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Mixed results for option tires: UPDATE

UPDATE: After an All-Star race that featured three lead changes in 70 laps, a senior NASCAR executive defended the rules package but conceded that the option tire "didn't make a huge impact.''

Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, told "The Morning Drive" on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that one race isn't going to lead to significant rule changes.

"Our job is to look at the whole year. If I reacted to every comment you had on Twitter, it would be very different. It's one of those things we've got to look at the overall picture, we've got to take the input from everybody in the industry and we do that. I think from a rules package standpoint we continue to see the sport moving in the right direction in terms of what we're seeing in competitiveness from different organizations. That's really how we judge it from an overall standpoint and not just one race.''

The three lead changes in the All-Star race were the fewest since 2007, although Saturday's race had the fewest laps (70) since that 2007 race, which was 80 laps.

Still, the hope was that there could be plenty of cars moving forward and backward with the use of a second tire compound, a softer compound. The goal was for the tire to be a few tenths quicker at the onset but wear more quickly than the regular tire.

"Goodyear delivered on exactly what we had asked,'' O'Donnell told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. "We wanted three to four-tenths on a tire and by the practice times and the early part of the race we saw that. Kudos to Goodyear. I think what you saw Saturday night was really the difference probably in the car versus the tire and maybe a need to go even further if you were going to pursue that avenue in terms of difference in speed. That's something we could look at for the future. Obviously you guys saw what I saw, it didn't make a huge impact.''

Asked if the option tire is something still on the table for future events, O'Donnell said: "I think so. I think you look at what may be the impact versus the car. I think the bigger thing is, when you look at tires in general, continuing to focus on rain tire, what should be our priority. There's talk, I don't want to tip the hand, but way down the future could you ever run Martinsville if the track was damp because Goodyear is able to, in terms of the speed, put something together.

-- NBC Sports --

Original post: 5-21-2017) At the end of the night the primary/option tire experiment in the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race provided mixed results and mixed reviews.

"It was a good try," Bowyer, driver of the #14 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing, said following his 13th-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "Track position is key and you try to do something to get track position and you don't have the upper hand."

Bowyer was impressive in winning the first stage of the Monster Energy Open to earn a berth in the All-Star Race. But crew chief Mike Bugarewicz saved the team's best move for the $1 million-to-win nightcap.

After putting on its lone set of option tires, which were softer and thus provided more grip and initial speed, after the first stage of the four-stage race, Bugarewicz called for a two-tire stop after the second stage.

Bowyer headed back out onto the track with the lead and with two different tire builds on his car. Green option tires still on the left and two fresh primary tires (with the yellow lettering) on the right.

The creativity failed to pay off. Bowyer dropped quickly once the stage began and within three laps was clinging to a top-10 spot. When the segment ended, he and Joey Logano (Team Penske Ford) had identical average finishing positions for the 10th and final spot to advance to the final round. Logano took the spot based on a higher finishing position in the third stage.

Keselowski failed to receive any benefit from the softer compound tires. During pit stops between the second and third stages, crew chief Paul Wolfe called his driver in for the switch to the option tires. However, Keselowski quickly returned to pit road for a possible lug nut issue. The crew changed all four tires, and because he had made two laps, although under yellow, with the option tires, the team could not put them back on the car.

Because they started at the back of the field, three of the four drivers transferring out of the Open - Daniel Suarez, Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney - started the All-Star Race on their option tires in order to try to improve track position.

Others changed after the first stage. And many more after the second. None of the 10 finalists, however, appeared to put the option tires on for the final 10-lap shootout.

Not surprisingly, race winner Kyle Busch admitted to being "a fan of it" when asked about having two tire combinations.

-- NASCAR.com --