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Posted by on Sep 12, 2019 in Ask the Insiders, Nascar |

Ask The Insiders Wednesday #42

Sep 23rd, 2009 by T.C.

One Chase race down, nine to go.  It’s Wednesday again, so if you’ve got questions, we try really hard to have answers.  If you don’t know what this post is, until further notice, we will be answering any and all reader questions every Wednesday, right here.  So if you’ve got one, click on the ”Ask the Insiders” tab at the top of the page and send one to us.  On to the questions…

1. From Pat:

Simple question: what tool do the pit crews typically use to pry the fenders up off the tire after contact? Is it just a pry bar or something more specialized? Thanks!

Teams use everything from their hands, to hammers and baseball bats, to specialized tools.  Roush has a fender rolling tool they developed some years back that some teams use. – T.C.

2. From Ric:

I have heard that the Michael Waltrip we see on TV is not the real Michael Waltrip. That he just plays the country boy / hick  / hillbilly /  country bumpkin /  image. Any truth to that? Are other drivers out there that are totally different on TV / in front of the fans, then they are in real life / behind the scenes?

I think to some extent the TV side of Michael you see isn’t real.  He’s not quite as funny and goofy as he’d like you to think he is.  And I think because of how corporate NASCAR has become, drivers are more polished when they are on TV and in front of the fans.  They are going to be a little different when they are just around friends or their teams and can loosen the collar a bit. – T.C.

3. From Matt:

What plans does Hendrick have for Landon Cassill? I thought he would have been a perfect driver for the 88 car in NW.

I honestly don’t know of any plans. I believe he is still doing testing for Hendrick and he is running some dirt modified races, but as far as next year goes, I haven’t heard anything. I too think Landon would have been a good candidate for that ride, but with Bires you get someone with a bit more experience and a little bit more assurance. – Journo

4. From Steve:

Each team has their tires for the race laid out in rows behind the pit box. Is there anything to this, are the tires in any particular order?  Or is a tire a tire?  And while I saw pressures being checked before the race, are pressures double checked just before they’re used?

Before the race, all sets of tires will be numbered and then will be used in the race according to a specific order.  The tire specialists will match tires according to stagger, and strategy will dictate which order the sets are used (for example, when to use stickers and when to use scuffs). – T.C.

5. From Kenny:

What do you hear about the #9’s engine? I kinda wonder if someone who was upset about the lay-off notices at RPM might have just forgotten to tighten a bolt, or fasten a nut…

We actually heard it was a broken crankshaft that did Kahne in. Honestly I can see where all the conspiracy theories are coming from, but it’s just not true. Not only would the sabotage have had to have been the greatest the sabotage ever (he makes it 66 laps, qualifying and several practice sessions?), but despite many of these guys probably losing their jobs at the end of the season, they are still looking at bonuses if Kahne wins the championship. In the end they would only be hurting themselves. I honestly believe it was nothing more than a coincidence. – Journo

6. From Amy:

My question revolves around Tony Stewart’s loose (broken?)  axle cap at Louden. One of the announcers said during the broadcast that they probably didn’t even need to bother to fix it? If that is they case why did the team take the time (losing positions) to fix the issue?

The rear axles actually have two caps.  The first is a flat cap that actually holds the axle in the tube.  The second cap screws to the first cap and is a cone shape.  It aids the tire carriers in indexing the new tires during pit stops.  The cap that gave Stewart trouble was the outer, cone shaped cap.  It sounded like the screws were not tightened properly and came loose.  Not fixing the loose cap wouldn’t have led to any mechanical failures, but it would have made subsequent pit stops very difficult for the rear tire carrier, probably resulting in slow pit stops. – T.C.

7. From Amy:

Here is another question I just thought of- this one is directed more towards T.C.  In the last two races, two different crew members have sustained hits on pit road during stops.  In this article on NASCAR.COM (http://www.nascar.com/2009/news/features/09/22/five.things.dwayne.moore.dreutimann/index.html) Dwayne Moore (hit by Tony Stewart at Richmond) mentions  that drivers who hit crew members should get penalized (he specifically mentions tail end). Do you think this is a good idea? When you are over the wall how much trust do you put in the drivers around your pitstall? Is there a way to make it safer?

It might not be a bad thing to consider.  If drivers knew they would be penalized for hitting a guy, they might be more careful.  But the problem is, is none of these incidents happen on purpose.  Drivers aren’t trying to hit guys.  These end up being wrong place, wrong time type of situations and there just isn’t enough time for either party to react quickly enough.  When I’m over the wall, I just have to hope that my guys around me will watch my back and that the drivers are paying attention.  But part of doing what we do is knowing that there is a chance you could get hit.  That is why we now wear firesuits and helmets. – T.C.

8. From Doug:

I feel the new restart rule in the cup series has had an unexpected fall out. It seems now since the lap down cars don’t get any air time (by starting on the inside of the front runners), that sponsors are pulling out and will continue to do so. Since NNWS has gone to this rule you’ll start seeing this trend also.

I’m not really sure what evidence there is of this. I can promise the recent announcements by Jack and Jim had nothing to do with the restart rule. Other than them, I can’t think of any sponsors at any level pulling out. The TV the back markers get really wasn’t all that great before the restart rule, and still remains not great. TV exposure while important, is not the only reason a company sponsors a Cup car though. I don’t think the restart rule has/will have any effect on sponsorships. – Journo

9. From red8814:

Hey TC, when a car ends up backwards in the pit like Ragan did this past weekend, are there any changes in who does what on the stop?  Also, can you extend our “get well soon!” thoughts to Clint Pittman?  You guys in the pits don’t get enough credit for everything you do in the middle of that chaos!

Teams will usually keep their positions, but the problem lies in the tires.  With fronts now in the rear, the rears now in the front, and the sides swapped, guys have to be real careful about knowing which tires they are putting on.  They end up needing to swap tires front to rear, and left to right. – T.C.

10. From ronfrankl via Twitter:

Which teams are likely to have sponsorship issues in the closing weeks of the season? Any teams that might fold?

None that I’m aware of before the end of the season. As far as next season goes, look to those teams, even individually within bigger organizations, that have lost sponsors or are having trouble finding sponsorship. Most of those problems are ones that have been well publicized. – Journo

11. From 4wide via Twitter:

With 5 tracks in the Chase that have lights, why only one Saturday night race and the rest on Sunday against the NFL?

I think this is simple. ABC needs something to go against the NFL on Sundays and they have NASCAR. While in a lot of situations the NFL game is going to do better than the NASCAR race, it will still give ABC a formidable NFL opponent. – Journo

And that brings yet another “Ask The Insiders Wednesday” to a close.  Thanks to everyone who sent in questions.  And remember, if you’d like to be a part of next week, click on the ”Ask the Insiders” tab at the top of the page and send your question in!

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Posted by on Sep 1, 2019 in Ask the Insiders, Nascar |

Ask The Insiders Wednesday #43

Sep 30th, 2009 by T.C.

It’s the last day of September, and fall is in the air.  The Cup and Nationwide teams take the fight to Kansas Speedway this week, but before they do, it’s question and answer time.  If you don’t know what this post is, until further notice, we will be answering any and all reader questions every Wednesday, right here.  So if you’ve got one, click on the ”Ask the Insiders” tab at the top of the page and send one to us.  On to the questions…

1. From Steve:

Re: RPM – Yates merger and the loss of Petty engine jobs.  Isn’t it likely that Yates is going to need to hire at least some more people – perhaps from the RPM engine shop – to handle the increased workload?

It’s possible. At the end of the day they’re only adding two teams though. That may or may not mean more positions at Roush-Yates. I would say even if there are new jobs it’s far from guaranteed someone from RPM would be hired for them, and even if they are I’m sure they would take a pay cut of some kind (which means they may not even be interested). – Journo

2. From Walt:

At the first of the year alot of the teams were having problems with the lug bolts because they were longer. How have the teams adjusted to this issue?

The tire changers have just gotten used to the new stud length.  It forces guys to slow down a bit, and it was just going to take some time for it to happen.  You’ve got to remember, some of these changers have been doing it this same way for five or ten years.  Changing the rhythm overnight was just not going to happen.  Plus, I believe NASCAR has relaxed the rule just a bit. – T.C.

3. From Larry:

Is their anything brewing, in the garage area, pertaining to Johnny Benson landing a ride and sponsorship, for 2010?

Yeah, as we reported a while ago the buzz is JB is heading to Kyle Busch’s potential new team next season. Ray Dunlap reported a couple weeks ago that he’s hearing Conway is a potential sponsor for the team. – Journo

4. From Dan:

Any idea how much a guy like Dave Blaney gets for qualifying and starting a “start and park” car? How are they looked upon from the rest of the teams? Is there an understanding they will stay out of the way as long as they’re on the track after the green flag waves?

A guy like Blaney probably gets a flat fee plus a percentage of the winnings, usually in the 20-40% range depending on the driver.  I can’t speak for everyone, but as long as a S&P doesn’t interfere with my team, I really don’t care.  I know NASCAR isn’t fond of them, and neither are teams that want to race but can’t out-qualify them.  Most of the S&P’ers do a decent job of staying out of the way.  But not always. – T.C.

5. From Martha:

Can you please tell when the 2009 Nascar Chase cup winner banquet will be held and shown on TV?  Date, time, and channel.  We missed it last year and we want to get it on the calendar for this year.  Thanks.

Unfortunately NASCAR hasn’t released a lot of information pertaining to the banquet. We know it’ll be on December 4th a the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, but other than that nothing. When it gets closer and we hear more about it, I’ll be sure to update you. – Journo

6. From Jeanette:

I noticed some time ago that Red Bull Racing has been very clever with the numbers on the car. Brian Vickers in the 83: Inside of the 3 is a sideways “V”! On the 99 Nationwide car of Scott Speed, the numbers look like “SS”. Any idea who was behind this hint of creativity? Team? Driver? Sponsors?

You know I’ve honestly never noticed that before. I don’t know if there is anything to that or if it’s just the script they use (it’s the same on all the cars) and it’s just a coincidence. Usually the designs for the cars come from the teams and are approved by the sponsors. In this case they’re one in the same. Sorry I can’t give you a more conclusive answer. – Journo

7. From Denny:

I have noticed most of the pit boxes have around three monitor screens on them. One looks to be the ABC TV-feed and where does the feed come from on the other couple of screens? One looks like the running order on the track, maybe?

Teams will usually have the live TV feed, timing and scoring, their various engineering programs, and views from the pit stop cameras available to view on the monitors on the pit box. – T.C.

8. From Lee:

I thought Hendrick always prides itself on their open book policy.  So why then is Johnson bragging about some small adjustment they made, when it seems the other Hendrick teams don’t know what that adjustment was. It’s from this articlehttp://sports.espn.go.com/rpm/nascar/cup/columns/story?columnist=newton_david&idE09691and the phrase below:

Those are pretty strong words from a driver considered to be one of the hardest workers in the garage. But Martin is right. While most were watching college football, gambling at the Dover Downs casino or sleeping Saturday night, Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus were looking for an edge.

Finally, as Johnson said, they “just hit something in my stomach.”

It was a small adjustment, one that made Johnson better in the corners. It turned into a huge advantage, one Johnson knew he had two laps into the race. Not even a new rear tire changer slowed the team.

A couple of things. Even if they did share whatever this minor adjustment was, there is no guarantee it would have done anything for the other teams. They’re all likely working with different setups, which means adjustments affect the cars in different ways. Remember too, all of these teams are running for a championship at this point, so you might not necessarily want to give away all your secrets. – Journo

9. From Phil:

Thanks for the opportunity to ask questions and get replies.  You guys are great!!!This weekend, the rain washed off the rubber at Dover before the race and had to be built back up. Can you explain how rubber on the track affects the cars. Does it increase or decrease grip? Increase or decrease tire wear? Does it make the car tight or loose? Does it make passing easier or harder? Sometimes it seems if it?s hot, the announcers say it makes the track greasy and slippery. Other times, if the track has no rubber, it seems like the announcers and drivers look forward to getting rubber build up. I?m totally confused!!!!!Incidentally, as a side story, my only experience with rubber on the track is walking on the track at Bristol before a race. I told my wife to climb to the top of the banking in turn 4 while I stood at the bottom to take her picture. She got up there but was afraid to walk back down for fear of falling so I had to walk up and hold her to walk back down. The rubber on the track was like walking in glue and I almost walked out of my shoe. We looked like total idots in front of 100,000 people!!!!

As a weekend rolls along, a track will get “rubbered in.”  The more laps that are run, the more rubber gets laid down.  How exactly the cars are affected by the rubber really depends on the track, the surface, the weather, and what tire compound the teams are using.  For maximum grip, there needs to be some level of rubber laid down.  Without it, you end up with situations like last year at the Brickyard.  A green race track will usually wear tires faster.  For a more detailed (and scientific) explanation of track surfaces and grip, check out this post. – T.C.

10. From windowlicker:

When the cars or trucks come in for a fuel only pit stop, they are told not to slide into the pits so as not to flat spot the tires. But when  they’re leaving the pit it seems they’re always spinning the tires & sometimes smoking them. Does this affect the grip in the rear tires at all,  especially if the tires are past due to have been changed?

I’m sure that some rubber is lost, but compared to what the tire goes through during a normal lap, I would imagine the amount isn’t significant.  If it was, you’d see crew chiefs instructing drivers to not spin their tires leaving the stall. – T.C.

And that brings yet another “Ask The Insiders Wednesday” to a close.  Thanks to everyone who sent in questions.  And remember, if you’d like to be a part of next week, click on the ”Ask the Insiders” tab at the top of the page and send your question in!

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Posted by on Aug 13, 2019 in Ask the Insiders, Nascar |

Ask The Insiders Wednesday #44

Oct 7th, 2009 by T.C.

We’ve got a short list of questions this week before the Cup and Nationwide Series head to California.  If you don’t know what this post is, until further notice, we will be answering any and all reader questions every Wednesday, right here.  So if you’ve got one, click on the ”Ask the Insiders” tab at the top of the page and send one to us.  On to the questions…

1. From Ed:

What do you think of this idea:  no pits stops during caution periods.  Some of the advantages I see are as follows.  Save money,teams will not be putting on tires at every caution even if not needed.  Safety,not as many cars on pit road.  Less caution flag laps,get the beer can off the track and go.  No waiting for the lap cars to pit.  Teams not getting screwed because a caution comes after they pit on green.  It would be interesting to watch how crew chiefs would manage the race.

Not to insult your plan, but I’m not a fan of it. I don’t really see how that saves money, but even if it does I like free reign pit stops. Part of what I like about NASCAR is all the strategy that goes into it. As much as it’s about the driver, in order to win races and perform well it’s about your entire crew. Limiting pit stops would limit the competition in my eyes and I don’t like that. – Journo

2. From Safemike1:

So how come Carl Long got a suspension and fine for having an engine displacement of 358.15 instead of 358, and Jimmy Johnson;s car is .006 out of line and no fine or suspension? Pretty much any car that is out of tolerances has been fined by NASCAR and given points loss or even probation.  Isn’t it time that NASCAR enforce the rules the same all across the board?

Listen I don’t want to speak for NASCAR’s decision making on issues like this (I wasn’t there), but NASCAR doesn’t do itself any favors when this stuff happens. And there are definitely a lot of folks in the garage who weren’t pleased with this. In NASCAR’s defense Carl Long was fined so heavily because he was found with an oversized engine. Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin were pushing it with their bodies and arguably within the tolerance. At the end of the day this is an area that everybody screws with. I’m not saying NASCAR was right or wrong with their decision, but I agree with you that when stuff like this happens it looks bad. – Journo

3. From Tom:

How are teams selected to test tires for Goodyear?  Sorry if this was asked before, I missed it..Thanks

Goodyear usually selects one representative from two to three manufacturers to participate in tests.  They try and do it on a rotating basis. – T.C.

4. From Kenny:

How much performance difference do you get from 4 fresh tires instead of 2? If you had two identical cars starting from the same position on the track, about how long would it take for the car with 4 fresh Goodyears to overtake the one which had only fresh right-sides?  The 14 took 2 on his last stop and still pulled away from the field at the end of the race at Kansas. If you don’t get that much more from 4, why not take 2 every other pit stop just to gain position? Take lefts only often enough to make sure you don’t get blow-outs.  I’m also wondering about sticker tires. I see all the side to side steering to warm up the tires after a round of pit stops during cautions and at the beginning of a race, so I wonder if you lose performance when you make a green-flag stop. Would NASCAR permit a back-marker team running laps for position to scuff sticker tires for other teams?

The effect of four tires versus two really depends on the track.  At a track like Darlington that is very hard on tires, you almost never see a team only take two.  There is no formula for how quickly a car with four fresh tires would overtake a car with two fresh tires.  Tony Stewart was able to stay out front on two tires at Kansas because of that infamous “clean air.”  Being mired back in traffic negates some of the benefits of four tires.  In regards to new tires after green flag stops, drivers know that it will take a few laps at speed for the temps to come up and for the tires to be at their best.  This really happens after all pit stops, not just green flag stops. – T.C.

5. From Rain:

During Sunday’s race, Brad K was told by NASCAR to drive less aggressively around the chasers.  It sort of angered me. Isn’t that his job??? To win a race?

I’m going to straddle the fence on this one. I understand where NASCAR is coming from because you don’t want Brad K. to wreck one of the Chasers and that to impact the championship. On the other side of things he’s out there to race hard and win. That is his job. I don’t think I personally have a good way to look at this situation, but I think you’re justified in being irritated, whatever that’s worth. Here’s a good back and forth about the incident on NASCAR.com. – Journo

6. From Karen:

What are pit officials looking for when tires are changed?  In other words, I can see that they could easily tell if a lugnut was dropped, but how do they know from a distance that one is loose?  Do they look different?   How can they tell something like that?  Is it an exact science or is it subjective?   (p.s. I bet you can guess why I’m asking that question.  I hate to see a good run – finally! – ruined by something like that, and I really don’t want to hear that it’s one of those judgement calls but I’m betting it is! LOL)

The officials are looking to see if all the lugnuts are on the studs.  The rule specifically says “all lugnuts must be installed before the car leaves the assigned pit box.”  I’m guessing you are referring to Dale Jr’s pit stop at Kansas, and it is my understanding that a lugnut was missing, not loose.  I’ve never heard of a team being penalized by NASCAR for a loose lugnut, because there is really no way for an official to tell if a lugnut is loose or tight. – T.C.

And that brings yet another “Ask The Insiders Wednesday” to a close.  Thanks to everyone who sent in questions.  And remember, if you’d like to be a part of next week, click on the ”Ask the Insiders” tab at the top of the page and send your question in!

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Posted by on Jul 28, 2019 in Ask the Insiders, Nascar |

Ask The Insiders Wednesday #45

Oct 14th, 2009 by T.C.

It’s a home game this week, as both the Nationwide and Cup cars take to the 1.5 mile Lowes Motor Speedway in Concord.  But while the season starts winding to a close, ATIW keeps chugging along.  If you don’t know what this post is, until further notice, we will be answering any and all reader questions every Wednesday, right here.  So if you’ve got one, click on the ”Ask the Insiders” tab at the top of the page and send one to us.  On to the questions…

1. From Justin:

Are wheels weighed by NASCAR? Never heard anything about teams lightening wheels so I’m assuming the answer is yes.

I’ve never seen a wheel weighed personally, but the rule book says they must weigh a minimum of 27 pounds uncoated and without valve hardware. – T.C.

2. From Ricky:

What really makes me mad is the fact that Dave Blaney is a great racer, and yet he drives a Start & Park car… I remember the spring race at Talladega where he led quite a few laps….and then he got spun out and parked it! I believe if he would have stayed out there he would have had a good chance at a good finish! I was so angered by the situation! The whole deal of Start and Parks angers me. If you are going to race in NASCAR’s top series, then race! Don’t go out and be whimps and park it. What do you think about this? How did you feel when Blaney put that car up front, then parked it just because of a lousy spin? I really thought that was a bonehead move… I am a big fan of Dave Blaney. Please help cool heads prevail and tell me… WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?!

The answer is they were taking the money and running. That’s the whole purpose of the start and parks. Instead of running the risk that they’ll wreck their equipment by running the whole race, they make a few laps and take the guaranteed money. For their intended purposes and the strength of their equipment it really wasn’t a bonehead move. Whether you agree with it or not, they’re becoming a fact of life. Trust me though, NASCAR is not a fan. – Journo

3. From Dot:

Regarding burning and scraping tires. How do you know when to stop scraping? What happens if you go to far?  Regarding loose/missing lugnuts.  If one is loose or missing (and missed by the official), wouldn’t the other ones hold the tire on?

Scraping a tire after a race run is done to get any excess rubber and garbage off the tread so an accurate tread depth reading can be made.  The tire specialist only scrapes that excess off.  I’m not even sure you could go too far and scrape any of the tread off.  And yes, if there are only four lugs tight they will probably hold the tire on for a while.  But would you really want to take the chance that they don’t hold?  I know I wouldn’t. – T.C.

4. From Jason:

What is the typical amount that a business pays to sponsor a truck in the Camping World Truck series?  I’ve read things like $20 – 30 million for Cup and $15 – 8 million for Nationwide. But I have never heard any number for the truck series. Thank you!

For a full season with a decent team you’re looking at $2 million to $5 million. As far as your Cup Series number goes, many are below that $20 million mark. – Journo

5. From David:

Why do the tires have red stripe on the side wall?

Tires have colored tape on the sidewalls for the tire carriers.  They use that mark to line up the stud holes when they are indexing a tire during a pit stop.  See more about this here. – T.C.

6. From PrincessStewart14:

It has been reported tonight, by Marty Smith, Jim Utter and Jeff Gluck to name a few, that Tom Logano had his hard card pulled for ‘gesturing at Greg Biffle postrace’ [via Marty Smith on Twitter] What are some other things NASCAR would take your hard card? Just what they would deem bad behaviour or harmful?

NASCAR could probably take a hard card for whatever reason they wanted.  Hard cards are technically owned by NASCAR, and they can use the taking of one as punishment.  I’m sure John Darby, Joe Balash, and/or Wayne Auton could probably answer this one better then I can. – T.C.

7. From Michael:

Whatever happened to Fatback Mcswain?

You know that’s a good question and one I don’t have an answer for. Does anyone know anything about Fatback’s whereabouts?

8. From Jeff in SoCal:

Ok so I have to say it! The Nationwide series race was way more entertaining than the Sprint cup race at Auto Club this week. What gives?  Also what would you guys do to tighten up the field in a very cool(love how huge it is), yet boring race track?

I think because we saw more cautions during the NNS race, the field was bunched up more.  When that happens, there is bound to be more side by side racing and more action.  Double file restarts have helped too.  And I have no idea how to fix the racing at Auto Club Speedway.  Maybe tear it down and start over again? – T.C.

9. From Stephen:

I listened to AJ Allmendinger’s post race interview with ESPN at California and to me it sounded like he was trying to throw someone under the bus for his lack of preformance, but he never really came out and said who.  I got the feeling that he was trying to say that Kahne gets the better engine’s. Do ya’ll have any insight on what  Allmendinger was trying to get at?

I’m not exactly sure what you’re referring to, but it’s very possible he was referring to the engine situation at RPM. With the trouble’s they’ve had of late, plus the move to Ford, it’s not doing him, or any other member of the team, any favors in the performance department. And certainly Kahne is going to get the best engines, he’s the only member of the team with a shot at the Championship. – Journo

10. From Ric:

I’ve seen drivers / crew / TV personalities put on and take off the steering wheel. It looks like they just throw it on, no trying to align anything. There must be something to slide the steering wheel into the correct spot.

The steering column has splines on it, and the wheel itself fits onto those splines and has a quick release.  Teams will help their driver line up the wheel prior to the race.  Sometimes you will see drivers pull to the inside during pace laps, and what you are seeing is them setting their wheel.  A tape mark at 12 o’clock tells a driver if the wheel is straight. – T.C.

11. From Neon:

Just as the drivers in Cup have their personal motorcoach delivered to each race, which of the crew chiefs have their motorcoach on the premises? Owners or other crew members?

Most owners have motorcoachs, some crew chiefs do and some team executives do to. Ultimately the guys most likely to have them are the ones who make the most money. You have to figure you’re probably spending $500,000+ on a coach, $30,000+ a year on a coach driver, and then thousands of dollars more on fuel, and upkeep. With the small number of spaces available it’s a pretty restrictive thing for those who are not drivers. – Journo

12. From Larry:

What does the announcement, by Con-way Freight, that they are moving to the Nationwide Series, with Colin Braun, do to the rumored sponsorship of Johnny Benson, in the Truck Series?

This means that Johnny won’t be sponsored by Conway. Beyond that I unfortunately can’t really offer any more insight into the situation. Does this mean Johnny won’t be back to the truck series next year? Absolutely not. Beyond the initial rumors of him going to Kyle Busch’s team next year though I really haven’t heard anything else. – Journo

And that brings yet another “Ask The Insiders Wednesday” to a close.  Thanks to everyone who sent in questions.  And remember, if you’d like to be a part of next week, click on the ”Ask the Insiders” tab at the top of the page and send your question in!

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Posted by on Jul 1, 2019 in Ask the Insiders, Nascar |

Ask The Insiders Wednesday #46

Oct 21st, 2009 by T.C.

We’ve got a good batch of questions for you this week, and many from some new names which is great to see!  Remember, there are no stupid questions here, and even if we’ve answered a question in the past, we will answer it again.  If you don’t know what this post is, until further notice, we will be answering any and all reader questions every Wednesday, right here.  So if you’ve got one, click on the ”Ask the Insiders” tab at the top of the page and send one to us.  On to the questions…

1. From Scott:

How are the rims handled in NASCAR?  Does Goodyear haul them from race to race?  If Goodyear always has the rims do they check them for damage and how are old and new rims rotated in and out of the line up?  Thanks, and I love your website!

A company called Champion Tire & Wheel hauls all of the wheels for the teams to the track, and they also store them and check them for damage before the races.  Champion also transports the pit boxes and some other equipment for most Cup teams and many of the Nationwide teams. – T.C.

2. From Donald:

What happend to Scott Riggs. I haven’t heard his name anywhere for the last 2 months.

As far as I know he’s out there looking, like a lot of other guys. I don’t really know anything specific, sorry. – Journo

3. From Sue:

Does NASCAR prior to qualifying ever check the fuel in the cars  to verify that additional additives such as more alcohol were not added by the teams?

If NASCAR wants a fuel sample, they usually do it after qualifying is over. – T.C.

4. From fanwanzabee:

Were there as many empty seats at Saturday’s race as it seemed to me watching on TV.  This is bad news for all,  When I go to a race, about half my money goes to other things than tickets.

Yes. I’m not good at estimating how many were in the crowd, but attendance was the worst I’ve ever seen at Lowes. Tom Sorenson at the Charlotte Observer wrote a little bit about it. This season has definitely been different. Charlotte in the last few years has been one of those tracks where you could get tickets up until race time, but the crowd has always been pretty good. It’ll be interesting to see how attendance does next season. – Journo

5. From Woogeroo:

With all the hullabaloo over consistent start times and things, I started wondering what exactly that meant. Talking heads start time? National Anthem singing? The fly over? Green flag waving? I miss the days when you turned on the race and they were on the parade lap. I’m glad NASCAR gets coverage and all, but jeez… I really only care about the race. -W

All that means is that the official start time will be standardized. That still means the race won’t start for 15-20 minutes after that “start time.”  – Journo

6. From Anonymous:

What is it that is making the 48 team so good? I do not believe Jimmie is a better driver than Tony, Jeff or even Carl and Kyle. It’s hard to believe other teams haven’t figured it out yet. Are the resources and “under the hood talent”  that much different between the A level teams??

Like I said in my post today, if I knew exactly what the answer to this question was, I’d be a rich man.  My guess is that it’s not necessarily that one of the parts is better, it’s that the sum of the parts is just a bit better.  Jimmie + Chad + Hendrick equipment + team 48 = success.  I promise you though, teams are working overtime trying to figure out how to beat the 48. – T.C.

7. From Ella:

I don’t understand how there can be such a difference in performance in COT cars from the same stable.  It is said that the crew chiefs share information among themselves but then you have Carl Edwards limping along while his teammates run much faster.  Same with Earnhardt and his team mates.  One would think there would be more parity.  What things make a difference?

You’ve got to remember that every driver wants their car setup differently.  What works for Jimmie Johnson might not necessarily work for the other three Hendrick drivers; and vice versa.  So copying the 48’s setup exactly won’t make Jeff Gordon run as good.  The teams share information, but drivers and crews need to know how to use and apply that information the best possible way to go fast.  And you also need to keep in mind that we are still very earlier in the life cycle of the COT.  Teams are still doing a ton of R&D to figure out what the car needs to be really good. – T.C.

8. From Big John:

Great site guys!  If a team picks up a new sponsor during a race weekend, is there a grafix company that travels the circuit that can make decals for the cars?

I don’t believe any of the graphics companies have a mobile operation, but I do believe that they will overnight decals to a track if they have enough warning.  If it’s too late for that, I’d imagine a team would have to track down somebody locally to get the printing done.  Maybe if somebody from TDS or Motorsports Designs reads our blog they could give us more details. – T.C.

9. From Ron:

We tend to take for granted improved safety in NASCAR, thanks to advancements like the COT, SAFER barrier, etc.  My question is, has any Cup driver missed seat time this season due to an injury received on the track?  I can’t recall any.

Not any Cup drivers. We’ve seen some pretty gnarly wrecks, but thankfully, thanks in large part to these safer features, no one has been seriously injured. Off track is a different story. Turns out walking on your dock and playing Frisbee is more dangerous than driving a stock car.  – Journo

10. From Roger:

Todays post about the #48 got me thinking a little about cautions that are called. Sometimes (especially late in a race), a caution will come out for debris which turns out to be a water bottle, obviously thrown out of one of the cars.  A situation like this usually ends up with 3 to 5 laps under the yellow and everyone (who wants to) pitting. This changes the strategy and dynamics of the race and could be blamed on a driver (at least in my mind!)  Why does NASCAR treat an obvious and possibly planned strategy as it does? In my opinion, they should check/clear the track as necessary and get back to racing with the pits closed all the time during that yellow.

Unless there is video of a driver doing something blatant, there really is no way to know where debris came from.  It could have been a water bottle out of the stands.  I know in the past drivers have tried to tear off pieces of roll bar padding and throw them out windows to cause a caution.  Sometimes they got away with it, and sometimes they got caught.  Wasn’t it Carl Edwards that got busted a few years ago for this?  Either way, I don’t think NASCAR is going to start saying which caution periods you can and can’t pit during.  If they did, people would probably start saying that NASCAR was only allowing teams to pit during a certain caution because it benefited a Dale Jr. or a Jimmie Johnson. -T.C.

11. From Ben:

Now that the #48 and #5 have passed NASCAR extended tech inspection 3 weeks in a row has Jack Roush backed off on his “Hendrick is cheating” rant.  Reminds me his “Tiregate” accusations…

Jack Roush is a little like Felix Sabates. He likes to open his mouth from time to time and complain or just say generally outlandish things. He’s Jack Roush though and he can get away with it. – Journo

12. From Chris:

If JPM were to win the Championship would this give F1 fans bigger egos about being better drivers?

I don’t think so. I think it would be a testament to Juan’s talent though. – Journo

And that brings yet another “Ask The Insiders Wednesday” to a close.  Thanks to everyone who sent in questions.  And remember, if you’d like to be a part of next week, click on the ”Ask the Insiders” tab at the top of the page and send your question in!

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Posted by on Jun 23, 2019 in Ask the Insiders, Nascar |

Ask The Insiders Wednesday #47

Oct 28th, 2009 by T.C.

Apparently everyone is in a question asking mood, because we have (I believe) the largest ATIW post ever.  So we’ll just get right to it.  If you don’t know what this post is, until further notice, we will be answering any and all reader questions every Wednesday, right here.  So if you’ve got one, click on the ”Ask the Insiders” tab at the top of the page and send one to us.  On to the questions…

1. From Patrick:

This popped up the other day when I was watching Happy Hour, the #38 team was having trouble with the placement of pedals, specifically the steering column rubbing against the brake. It got me to wondering, how closely – if at all – does NASCAR monitor seat placement? By moving the seat a few inches around it seems teams could change the cars balance. Is there a mandated location for the seat?

NASCAR mandates how the seats are built and also how they are mounted, but there really isn’t a whole lot in the rulebook about where the seat is mounted.  It would be tough for NASCAR to do, because every driver is a different size and they all have certain preferences for seat placement due to comfort. – T.C.

2. From Steve:

As to the difference between the 48 and the 24, during an episode of NASCAR Now, one of the panelists said a difference between Jimmy Johnson and Jeff Gordon is that Gordon steers (or maybe it was drives) with the steering wheel while Johnson prefers to use the gas pedal.  First, please explain the difference.  Second, why and when would there be an advantage to one style over the other?  Is there something about the COT that makes it more amenable to Johnson’s style?

Often times guys that came up on asphalt will do more with the wheel, and guys that came up on dirt will do more with the throttle.  On dirt, car control is based off throttle modulation because for so much of the track the car is in a slide.  Drivers can’t do a whole lot with the wheel in a slide.  These types of drivers who control the car with throttle are successful with the COT because the only way to be fast is to set the car up loose.  This certainly isn’t a rule, but it is very common. – T.C.

3. From Tom:

Hey guys, I’m a relatively new NASCAR fan watching from the UK. I was wondering if you could answer a quick question. I watch a lot of F1 and while the casual observer might think that the cars all look the same, they are actually all different and with different engines etc. How does this work in NASCAR…obviously there are different manufacturers, but it also seems like different teams using the same manufacturer have different cars. Is this correct? And what does the Car of Tomorrow actually mean?

First, there are some small differences between the cars, but not many.  The chassis for the COTs are all generally the same.  The bodies have some minor differences, and the engines differ between manufacturers.  Nobody uses different models within the same manufacturer.  The Dodge is a Charger, the Chevrolet an Impala, the Ford a Fusion, and the Toyota a Camry.  A few years back, Cup cars resembled what is currently used in the Nationwide Series.  After a few driver deaths, in order to improve safety, NASCAR redesigned the Cup cars and this new version is referred to as the COT (or Car of Tomorrow). – T.C.

4. From Thomas:

I just read an interview with Jimmie Spencer & Kyle Petty & they both blame the COT and it being so sensitive that a 1/8″ change will mess it up.  However, every week we hear Knaus talk about “we kept making changes till we got it better.”  How can #48 make all these changes & the others cannot?  I think it is because JJ wants a very loose car which gives them more leeway for changes. HHmmmmm!!!

They’re certainly a lot more sensitive, but there are a lot of different changes that can be made in different areas. Certainly Chad Knaus isn’t the only one playing with the car; everyone is doing it. He’s just having a little more success with it than other teams, so he and the #48 are the ones that get talked about.- Journo

5. From Barry:

Any news on where Bobby Labonte might end up next yr?
And, any news on the state of Motorsports Authentics? Will they stave off bankruptcy?

Bobby’s been rumored to TRG and EGR. TRG has actually expressed interest in him, and I do know he was talked about for the #1 car. I don’t think the #1 car is as likely as TRG though. As far Motorsports Authentics goes, I haven’t heard anything more since their SEC filing a couple of weeks ago. They’re in trouble whatever the case. With NASCAR looking to combine licensing efforts, it’ll be interesting to see what happens there. – Journo

6. From Savannah:

Hey guys!  How closely does NASCAR monitor the driving history & violations of drivers off the track?  Can a driver face disciplinary action by NASCAR if they have too many speeding tickets?  In the recent Michael Waltrip accident, the police reported alcohol was a contributing factor in the wreck, although Waltrip was barely under  the legal limit.  Would NASCAR force him into rehab since this does cause some embarrassment for the sport (and it is not his first accident- the telephone pole incident of 2007)?  Driving drunk or buzzed is something that is totally avoidable and just plain stupid, especially when you are a high profile person.   Kurt Busch was sidelined by Roush for just being issued a ticket.  I can’t wait to hear what excuse Waltrip’s camp will issue after this latest incident.  I hope that all drivers will take notice and be sure to have a sober driver behind the wheel after they have been partying/drinking/ carousing.

I can’t think off the top of my head of a situation where this has happened, but I would guess NASCAR would be inclined to dole out a penalty if a driver were legally drunk and driving. Remember Waltrip was within the law. In the situation of Kurt Busch the incident occurred at the end of the season, one in which Kurt was jumping ship and he was not well liked around Roush. It wasn’t a difficult decision for them to suspend him for the remainder of the season. Obviously I contradict myself because NASCAR didn’t do anything with Kurt Busch, but I would guess they could slap a driver with “actions detrimental” if they wanted. I agree with you though, this situation should be an eye-opener. – Journo

7. From Tom:

Why do the NNS cars look so jacked up on one side when looking at them from the rear?

It’s the way the bodies are hung on them.  In order to take full advantage of the aerodynamics of the cars and the spoilers, the teams twist the bodies.  That way, when the cars are in the corner, they are getting maximum downforce, and hopefully maximum grip.  I’m not an aerodynamics expert, but the idea is to get the spoiler as far out into the air as possible when the car is in yaw. – T.C.

8. From Woogeroo:

Howdy folks.  At each race weekend, is the same pace car used?  Does each series have it’s own or is it a track by track deal the track operators have with whatever manufacturer?

It depends on the contract the track has. For instance Martinsville is a Toyota track while I believe Homestead is a Ford track. – Journo

9. From Marc:

With Silly Season in full swing, I am trying to get a handle on who controls the points in some of the top-35-points-related team “mergers” from this past year.  I assume, for example, that Penske will keep control the points of the 77 team, having “acquired” the 2008 points from Bill Davis and his old 22 team.  And, Childress will keep the points from the 33 (which got the 2008 points of the old 01 team).  But, what about the 34 team?  Will Front Row Motorsports keep the points for the team or do they go back to DEI/EGR?  Will Yates keep the points from the 96 team or will they go wherever HOF racing partners next year? Does JTG Daugherty keep the 47’s points they got from the old 00 points through a “technical alliance” with MWR?  I have not seen press about contractual situations surrounding these deals and was hoping you guys knew something more.  Thanks for all of the great work here.

The points will remain with the organizations that purchased them. They’ll just roll over to next season. Remember they more or less bought a position in the top-35, but the points they have amassed over the season are theirs. In the case of HOF, I don’t believe Yates ever actually owned the points, so those will likely remain with HOF; that was just a technical alliance. – Journo

10. From Allen:

I’ve been to many races and always notice on the flag stand they hang a black, white, and orange box on the side of the flag stand before each race, any idea what that is for?

What I believe you are referring to is the display NASCAR hangs from the flag stand to be used when a car is black flagged.  When this happens, NASCAR will wave the black flag at the car as it passes, announce it over their radio frequency, and post the car’s number on this display.  You will sometimes hear this referred to as a team was “posted.” – T.C.

11. From Kim:

I heard something odd during the telecast from Martinsville. It looked like Johnson was speeding on pit road, as he came out of his box; I distinctly heard an announcer (DJ?) mention something about an “average” on pit road, that there are eight timing sections and that you can actually go OVER pit road speed as long as when you hit one of the speed lines, you are going the correct speed (I hope I’m describing it correctly). My friend heard it, too and we were aghast as we had never heard that pit road speeding penalties were based on an “average”. The same term was used again later in the race. Is this true or did I hallucinate/misunderstand he comment?

As I understand it (and I may be wrong) NASCAR uses the scoring loops on pit road to measure how long it takes a car to travel through that specific segment.  It has nothing to do with a measured speed.  With some simple math, NASCAR can figure out how long it will take a car to travel through the segment within the legal speed limits.  What teams have started figuring out, is that they can pick certain pit boxes on pit road, depending on the placement of the loops, and actually speed.  It allows the drivers to be able to speed into their pit boxes, and out of them; before they cross the next scoring loop.  They can do this, because that measured time between loops will be much greater because of the time it takes to complete the pit stop.  Hopefully that makes sense. – T.C.

12. From Robyn:

If the 4 car limit only for the Cup Series?  If not, why does Roush keep saying that they will run 5 Nationwide cars in 2010?  What does NASCAR (or those in the garage) think about teams (especially in NW), for all intents, selling thier owner points for a race?

There is no car limit in the Nationwide Series. So Roush (or any other organizations) could have as many teams as they want. As far as I know NASCAR doesn’t have any problems with the teams selling their points. In some situations, it means they’ll have fewer start and parks, so I would imagine they’re fine with it. – Journo

13. From Dan:

Wow! Are we seeing the birth of a new “Intimidator”? Sounds as if JPM has some people worried. Gordon’s comments after the race got my attention and Chad Knaus cautioned his driver of Montoya’s antics during the race. Maybe this just what NASCAR needs to fill all those empty seats on race day. Your thoughts.

I think JPM certainly has that killer spirit. Part of the mystique of Dale Earnhardt and part of his role as the intimidator though was his success, which Montoya hasn’t had. Drivers knew they were going to have a fight on their hands with him in the rear view mirror, I don’t think Montoya is there yet. Certainly he has a ton of potential and the other drivers are starting to take notice, but I think he has a ways to go before we can say we have a new intimidator. – Journo

14. From Amy:

Approximately how many helmets does a driver go through in a given season? What about the crew?

Unless a helmet is damaged in an incident, they don’t usually need to be replaced.  Drivers will usually have multiple helmets because of different sponsor commitments and paint schemes.  The same goes for pit crew guys.  I’ve been using the same helmet(s) all season. – T.C.

15. From Ric:

How much notice does the crew need for various changes; Air Pressure, Wedge, Track Bar, Spring Rubber, etc.

Not much, unfortunately.  Air pressure changes probably need the most warning, because the tire guy needs to run around and change the pressures before the tires can be taken over the wall.  Wedge and track bar adjustments can be called pretty late before the car enters the stall, as long as the crew guys have enough time to grab wrenches.  Spring rubbers can be called late, but usually there is plenty of warning because they take more time to get out.  A spring rubber, because of the weight of the adjustment usually isn’t called last minute. – T.C.

16. From Ric:

When drivers help anther driver (debris on a radiator, lead a lap, push from behind, drafting, etc) is this $$$, kindness of their heart, instructions from the boss (same team), other?

Most of the time you’ll only see teammates letting each other lead laps or helping with debris. I guess in rare circumstances a driver who is friendly with another driver might be willing to help him out when it comes to debris (an if you scratch my back, i’ll scratch your’s situation). As far as drafting goes, that is something that just happens out on track. A driver might be more reluctant to draft with certain guys, but it’s not like letting a guy lead or helping him with debris. – Journo

17. From Jeff in SoCal:

What can we expect to see from the new Ford engine being ran by Roush Fenway at Talladega next week? Do you guys think it is going to be a major improvement?

I’m sure the new Ford engine probably makes better numbers, but don’t expect to see a huge improvement over the previous version.  Doug Yates and his guys do a good job, but they aren’t going to magically find huge numbers.  The rules haven’t changed for engines. – T.C.

18. From Carole:

Jr had 3 flat tires and brake problems this weekend.  My husband says he probably unconsciously rides the brake with his left foot.  What do you think was his problem?

From what I know about the situation, Jr. told Lance McGrew several times that he was not riding the brakes.  He usually runs very good at Martinsville, and you don’t do that unless you know how to take care of your brakes.  Plus, I don’t believe Jr. is a left foot braker, which can often lead to a driver riding the brakes because they rest their foot on the pedal. – T.C.

19. From Amy:

Wow…I am totally shocked about Steve Addington being relieved of his crew chief position for Kyle Busch.  Yeah Kyle hasn’t had the best of seasons this year…but seems to me all drivers have the occasional crappy season.  Why replace Addington? Any thoughts?

I can’t say I’m surprised they made this decision, but I also can’t say it’s something I would have done. It’s hard to reconcile removing the guy who led your driver to 12 wins over two seasons. That said I think the issue here comes down to consistency, something Kyle has struggled with, even while having a lot of success. Obviously the folks at Gibbs think Dave Rogers will do a better job of achieving that consistency than Addington. Time will tell. – Journo

20. From bb:

Hi Guys.  Firstly, your website is a great combination of information, news and editorial content that has a lot more meaningful depth than most others, so please don’t change it too much…….Second, I was wondering what the feeling in the garage is about the future/stability of MWR. Will they be likely to get sponsorship to be able to run the 00 full time? It seems like they are pretty close to breaking through to being able to field contending cars on a consistent basis. Also, does a full time nationwide ride for Mikey look likely?

Well thank you. I think Waltrip is in just as good a shape as any other organization. Certainly sponsorship is difficult to come by, but RCR, EGR, Hendrick all have (or have had) sponsorship issues going into next season. As far as Reutimann goes, I don’t think you have to worry about him running a part time schedule next season. I’m sure they’ll fill the gaps, which I believe is somewhere around 12 races. I haven’t heard anything more about Michael in the Nationwide Series next season. Like anything I’m sure that’ll be determined on whether or not they can secure funding for a team. – Journo

21. From Robyn:

Looking at the other competition caution – the one called for before the race begins.  This past week when it rained in Martinsville, I don’t recall a competition caution being called for the truck race.  That series raced on a green track.  I don’t recall hearing about rain on Saturday night, so there was rubber on the track.  Why was there a planned competition caution in the Cup race (Waltrip negated it with his lap 40-something spin)?  These teams are supposed to be the best of the best.  They should know how their tires will wear without making a race run, which some teams did on Friday anyway.

The only thing I can think of here, is that NASCAR was concerned because the Cup cars hadn’t been on track since Friday.  Other than that, I’m not really sure what to tell you.  In any case though, it’s usually better to be safe then sorry. – T.C.

22. From Harold:

Are the tires used in NASCAR races provides free or do they have to pay for them?

Teams technically lease tires for competition, and they are not free.  They cost about $1,500 a set. – T.C.

And that brings yet another “Ask The Insiders Wednesday” to a close.  Thanks to everyone who sent in questions.  And remember, if you’d like to be a part of next week, click on the ”Ask the Insiders” tab at the top of the page and send your question in!

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