but wore much quicker. Goodyear has been an incredible partner in this All-Star element, and it will be fascinating to watch how crew chiefs and drivers manage this unique challenge.”


Greg Engle