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Toby's Take: Multiple Tire Compounds; Repaved Surface; A Right Hook

Sunday's All-Star Race at Wilkesboro was a bit of a dud, but there were plenty of things to talk about after the race including the repaved track surface, tire compounds, a fight, and the local Wilkes County community banding together.


hero image for Toby's Take: Multiple Tire Compounds; Repaved Surface; A Right Hook

Of all the NASCAR All-Star Races I've seen, Sunday night's at North Wilkesboro Speedway was certainly one of them. Ultimately, the box score shows a Joey Logano runaway win, as Logano led 199 of the 200 laps in the race, but a Lap 2 crash, a post-race fight, a new track surface, and multiple tire compounds give us plenty to digest after what on the surface seemed like a subpar race.

Let's start with North Wilkesboro Speedway's repave.

The weekend started with claims that the track surface was already peeling up, and as NASCAR Cup Series drivers inspected the track for the first time on Friday, there was a noticeable thick patch in the center of the racing groove in the turns.

It looked like we were in trouble.


Photo Credit: RFK Racing

But then drivers got a chance to get on track, and what they found out was that Speedway Motorsports had done an incredible job of mixing a porous aggregate asphalt that allowed the fresh repave to produce multiple racing grooves and side-by-side racing. And despite being a fresh repave, the track has a myriad of bumps and trouble spots. It's not a smooth-as-glass surface, as we have seen with many track repaves over the years.

Seeing firsthand how the North Wilkesboro repave turned out is encouraging as it looks like we have the official answer on how to make sure a track doesn't have horrible racing in the few years right after a repave. While one guy led almost every lap of the race, there was substantially more side-by-side racing at North Wilkesboro this year.

So, that is an encouraging takeaway from this weekend.

While the track surface was given a thumbs up by competitors, the multiple tire compounds from Goodyear weren't as effective as hoped or expected, and in the end the Prime/Option tire strategy never really panned out in Sunday's All-Star Race.

The softer option tire was easily able to last 100 laps in the race without giving much more than a few tenths of a second over the long run, where initially, it was expected that the softer Option tire would be much faster than the Prime tire (it was), the tire was expected to severely wear at around the 30-40 lap mark, which would then give the drivers on the Prime tire the advantage.

While that was the case in practice, as Martin Truex Jr. cautioned on Saturday, that probably wouldn't be the case as teams got a chance to make adjustments to their cars to counteract the tire wearing out.

The tire compounds weren't effective this weekend, but I hope the idea isn't scrapped for future use. If Goodyear can come back with a more aggressive Option tire, which wears out quicker, I think the multiple tire compounds could truly be a fun addition to the NASCAR race weekends.

And it has the potential to improve the short track racing product down the line. There just has to be enough difference between the two tire compounds, and this time around -- like the last time the idea was tried in 2017 -- that wasn't the case.

And how about the post-race fight between Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kyle Busch? The scuffle provided fireworks off of the track on a night where there were very few fireworks on the track.

Stenhouse was sent head-first into the outside wall by Busch on Lap 2 of the All-Star Race Main Event after Busch felt he had been roughed up by Stenhouse on Lap 1. However, upon review of the tape, it looked like Busch actually caught the wall, and the skidded down the track into Stenhouse afterward.

After being taken out of the race by Busch, Stenhouse drove his car and parked it in Busch's pit stall. He then exited his car, climbed atop the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing team's pit box, and told Busch's crew chief Randall Burnett to let Busch know that he would be waiting for him after the race.

With no infield exit tunnel at North Wilkesboro Speedway, Stenhouse was forced to stew about his early exit from the race. And as Busch climbed from his car at the end of the race, he was wisked away from the scene by NASCAR security and with the NASCAR Media Corps, myself included, in tow, Busch walked back to his No. 8 team hauler and was met by Stenhouse, who was ready to talk, and as it turns out, fight.

The two drivers argued about what transpired on track, and after they couldn't come to an agreement that satisfied Stenhouse, the driver of the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing machine reached back and delivered a right hand to Busch. It was chaos from there.

Fighting is rarely the answer, and when you see the scrum that broke out after the punch was landed, you realize someone could have seriously been injured. But what Stenhouse accomplished with the punch was drawing a line in the sand for any competitor that thinks it will simply be accepted to boot him on purpose on Lap 2 of a race.

Drivers will most certainly have the picture of Busch being clocked by Stenhouse on their mind as they are debating how to get around Stenhouse, at least in the very near future. There will likely be penalties of some kind announced following the fight, most likely monetary fines for the drivers, but for Stenhouse, I think the fine will be well worth it for him to gain the mental edge on his competitors in close-quarters situations.

Kudos to North Wilkesboro Speedway and the Local Community

While we're all talking about the fight between Stenhouse and Busch today, I would be remiss if I didn't give credit to Speedway Motorsports, North Wilkesboro Speedway, and the local community in Wilkes County, North Carolina for lending hands to the race track after severe rain flooded the race track on Saturday afternoon.

Five inches of rain fell within 90 minutes at the facility on Saturday, and with how the track slopes, all of that water ended up flowing to a stop on pit road. Water rose to roughly two and a half feet deep in certain places on pit road.

As NASCAR teams worked to waterproof their cars and trucks in an effort to minimize damage, damage was being done to the grass parking lots around the historic 0.625-mile short track.

With an estimation of 40-percent of the on-site parking being completely unusable, Speedway Motorsports contacted a local quarry, and were able to obtain tons of rocks to use as gravel along the muddy pathways around the grounds of North Wilkesboro Speedway.

With the help of a local Boy Scouts Chapter lending buses, as well as local businesses and schools lending off-site parking lots, North Wilkesboro Speedway was able to park fans and run shuttles to and from the track to minimize the amount of parking needed to be utilized at the track itself on race day.

It was a complete team effort, and as a result of so many people pulling in so many different directions to make it all happen, Sunday's All-Star Race from a parking perspective went off without a hitch.

Photo Credit: James Gilbert/Getty Images

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