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Next month, Richmond Raceway will host a NASCAR Cup Series race using different tire compounds.

While the approval committee has not yet communicated the rules to the teams, orders have already been placed for the option tires, which will be used alongside the main compound at the event on August 10 and 11 on the short track in Virginia.

This Federate Auto Parts 400 uses the same combination used in the All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway, consisting of the primary left D-5208 and right D-5220 and the optional left D-5224 and right D-5226.

Unlike the freshly paved Wilkesboro circuit, Richmond is the toughest short track on the program and will present an interesting challenge for the crew chiefs, as the option tire should allow for more speed but also a greater differential.

However, it is also a night race and that concept was scuttled both times it was used due to nighttime conditions at both the 2017 All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway and at Wilkesboro in May.

Regardless, crew chiefs like Chris Gabehart of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team support the idea and praise both NASCAR and Goodyear for their efforts to improve short track racing with the seventh-generation platform.

“I mean, first of all, I applaud them for trying,” Gabehart told Sportsnaut over the weekend. “I think it’s a good place to try it. It’s not in the playoffs, so a regular-season race is the next logical step to try something like that. …

“I’ve found from track testing at Richmond over the last few years that the surface responds very well to these types of changes. However, as we’ve all learned, it deteriorates considerably after that, so I think the racing could be quite interesting.”

The best thing about this concept – especially in a race that often features long green flag laps and is much longer than the 200-lap All-Star Race – is that NASCAR gives teams complete control over when to change tires.

From that perspective, it could be similar to the spring race in Bristol that pushed the industry in this direction in the first place. That pleases Cliff Daniels, crew chief of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team.

“I don’t expect them to control when you put the (option tires) on, so I think that’s interesting because everybody could end up doing something different, which I think would be great,” Daniels said. “But there’s also the possibility that we all end up playing the same cards at the same time, but the fact that NASCAR is willing to give us the option tire and leave it open, I think it could create a lot of excitement with the fans.”

The obvious question is whether the optional tyre makes any sense at all, given that Richmond is known for gobbling up tyres anyway, will this tyre even last long enough to be worthwhile in terms of a green flag race?

This was made clear by Rodney Childers, crew chief of Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4.

“I don’t think you can really put them on and go very far,” Childers said. “There’s going to have to be a situation where we’re at the end of the stage and there’s 15 laps to go, so we say, ‘Let’s put these on,’ and maybe try to save them for the end of the race, get a caution with eight laps to go, screw them on and be hella fast to the end.”

Childers wonders if the option tires will even last 20 laps before the carcass fibers are completely worn through.

This was also confirmed by Mike Kelley of the JTG Daugherty No. 47 team.

“It just depends on how short a distance you need it for,” Kelley said. “The other tire drops so much that I don’t know if I’ll ever need a tire that aggressive there unless it’s a really short distance.”

Kelley has heard that NASCAR will allow teams to use two sets of the option tires for this race. Like every other weekend, he has some concerns about the data he will have access to compared to teams with Tier 1 affiliations and how that could really challenge his approach.

But he also likes the idea from a conceptual and racing entertainment perspective.

“I think it’s good that they’re trying,” Kelley said. “I have no problem with it at all. I think our short track package still needs to be reworked. I don’t think tires are always the solution. We saw in Iowa that depending on the track, you can still have some fun racing with the asphalt direction or the resin, but I don’t know if that’s the solution for all tracks.”

Gabehart continues to drum up support for a long-term increase in horsepower or a reduction in tire width.

“It’s the horsepower to grip ratio,” Ganehart said. “And if we’re not working on the horsepower, we need to work on our grip.”

“Interestingly, what we’re doing and what we’ve seen in North Wilkesboro is actually we’re putting more footing in the hopes that it will drop off more, and that’s not the case in Wilkesboro. So that’s only beneficial if (the primaries) actually drop off more than the option.

“One difficulty we didn’t see in Wilkesboro is that you have to do (both) at times. You don’t have a choice. So even if the (options) are magical, there’s going to be a difficulty in when you use them that we didn’t see in Wilkesboro.

“So I applaud them for trying things. We need to see them being aggressive. I still think we need to consider tire width and reducing contact, again we need to work on the grip ratio side of the equation, but I applaud NASCAR and Goodyear continuing to be aggressive.”

Not knowing that Gabehart had said this over the weekend, Daniels also gave him credit for being so vocal about the horsepower-to-grip ratio discussion.

“I think Chris Gabehart said it very well: the cars just have too much grip and too little power,” said Daniels. “So how do you solve this?

“Certainly it’s an interesting way to add a high-adhesion tire with a little less grip. But at the end of the day, if we had a smaller tire footprint or a higher horsepower footprint, we would be pushing the limits of the tire, which is not where we are at the moment.”

Chris Rice, president of Kaulig Racing and experienced crew chief, believes Richmond is the best place for it.

“It (option tire) is going to drop off massively,” Rice said. “If you put that tire on and it stays green for a long time, you can either split the stage and pit once or twice, so I’m excited.”

“I have been a vocal advocate for a generally softer tyre and am glad we are trying it.”

Rice would go one step further.

“Give us the daggoon “We want rain tires too and we run that tire once per race, no matter what we have, because it has no variance,” he said. “If we get a caution with 10 seconds to go, give the crew chiefs the opportunity, the option to run the prime or a rain tire. They’re much smarter than me. Let them do it.”

First, small steps, starting next month in Richmond.