Two Options for One Million Dollars

NASCAR

For the first time teams will have a choice of tires with Goodyear supplying two options. (Photo: Getty Images)

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See Also: Waltrip Shakes Down 'Option' All-Star Tires | Charlotte Schedule

There’s a new twist to Saturday night’s Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The annual non-points event will again be broken into four segments for a total of 70 laps, with three 20-lap stages leading to a final 10-lap dash to the checkered flag for 10 cars. At the end of the rainbow is a cool $1 million payday.

But for the first time, teams will have a choice of tires with Goodyear supplying two options. Each team will have three sets of "prime" tires with an additional "optional" set of softer tires to use at their discretion. The added wrinkle has brought an air of mystery to Saturday night’s event.

"We’ll have a set in practice and that will allow the team to adjust to the car according to that set, or find out that it’s not that much of an advantage," Kurt Busch said about the tire decision. "That makes it much more fun - going into a race where there’s a million bucks on the line, no points, and the format is crisp and clean. If these tires go, I’ll run them all 70 laps."

When to use the tires will depend on each driver’s scenario throughout the night according to Matt Kenseth’s crew chief, Jason Ratcliff.

"If you need a stage win or if you don’t think your average finish is going to be good enough to move on, teams may opt to use that one softer set of tires," Ratcliff said. "If you use the soft set of tires for the final segment, you'll (have to) start at the back of the field."

Saturday’s race will be the last All-Star go-around for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who will retire at season’s end. He won the race in 2000 and has always considered that a highlight of his career.

"As a kid watching this race and watching my father run it, hearing him talk about it and explain how important it was to him, what it meant to him and how hard he tried to win it, that really cemented in my mind what it means to the sport," Earnhardt said.

He's not won a race yet in the first 11 points-paying events of 2017, and would like to have his final All-Star Race end in Victory Lane.

"It stands alone and has a special meaning, and I’m going to miss the process of the All-Star Weekend - the build-up to the race, the preparation, the practice, all the scheming in the garage and the strategies. They change the format every year so it’s somewhat new," Earnhardt said. "There's a lot of pride to be in this race and I’ll miss that feeling of accomplishment.

"They're going to have a soft tire, which should be interesting to see just how much better that is and whether that's really going to make a difference versus the guys that are on a hard tire."

Motor Racing Network - "The Voice of NASCAR" will have live coverage of Saturday's Monster Energy All-Star Race, beginning at 5:30 p.m. (ET) - with live streaming at MRN.com and on the MRN App.

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