My 33.5" tires on 16x10" cast aluminum wheels are quite a bit lighter than my 33" tires on 15x10" steel wheels.
But, the FORGED wheels are lighter than the cast ones.
If you want light, forged aluminum.
If you want strength, steel.
But, as a 4x4 magazine showed, unless you're planning on running with NO tires whatsoever, you're really not gonna break any wheel.
And, for drag racing, you want a totally different tire/wheel setup than you want for road or circle track racing. Everyone knows that the fastest things on the quarter mile all have huge flexy wrinkle-wall tires. That works.
Cornering is different. Having too much sidewall flex causes the tread to roll under the wheel, and you start running up on the sidewall. New 18x8.5 forged wheels can be as light as about 17 or 18 pounds. Light enough? The only thing you are giving up with a short sidewall is ride, and resistance to damaging your wheels.
I'm pretty sure Busch and Cup cars would handle better with 16 or 17" wheels, but they've stuck to the "stock car" size 15" wheels/tires for tradition. Though, since most of the car bodies they style theirs after, have stock 16 and 17" wheels, they should probably move up in size eventually.
Since they are "stock cars". Uh, right.
I've confirmed some of my suspicions with a co-worker who actually does road racing in his Evo. No, stop. Not a riced out evo, a real, performance-only, built inside-and-out, Evo. And he'* had other vehicles that he'* done performance mods, too, Mustangs, Jeeps, etc... so he'* got a well-rounded background.
Now, if you're talking about tires from 5-10 years ago, then yea, maybe the real-short sidewalls weren't handling as good back then, but tire tech has changed apleanty in the past few years. You can get a tire with a UTOG rating of 420/A/A, or even as much as 500/A/A, back in the mid 90'*, I was happy to get a mid-performance tire with a 320/A/B rating. Treadwear is up, heat dissipation is up, wet traction is up, dry traction is up. Pretty amazing stuff, since it'* still made out of rubber.