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!