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Vegas race will have cars with smaller fuel cells

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR will use a smaller fuel cell and a different tire compound for the Nextel Cup and Busch races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway March 10-11.

"We decided to go with a 13-gallon fuel tank for Las Vegas," said Pemberton. "We discussed it with Goodyear and felt we have the potential for some of the same issues we had at the Charlotte track last year."

The fuel cell this season for most races holds 17.5 gallons. Using a smaller fuel cell will cause the teams to pit at shorter intervals, enabling crew members to check tire wear and make changes frequently, if needed.

NASCAR officials were concerned with tire wear last year at Lowe's Motor Speedway after the surface was repaved, which added additional grip.

The Las Vegas track was completely rebuilt in the offseason, adding increased banking to the new surface. Cup teams tested at the 1.5-mile two weeks ago and the Busch teams were there last week.

Some drivers complained about the speeds the cars were reaching on the new asphalt, along with the hardness of the tires.

"Goodyear has decided to change the left-side compound [at Las Vegas] and maybe a construction that is different from the tests," Pemberton said. "As we go into the day and age with new pavement, the surface is a little too abrasive right off. We just need one race under our belts. We have to get a little time on the racetrack."

Daytona tires likely to remain same
After the Bud Shootout Saturday night, some of the Nextel Cup drivers voiced concerns over the new tire NASCAR is using this year at Daytona. Cars were sliding through the turns because the teams struggled with handling setups.

But Pemberton said Sunday he doesn't think the situation requires a tire change before next weekend's Daytona 500.

"Always when you come to Daytona for the first week or two, it takes a while for the racetrack to get rubbered in," Pemberton said. "This tire is a little bit different compound than we race in the last 500-mile race here. I'm confident teams will make some adjustments and get the handling back."

Pemberton said NASCAR is using a harder Goodyear tire than was used for last year's Daytona 500 because the cars have a larger fuel cell this season.

"We were using the 13-gallon fuel cell here last year," Pemberton said. "Now we have the 18-gallon fuel cell, so we figured we would put more margin in."

The larger fuel cells means the teams can go longer without pitting, which puts more wear on the tires.

Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at terry@blountspeak.com.