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Posted by on Dec 15, 2018 in Ask the Insiders, Nascar |

Ask The Insiders Wednesday #135

It’s an off week for the Cup Series, but never fear, there is still plenty of NASCAR action on tap for the weekend.  The Trucks and Nationwide cars are off to tackle the concrete of Nashville Superspeedway on Friday and Saturday night.  While you work through another week, here’s another round of reader questions and answers.  If you don’t know what this post is, we answer 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 Chris:

I have been watching NASCAR for several years now and I notice that certain tracks (mostly intermediate tracks) seem boring and allow the cars to get spread out. I just went to the Kentucky race and it is one of the tracks I am talking about. I’ve never seen a good race there, in any of the series. So…is it really the track style that promotes the cars getting spread out? And why? Or is it something else. Whatever it is, I don’t like it!

Yes, it is absolutely the track style that causes the spread out racing.  Usually on these types of tracks, there is plenty of room to race thanks to the track’s length and width.  Multiple grooves mean drivers can race from the top to the bottom, and race side by side with less danger of crashing.  Drivers don’t need to root each other up out of the groove to pass.  Wide tracks mean long green flag runs, and spread out fields. – T.C.

2. From Neon:

TC and Journo-I wanted to give you a full week to ponder this question. Speaking from your “insider’s” perspective, can both of you list some items (both technical and non-technical) within NASCAR racing as a whole that you feel could or should be changed, or left alone for that fact? Maybe they are to benefit the fans, or NASCAR, or you personally as your livelihood is within the industry. TNI’s version of the fan council if you will. You have the floor…

Hmmm… I think a lot is going well right now. As with everything I think there could be more transparency for the benefit of fans; it would be great to see cars that looked a little prettier; and it would be nice to see NASCAR making more changes for the benefit of racing and fans, instead of the benefit of their bottom line (cough, Indianapolis, cough). – Journo

This is going to sound totally self serving, but I wish NASCAR and the broadcast partners did more to promote the crew guys.  There are so many great stories in the garage area and up and down pit road that could be shared.  I feel like NASCAR is missing out on a solid opportunity to add compelling content to the broadcasts by overlooking the crew guys.  I also think we should bring back the old way of fueling the cars.  Bring back the old cans and let the catch can guys get back at it.  The fuel is too much of a question mark right now, and I think it’s taken away some of the competitiveness from pit road.  I agree with Journo that the cars need to keep evolving into a more stock look, and I think NASCAR needs to significantly improve their online offerings.  RaceBuddy needs to exist for all events, and things like streaming race replays and more video are desperately needed. – T.C.

3. From Anthony:

Just read the question about fueling a car on a right side tire change pit stop made me think of this question when a car is jacked up on the right side and being fueled from the left side which would be the lower side, seams that then the fuel cell would not be able to be completely filled because of it being higher on the right side, or is the fuel cell designed to be filled cpmpletely even at a angle?

I believe you would be right.  The cells fill from the middle, so if the car were left jacked up on the right side, I don’t believe it would be possible to get it completely full.  Usually though, if a team is going to do just right side tires and a full load of fuel, you’ll see the jack man lower the jack on the right side so as to get the car completely full. – T.C.

4. From James:

Do tire changers “specialize” in being front or rear on a team or do they change up from race to race?

For the most part, yes, the changers stay where they are each week.  There are plenty of guys up and down pit road that can do both front and rear, but unless there is some problem that needs to be addressed, guys won’t just switch.  Rear guys stay on the rear and front guys stay on the front. – T.C.

5. From Michael in SoCal:

Hi Insiders. Quick question about the Camping World Truck Series – how feasible would it be to make the trucks all-weather vehicles, so that they could race in the rain? I noticed that the in the British Pickup Truck racing series, the racetrucks have rear safety lights, windshield wipers and rain tires to allow rain racing. I thought this would make for an interesting element for the series, although the high number of rookies who race in the NCWTS might make this improbable. Thanks for all the great insight.

Hi Michael! NASCAR has repeatedly proven the feasibility of running stock cars in the rain on road courses which is almost exclusively what the UK Pickup Truck Series races on (the exception being their Rockingham). The problem is, the racing isn’t very good when we’ve run races in the rain – on top of that is the issue of running rain tires on ovals, which is exclusively what the trucks run. – Journo

6. From Christopher:

I have been watching racing for my whole life and I am still in awe of how good these drivers, crews and cars are. So often, lap times for a majority of the field are within tenths or hundreths of a second. I realize that drivers have different attributes and prefer different set-ups, but where would you say the biggest differences come in: the cars or the drivers? For example, if you look at different teams, you see sometimes big disparities in performance on a weekly basis: Busch and Logano, Johnson and Earhardt Jr., Harvick and Burton, etc. So I ask that in conjunction with this: What aspects of a team do drivers look at when they are changing teams? As always, thanks guys!

At the sport’s best teams, it’s a combination of a lot of things. The driver, the equipment, the crew chief, etc. Gibbs is a perfect example – Kyle Busch is winning because (1) Kyle is a great driver, (2) he has a good crew chief, and (3) and he’s in good equipment. Joey Logano also has (1) good equipment and (2) a good crew chief, but he’s less experienced than Kyle and is therefore not as dominate (certainly that could change). Drivers consider the above criteria when making a move, but team stability, sponsorship and money certainly play a role too. Drivers want to be competitive, want to win races and championships, but they, like any of us, want to make money too. – Journo

7. From Michael in SoCal:

Hi Guys. So it seemed Jamie McMurray didn’t have a functioning radio during Sunday’s race, hence his crew guys making a sign late in the race telling him to ‘Save Gas’. I thought you had to have a functioning radio so that you can communicate with (or at least hear) your spotter. Why was the #1 allowed to remain on the track without a working radio? Thanks.

NASCAR does require teams to have working radios, but I’m not sure if it was just that they couldn’t hear McMurray, or if neither side could hear the other. I will say if NASCAR thought it was an issue, McMurray would have been black flagged. – Journo

8. From Chris:

The 88 was penalized for a tire violation and sent to the end of the longest line during the last caution period at New Hampshire. the only thing i saw was one of the crew guys fall on a tire while it was still in the pit box while the care left, is that the violation? or did i miss something? thanks! love your site, you guys do a great service answering these questions!

Thanks Chris! According to the rule the tire has to be halfway back to pit wall when the car leaves the stall. Since the crew member tripped over the tire it was technically in violation of the rule. It’s one of those things that is at the discretion of the official, but rules are rules. – 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 Nov 5, 2018 in Ask the Insiders, Nascar |

Ask The Insiders Wednesday #86

Road racing returns this weekend as the Cup and NNS cars head up to Watkins Glen.  While they are turning left and right, and doing backwards pit stops, the truck series takes on the Nashville Superspeedway.  As we work through another week, here are more reader questions and answers.  If you don’t know what this post is, we answer 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 Garry:

How often do you AND your driver practice the exact routine of the car pulling in and out of the pit stall? How many times does it take to be perfect? When you are working with a new driver or at a tougher track (like Bristol) do they allow you extra time to practice a lot? Is it true that “pit mates” (drivers in ajoining pit stalls) try to coordinate their stops, to stay out of each other’s way? It seems so many things can go wrong. Do you have any good stories about bad blood rivals who are battling and then winding up next to each other? ( e.g if Horse face and lil Brad wound up next to each other. It might make things interesting)

You won’t find most drivers at the shop driving the pit stop car for practice.  Some teams will use their development drivers or just a shop guy to do the driving.  Once most guys get to a certain point in their career, practicing getting into and out of the pit stall just isn’t necessary I guess.  And the only real example of a track that sticks out where we might do some extra practice is for this weekend’s race at Watkins Glen because the pit stops are backwards.  Other then that, the rest of the tracks get the same amount of prep usually.  In terms of pit road neighbors, you try as much as you can to coordinate stops, but often it just isn’t possible.  The hope is that the guys around you are either on a different lap or fall out early, so your driver has a clean path in and out.  And there are plenty of times where teams end up pitting next to each other and things get ugly.  There have been instances where crew members have thrown lugnuts and other objects at an opposing driver as they come by, pit boards have been hit by drivers, there have been plenty of shoving matches, and there is always going to be a ton of yelling when things go south. – T.C.

2. From Bill:

Why not let the cars that make the chase all race together and have another race for the other cars. Nascar asks the other cars to move over and not race the chase cars. This makes for poor racing and the other cars cannot win.

I’m not really sure what the question is here, but NASCAR doesn’t ask other cars to roll over for the Chasers. In fact Jamie McMurray, a non-chaser, won the race at Talladega during the Chase last season. – Journo

3. From Michael:

Regarding Tool sponsorship. Mac, Snap-On, Craftsman, etc. Are the tools given to the teams, discounted, or on loan? Or is each team contract different with each vendor?

The contracts can be different, but for the big teams, when the team itself needs tools, they are usually given or highly discounted.  Remember though, the guys who work in the shop use their own tools and must pay for all of their own equipment.  With the shop guys, they are usually given a discount, but nothing is free. – T.C.

4. From Marty:

After watching the wide array of tire strategies at Pocono I offer you this question… Has anyone ever taken 3 tires in a pit stop? How about just 1 tire?

Not that I’ve ever heard of.  Getting one tire takes the same amount of time as it does to get two, as does the time for three versus four.  So it wouldn’t really make sense.  Plus, it would give the car really odd handling characteristics to have grip at one corner, but not the others. – T.C.

5. From Jackie:

On Sunday’s race, I noticed that start and park teams would come in and then go back out on the track – Why? Do they not want to be listed as last or are they trying to better their position? At what point in the race do the start and park teams say enough is enough and call it a race?

Most are trying to just be able to finish a little better.  Remember most don’t have pit crews, so if they are going to run longer then a tire/fuel run, they’ve got to do something to change tires and add fuel.  A few minutes in the garage can do the trick.  And the agendas will vary by team.  Some of the bare bones operations will just run a few laps because they are fine with last place money.  Others might be attempting to make more money, and score more points, so they may stay out longer. – T.C.

6. From Debbie:

While watching the Pocono race a driver, I want to say Denny Hamlin, but don’t quote me on that, said his tires were over rotating. How can that be and what does that mean? Thanks!

I’ve never heard a driver say his tires were over-rotating.  I have heard them say that about their car though.  If a car is over rotating, it just means it’s loose in the corners. – T.C.

7. From Kevin:

First off, the 48 dumped the 2. Everybody who has ever watched a race with bump drafting knows you dont do it unless your wheels are straight. The 48 was turning left the entire time and clearly turned the 2. No question about it. Kurt should have gone and kicked some ass. I am sure he will in coming weeks. Secondly, how great was the racing at the end of the race? For about 20-40 laps there we saw some of the best racing of the season. All through the pack. I am so tired of the people complaining, if they didn’t like the racing right after the rain stoppage then they should just quit watching, b/c it won’t get much better. Finally, do you think the recent success of two tire stops is due to the flat nature of the last two tracks? I imagine someone taking two tires at say, Vegas, will suffer a lot more due to the speed all the way around the track. I do enjoy the mixing of strategies though.

To your first point, I don’t think Jimmie dumped him, I think Jimmie got sloppy and made a poor decision. To your second point, I couldn’t agree more. I think we have had stellar racing this season. And to your last point, the two tire strategy works when everything comes together right. Certainly tire wear is a factor, but how many laps are left, who took four versus two, and how many all  play a role. It has played a role the last two weeks. – Journo

8. From steve:

Any idea what was going on with Brian Pattie and Montoya, especially Pattie’s barb that Montoya needs to come to Charlotte to practice pit stops? How redfaced do you think ESPN is that they had zero cameras on Sadler? But for his crash sneaking into the Busch coverage, they would have had nothing at all on one of the worst wrecks in NASCAR this year.

Montoya screwed something up, and they had a 17 second stop (I would imagine he messed up getting into the box), so Pattie called him out. Montoya was then upset that Pattie called him out, and he was upset about losing track position because they got four tires. JPM is notorious for his ability to express his feelings. To your second question, I think it’s the nature of the beast. This sort of thing is the nightmare of every sports television director – missing that key play (or in this case a wreck) because they didn’t have a camera – but it happens because you just can’t have cameras everywhere. I’d be willing to bet there have been some serious discussions this week about how to make sure this doesn’t happen again. – Journo

9. From Lost in Texas:

Anything new in the Jeremy Mayfield case?

I haven’t heard anything new. The last I heard was that Mayfield’s legal team had asked Judge Mullen to reconsider his ruling, a formal step before they can appeal to the 4th Circuit Court. – Journo

10. From Kipp:

T.C.- This is a great outlet and source of information and discussion. Thank you for you and Journo’s efforts. With the recent fine given to Denny Hamlin, have you worried any about potential fines or punishment coming from NASCAR for operating on this forum?

Thanks Kipp!  Glad you are enjoying what we do.  And no, neither myself nor Journo is worried in any way about being fined or punished by NASCAR.  We operate a very fair website, and if they ever took exception to something we wrote, all it would take is a simple request, and they could post a rebuttal here.  Also, I think it’s important to note that NASCAR didn’t fine somebody in the press, it was drivers.  If they did ever try and penalize a media member, it would come to light pretty quickly.  And, as our regular readers know, we’ve been very critical of NASCAR at times (see Tuesday’s blog post), and they have yet to even bother contacting us. – T.C.

11. From derek:

Why does a crew member use a propane torch to heat the tire up and then scrape it?

The crew guy is using the torch and the scraper to clean off any build up on the tires so the tire specialist can get an accurate reading of the tire’s tread depth after a run.  When a car is running around the track, especially under caution and heading to pit road, the hot tires will pick up rubber and all sorts of other things.  Cleaning them allows the teams to figure out how much rubber was actually worn off over the course of a run. – T.C.

12. From M. Sauter:

With the season winding down, and sponsors signing or leaving, when should Kahne fans begin to panic?Right now, he has no ride and no sponsor.

There isn’t a point you should start panicking. Kasey will be in a car next season. Where that’s at is still yet to be seen, but Kasey will absolutely be driving somewhere next season. Rick Hendrick didn’t sign Kasey to sideline him. Don’t worry! Everything will be worked out…eventually. – 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 13, 2018 in Ask the Insiders, Nascar |

Ask The Insiders Wednesday #96

The NASCAR teams have a home game this week, as both the Nationwide and Cup Series will take to Charlotte this weekend.  As the teams look forward to sleeping in their own beds this week, we’ve got the 96th round of reader questions and answers.  If you don’t know what this post is, we answer 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 Dan:

Great web site and lots of inside information a must every day. The question that I have is the following. Why on the TV broadcast after the race I notice that the teams are removing the new shark fin spoilers from the roof, rear window and trunk lid. Why remove these items at the track and before loading the cars into the haulers? I have seen it several times?

To be honest, I’m not 100% sure on this answer, but I believe it’s because the shark fin is too tall for the trailers.  The fin on the rear window sticks up above the roof line, and the cars just barely fit into the trailers as they are. – T.C.

2. From Rowan:

Hi guys, great site, love it. Do you think Kenny Francis will stay with the number 9 team @ RPM next season? In Australia we have series called the Masters for cars that raced back in sixties and seventies. Do you think NASCAR would introduce a series similiar where we could see those old Dodges, Plymouths, Torino s and Chevys back on the track again in battle? And last question Owen Kelly drove the Road America race is he still racing in the U.S.?

Thanks Rowan! It was all but announced this weekend Kenny Francis would go to Red Bull with Kasey Kahne (you probably already saw that). How exactly that’s going to work beyond next season remains to be seen. To your second question, I don’t think so. It would be entertaining for sure, but I’m not sure where they would get equipment. There are actually people who have classic race cars and race them in exhibition races – it’s not sanctioned by NASCAR though. As far as Owen Kelly, he drove for Baker Curb Racing at Road America, but I’m not sure if he’s done any other racing in the US since then. Maybe someone else knows? – Journo

3. From Steve:

I know you’ve said that all drivers at the Sprint Cup level have talent. But in your view, which drivers have the talent to get more out of their car than a so-called average driver? And which drivers seem to get less out of their car than would seem right given their equipment, support, etc.?

I think it’s a two fold thing: what can a driver get out of their car, and what they can communicate about their car. Kyle Busch is very good at both of these things. And look at Kasey Kahne and Kenny Francis as a team that is good at both of these things (given their situation). In my opinion, Martin Truex is a guy who struggles to communicate and get everything out of his car (in comparison to his peers). – Journo

4. From Kim:

I don’t know what a crew chief makes, but seeing fines of $150000 takes my breath away. When a crew chief is fined for an infraction, do they have to pay it in one lump sum?. Do they pay it personally? Does the team pay it? Does it have to be paid before they come to the track for the next race?

Those fines are generally paid by the teams. NASCAR does allow for payment plans to be set up though should a team not be willing (or able) to pay a fine. As far as when fines have to be paid, as I understand it (section 12-3 in the rulebook) fines are to be paid promptly, but if that’s not possible they must be paid before NASCAR will approve the following year’s license for the person who received the fine. – Journo

5. From Thenewme:

Is ESPN TV trying to create the feeling that we are live at NASCAR races? They are doing a good job because we cannot hear the announcers. The mix of track noise is killing the commentary. We just turn the sound off.

Among the issues in an ESPN broadcast I’ve noticed that too. It’s called ‘nat sound’ – and I agree it is often too loud. It is kind of like you’re at a race though, you can’t hear the PA announcer over the cars – you can’t hear the broadcasters over the race. – Journo

6. From Mike:

Do you have a real idea how the 6 man over the wall crew is going to work next season? Have you talked to any of the truck guys about it? Does the fuel can act differently? Who is making the adjustments now?

It won’t be drastically different than what we have now.  Stop times may slow down some early on, partially through inexperience and partially because the new cans don’t dump as quickly.  But give the teams some time with it, and improvements will be made.  You will still have five guys changing the tires, and adjustments will be made by the rear tire carrier. – T.C.

7. From dwiltone:

Something I have thought of a few times before. Is there at any time, short of loading and unloading, any reason for anyone other than the drivers to actually drive the race car? How about an older car? I mean. Ya’ll do what you do because of your love of racing. Ever have two seats in the car just to give the guys a spin so to speak? Thanks you 2.

There are times when cars will be driven around the shop complexes, but usually not at the race track.  When cars are moved at the track, they are always just pushed around by the teams.  For those guys who really want to experience a race car, most just go out and race.  There is pretty good percentage of guys who either raced previously or still race, whether it be latemodels, go carts, or something similar. – T.C.

8. From Gabriella:

A newbie question: I’ve figured out that there’s a sub-race off pit road, but what I don’t understand is how those drivers flying out of pit road merge? E.g., what if the leader at the caution is the mighty Jimmie Johnson, who decides NOT to pit: where does he fit in the restart? Thanks!

They don’t really have to merge.  At the end of pit road is a line, and the cars are put in order by who gets to the line first, second, third, etc.  And if there are cars that are on the lead lap, but don’t pit, they stay behind the pace car and any cars that pitted line up behind them.  So if JJ is running 5th, but he stays out and everyone else pits, JJ is the leader. – T.C.

9. From Denny:

I know every year we have all of these great rumors throughout the season. I was wondering if you are hearing any rumors of a major Cup/Cup Lite team making a manufacture-swap for 2011? Also been meaning to ask this question and this goes back to Chicago’s Cup Race. I am sure I heard one of the announcers mention either during or after the race that winner, David Reutimann’s #00 was running a new, improved intake manifold from TRD. Wouldn’t this take a long approval process from NASCAR? What was the deal with this?

The only team in either the Cup or Nationwide Series that I am fairly certain will switch manufacturers is the new Turner Motorsports.  From what we’ve heard, the team will switch all the old Braun Toyotas over to Chevrolets.  Other than that, I believe all the other teams are sticking with what they’ve got.  To your second question, I didn’t hear anything about Reutimann using a new intake, but it’s certainly possible.  Any new engine part would definitely have to go through an approval process by NASCAR, but I doubt it would be overly lengthy. – T.C.

10. From Fireball:

Are you aware of any team trying a four or three stud wheel. This would seem to speed up pit stops, but obviously less redundancy if a nut were missed?

I’ve never heard of a team trying a wheel with less studs.  It’s certainly against NASCAR’s rules to use something like that, and I highly doubt NASCAR would ever approve something like that for competition.  Outside of faster pit stops, I don’t really think there is an advantage to using a four or three stud wheel. – T.C.

11. From Mike:

Two questions: 1. What do you think are the chances we’ll see NASCAR at the new F1 track in Austin? 2. Have you heard anything about the future of Robby Gordon Motorsports or Robby’s career in NASCAR?

I would say probably not too likely (if they do actually get it built). It would require ISC, SMI, Dovor Motorsports, the Mattiolis, or Indianapolis to give up a date. I don’t see any of that happening. I’ve heard (I don’t know how good the info is) Robby is close on a sponsorship deal for all of his racing endeavors, but nothing is done. We’ll see. – Journo

12. From markh:

I noticed at Fontana the 18 team working on Kyle’s car under a canopy next to the hauler. What’s up with that? I’ve seen that on the Nationwide side before, but never on the Cup side.

They do that with a few of the Cup teams on their side of the garage, and I’m not really sure why.  According to the Auto Club Speedway website, they have 100 garage stalls, so you’d think they could fit them all.  For whatever reason though, the way they have the Cup garage area set up, that’s just what they have to do to to fit everyone in. -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 22, 2018 in Nascar |

GUEST COLUMN: Local pro-truck driver Whitney Poole leaves her mark at local track

Whitney Poole (l) practices her #00 Chevrolet Taylor Racing Products Pro-Truck at Orlando Speedworld (Photo by Karen Pistone)

 

by Karen Pistone

Editor’s note: Karen Pistone is the force behind the Racingal’s Fan2Fan blog (http://racingal.com), a NASCAR fan blog which is an exceptional resource for race fans. For instance, after the past weekend’s events at Daytona, Karen posted  six suggestions that would help to make the experience an even better one for fans.

Fan2Fan is an outgrowth of Pistone’s original The Fifth Turn blog, which was a part of the race page on the website of the OrlandoSentinel, where Karen works as a production artist. Production duties recently changed. causing Karen to shift her focus and move her blog to the current location.

A professed race fan for the past 25 years, Karen attended many races at Dover until relocating to Orlando in 2002 where she currently attends races at Daytona International Speedway and Miami-Homstead Speedway.

Karen’s racing heritage is impressive- she is reticent to talk about it, but I think it deserves mention: Her grandfather-in-law is former NASCAR driver “Tiger Tom” Pistone. There’s also her brother-in-law, Tom Pistone, who has his own chassis building warehouse in Statesville, NC – Performancenter Pistone LTO — and who also races, as well as cousins Tommy III, Nick and Chase. All four family members will be racing against each other at the Legends Million Dollar Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway next week, July 15-17.

And as a true race fan, Karen goes anywhere the action is to be found–whether it’s out to Daytona International Speedway for the Coke Zero 400 or to the local track at Orlando Speedworld for Friday night racin’ with friends.

The following post Karen wrote about a particular Orlando Speedworld driver who looks to be on the right track for the big time. Karen graciously agreed to have it reprinted here. 

* * *

 

At times, I think local racing is more exciting than a NASCAR Cup or Nationwide race. You know how it is: Less rules for the drivers, and they actually let ’em race! Local tracks are also great breeding grounds; some pretty awesome drivers can emerge. They have to start somewhere, right? And nothing beats watching all those young guns (and then some) racing, bumping and grinding, doing whatever it takes trying to get that victory!

Recently I headed out to Orlando Speedworld (where I’ve become a regular) for some “local” racing under the lights. I had also invited my Orlando Sentinel “posse” along, and we all met out at the track.

I asked them to watch this one driver and to let me know what they thought. This driver had caught my attention earlier last year during the Orlando Speedworld season opener, finishing second. I wanted confirmation from other fans about what I’d been wondering: Did I want to support this driver just because she was the only female currently racing at that track — or was it because she could really race and kick some butt, holding her own up front racing with the guys, taking no BS from anyone?

The driver I’m talking about is 19-year old Whitney Poole from Vero Beach, FL. Whitney started her racing career at the age of 8 racing Go-Karts. Over the years she accomplished 104 wins, 155 Top-5’s and 162 Top-10 finishes in that league.

By the age of 17, Whitney worked her way up to motorsports driving in the Sportsman class. In 2007 she grabbed 2 wins, 6 top-5 and 17 top-10 finishes, and was named Orlando Speedworld’s Winter Series Sportsman Champion.

Whitney also participated in the Grand Slam of Trucks “Touring Series,” completing the four-race series 5th in points out of 34 teams and wining 2009 Rookie of the Year honors.

Whitney is in her second year of racing in the Taylor Racing Products Pro-Truck Series. Last year she drove the #00 ’95 Chevy to 2 top-5 and 8 top-10 finishes and finished fifth in points for the Orlando SpeedWorld 2009 season.

 

 

Whitney getting ready to run some practice laps as Dad Randy pats her helmet for luck. (Photo: Karen Pistone)

 

Poole’s crew consists of her Dad (and Crew Chief) Randy Poole, and Mom Kimberly Poole, who takes photos and video and is also an associate sponsor. Her pit crew includes Don Abrams, Brian Lynch Sr., Brian Lynch Jr., Bob Hall, Darrell Hubler, Eddie St. Angelo, James Barrett (spotter) and her best friend Sam Myberg (team scorer).

For the past couple of years, Whitney has been racing against some top teams – including Daytona’s and NASCAR’s France-Kennedy clan, Ben Kennedy (son of Lisa France Kennedy). To date, Whitney has yet to win a Taylor Racing Products Pro-Truck Series race.

 


Whitney Poole (#00) running ahead of the #96 of Ben Kennedy at Orlando Speedworld. (Photo: Karen Pistone)

 

Here’s a recap of some Poole racing action, excerpted from the Orlando Speedworld race program:

… Orlando Speedworld had a full race for the second straight Friday night. Without question, the race of the night belonged to the Taylor Racing Products Pro-Trucks. … After a brief caution with just 3 laps remaining, the restart saw Scott Reeves (#55) going from the top spot with Whitney Poole (#00) alongside. Row two was Anthony Sergi (#20) and Ben Kennedy (#96). … Reeves got the jump and quickly regained the lead while Sergi and Poole went side-by-side for second and after a little rubbing in Turn 1, Sergi cleared Poole, who then, following suit, took third with just two laps to go… as they raced side-by-side, Reeves got sideways…Kennedy crossed the finished line, winning, Reeves took second and Poole, third…

As it turned out, my workplace “posse” confirmed my thoughts about Whitney — they were all as impressed with her as I was. “She can drive the wheels off that truck,” said one. “She wasn’t scared of anything!!”

I asked Whitney what the significance was to having the #00 on her truck. She replied, “When I was a little kid, my dad worked on the crew (tire changer) of the #00 Hooters Pro Cup Team of Curtis Davis, so that had an influence. But when I was 8 years old, I thought it (the number) was cool because my last name was “Poole” and we would put P(00)LE on my go karts.”

Currently, Whitney’s sponsors include Advance Auto Parts, Terri O’Connell (GoTerrioGo.com) and Kimberly Poole Photography. She is currently looking for a main sponsor for the remainder of the 2010 season as well as for 2011. Orlando Speedworld is considered her “home track;” However, Whitney has competed in some select races at New Smyrna Speedway in New Smyrna Beach, FL and is currently racing a limited schedule there as well as at Orlando Speedworld and Punta Gorda Speedway.

Poole applied for NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity in 2009 but didn’t quite make the cut. It’s a tough program to get into, but Whitney isn’t giving up. She says she will keep on racing, and hopes the experience she gains will help her into Drive for Diversity.

Whitney is currently a full-time student at Keiser University, majoring in Business Marketing. She currently holds a 3.5 GPA after five semesters. She is also enrolled in online schooling so she can continue with her racing career.

As with everyone else trying to meet the demands of our sluggish economy, 2010 has been a tough year for Whitney. Her main sponsor had to pull out for reasons that were beyond her control.

One thing that had me laughing as we were sitting in the stands shooting the breeze was Whitney’s reply when asked if her truck was hard to drive.

“Compared to a car that has a manual transmission, oh yeah, my truck is easy to drive!”

 

 

Whitney Poole takes time to sign autographs for her fans out at Orlando Speedworld. Right: Whitney Poole has fans of all ages – as seen here with Gavin Koors, 6. (photos: Karen Pistone)

 

Having finished her race, Whitney headed down to the track where all the other drivers had gathered with their rides, to talk to and sign autographs for fans.

In addition to having a wonderful, warm and outgoing personality, Whitney handles herself like a professional and takes her racing very seriously. Racing is what she loves to do and will continue to be her focus, and maybe, just maybe, Whitney Poole will someday have her dream come true and find herself as the first female driver to win a race in NASCAR.

If you’d like to support Whitney Poole and her racing efforts, you can now buy Whitney Poole Motorsports team shirts for only $12 through her Facebook Fan Page – Whitney Poole Motorsports – or by email at Poole00@gmail.com. You can also keep up with Whitney’s racing through her website at WhitneyPoole.us.

 

 

Whitney Poole with Karen Pistone. Keep up the great work, gals!

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Posted by on Aug 2, 2018 in Nascar |

Does NASCAR know when to hold ‘em?

On Friday, I got out of the shower. I do that most days, typically after getting in it. Most of the time, I wind up getting dressed in the bedroom and turn on the TV while I’m rubbing lotion into my ailing feet, then putting on my socks, pants, shoes, etc.

“Let’s Make a Deal” was on. I didn’t realize there was such a show anymore. Monty Hall recently turned 89 years old. Wayne Brady hosts it now.

So I’m watching this reworked version of a game show I grew up watching. Suddenly it occurred to me: NASCAR, over the past decade, has been a metaphor. For “Let’s Make a Deal.” NASCAR constantly turns down the money and opts for Door No. 2. Or the box.

Wayne Brady: “All right, you’ve got millions and millions of dollars. You can take that right now. Or you can give me the money and take what’s behind … that door.”

Brian Z. France: “I’m going for the door, Wayne.”

WB: “You’re already running a mainstream sport. You’re sure about this?”

BZF (dressed as a huge wedge of cheese): “I’m sure, Wayne. Who wants to be in the mainstream? I want to run the NFL out of business!”

Wayne takes the money. “What’s behind Door No. 2?”

Announcer’s voice (with buxom lass displaying merchandise): “Congratulations, Brian France, you’ll enjoy the breathtaking excitement of the Chase for the Nextel Cup! You’ll be there as the 10 best drivers in the world battle it out over 10 weeks to decide the championship of America’s Fastest Growing Sport!”

A few years later, BZF wangles another invitation to the show.

WB: “OK, Brian, you’ve earned untold millions more. You’ve implemented a new race car. You’ve moved races around. You can keep all this money, all these ticket sales, all these TV ratings, or you can risk it all on what’s in that box?”

The audience screams, “Go for it! Go For it!” Audiences always want the contestants to gamble. It’s not their money.

BZF: “Let’s see, Wayne, I could keep what I’ve got and be comfortable forever. But that’s just not good enough. I don’t want to be comfortable. No, I want to be even bigger than the NFL. I want to run the World Cup out of business. I’m going for the box!”

WB: “OK, it’s up to you. Show us what’s behind … the box!”

Announcer: “The Chase for the Sprint Cup is going to undergo changes, Mr. France! Instead of the 10 best drivers, now it’ll be the 12 best drivers!”

(Audience squeals as if Beatles just walked onto stage of “Ed Sullivan Show.”)

“But that’s not all. Oh, no, it won’t just be 10 races. It’ll be 10 races loaded with dazzling, wreck-spackled finishes … in overtime. Dozens of cars will not be allowed to remain anywhere but on the lead lap. And when the Chase begins, Mr. France, the regular-season point standings won’t have anything to do with it! The order will be determined by … that’s right … bonus points for winning!”

“How will this affect the outcome?” BZF asks in a tone of wonder, punching at the air with both fists?”

“Jimmie Johnson will still win!”

Aaaaaaaahhhhhhh. A bit of a downer from the audience.

BZF just can’t give up these occasional appearances on “Let’s Make a Deal.” He is an inveterate gambler, always willing to let everything ride. He just knows that next door will be loaded down with riches that will reverse the declining attendance and ratings.

Fortunately, BZF isn’t on the show every week or even every year. Otherwise, the utter predictability of his actions would be more obvious.

NASCAR spin doctors say the slump is all economy. The fans still love everything about NASCAR – generic cars, lucky dogs, Giggywucks, wave-arounds, etc., etc., etc. – but some of them are hurting, and they just can’t afford it. If they could afford it, they’d be there every week. This is what NASCAR says it gets from its fan councils and focus groups and marketing surveys.

If that’s true, why keep changing everything willy-nilly?

Even though everything is might-nigh perfect, says BZF, it can still be better. So he’s going to stand on that imaginary stage alongside imaginary Wayne Grady again and let everything ride, hoping Door No. 3 doesn’t have a mule and a scarecrow behind it.

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Posted by on Jul 6, 2018 in Nascar |

How they learned to stop worrying …

In the effort to “protect the brand,” NASCAR is treating its elite class like they were frat hellions from “Animal House”– and the drivers are playing along.

Years ago, it seemed as if prominent NASCAR figures – drivers, crew chiefs, owners, sponsor reps – were always leaking things to me.

They’d pass along some piece of juicy information, invariably preceded by, “You didn’t get this from me, but …”

At one point, I responded to one of these bits of gossip by telling the source, “You know, for years and years, black people were treated badly … but eventually, Dr. Martin Luther King did come along.”

These folks wanted me to fight their battles for them.

The NASCAR equivalent of Dr. King is still nowhere to be found. Earlier this week, the news broke that the absolute ruler of stock car racing had been fining some drivers secretly. Apparently, they were guilty of “damaging the NASCAR brand.”

Isn’t it funny when men whose job involves stock cars racing one another for hundreds of laps/miles use words like “brand.” It’s a softer way of saying, basically, “Don’t you dare say something bad about us.”

The game is known as “spin.” A group of prominent figures get together, agonize over being caught doing something they didn’t want anyone to know about and discuss just how they can possibly talk their way out of a mess.

“They fine coaches in basketball for criticizing the officials.” Yeah, and they announce it when they do.

Of all people, Ryan Newman, who happens to be one of the drivers fined not-so-secretly-after-all, actually said on Friday, at Michigan International Speedway, that he was OK with such subterfuge.

“It’s no different than any other sport,” he insisted on Sirius XM satellite radio. “It’s just that we don’t want to publicize the fact that we’re penalizing people for what they say. And other sports do it non-stop, continuously, and you have repeat offenders just like you do other crimes. It’s nothing that anybody wants to be a part of, but unfortunately it’s something that we have to, a part of our sport that we have to address.”

Gee whiz. Remember the line from “Animal House”? “Thank, you, sir, may I have another?”

Jeff Burton, of whom the adjective “statesmanlike” is often used, said he didn’t think he’d ever said anything that merited a fine, so he wasn’t worried about it. It was unusual to see Burton reduced to “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.”

Tony Stewart, as usual, blamed the media. There is no truth, however, to the rumor that he blames the media for oil in the gulf, water on the knee and soap scum in the shower.

What could be worse for an allegedly mainstream sport than to punish people without admission or explanation? For years, people have joked about “double secret probation.” (Gosh, I’ll be darned. Another “Animal House” reference.) Apparently, it wasn’t a joke.

“I look at this being a private matter and think that it’s actually a good thing,” said Jimmie Johnson, even though, apparently, there were no electrodes attached to shock him if he departed from the company line. “The fact that they went to the drivers that they didn’t like what they were saying, and penalized them and fined them and talked to them about the comments they made and how it could hurt our sport was good.

“I don’t think that it’s good to have everything out in the press because all we continue to do is focus on negative things time and time again, and the circus builds around it and it goes on and on and on.”

Brian France isn’t merely the chairman. He is apparently a monarch by divine right: omnipotent, omniscient and, by his own admission, multifaceted.

Here’s the bottom line from the flip side of the equation: Fans have a right to the whole story. Start whitewashing everything, and it ruins the luster of the wood. This is just a fairy tale, and NASCAR has been playing Chicken Little to its drivers by claiming the sky is falling.

Unlike the aforementioned Mr. Little, the drivers still believe it. And they get what they deserve.

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