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Ask The Insiders Wednesday #50

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

Nov 18th, 2009 by T.C.

The last race of the season is upon us.  Come Sunday night, the 2009 season will be over.  But what won’t end, is Ask The Insiders Wednesday.  We’ve got our 50th batch of questions and answers for you.  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 Nick:

The last time I was @ Hendrik Motorsports, Jeff Gordon’s “T-Rex” car wasn’t there. Do you know where they moved it?

I have absolutely no idea. Was it in the museum? I’m sure they try to rotate the cars in the museum to keep things fresh. Too, the museum was redone earlier this year, so they might have changed some things out. – Journo

2. From Big Mike:

I don’t understand how an experienced  winner in all three series of ARCA, Trucks, and Nationwide, Rookie of the Year, 3 Cup Poles, can be overlooked for any job in any series. I’m speaking of Scott Riggs. Scott’s a great driver who doesn’t go around with a swelled head. He’s a clean driver 99% of the time and would do a great job for any team.  Do you think the fact that he was man enough to stand up and admit on the air that Tommy Baldwin asked him to start and park has hurt his chances to secure another ride?  Let’s face it the last 5-6 cars every week who squeeze in and have no chance of winning are there to rip off the gate.  So what is your take on Scott’s future?

I haven’t heard a thing about Scott Riggs and as far as I know he isn’t really very visible around the garage. The problem is there are a glut of drivers and not enough rides. Unless you’re bringing with you money or proven talent (and money) it’s going to be hard to find a ride. I don’t think there were any hard feelings over the TBR deal. Tommy just realized he couldn’t afford to keep running the full races and starting and parking wasn’t something Scott wanted to do. As far as Scott goes though I haven’t heard anything about him for 2010. He may be working on something, he may not. – Journo

3. From Savannah:

Here is a what if question.  Since Dale Jr has struggled this year, do you think that Rick Hendrick considered moving a successful crew chief, ala Chad Knaus, to the 88 team for next year?   Even with the recent crew chief change, Dale Earnhardt has not improved as quickly as some fans hoped.  Just curious if you think that this option was considered.

If it was considered I would think it was for only a fleeting moment. Rick Hendrick is not the type to kill a successful pairing like Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson. Was it thought about? I’m sure every scenario was considered, but I doubt this was a likely solution. – Journo

4. From Dave:

When NASCAR takes a team’s car to Concord for further inspection, how does it get there? Does NASCAR take it on one of their haulers or does the team?  Once there how does the team get it back if NASCAR releases it?  Y’all have done a great job all year and I hope this continues after the season ends.

NASCAR has transporters they use to take the cars from the track to Concord. After they’ve finished inspecting the car you get to come get it yourself (doesn’t seem fair right?). And thank you! – Journo

5. From Ric:

On the #48 team, what is the garage feelings about them. Do they mirror the fans? Is their dominance hurting NASCAR?

I’m not sure I can speak for everyone in the garage, but I don’t personally feel the way some of the fans do about Jimmie.  Yeah, I wish the competition was closer, but I respect what amazing things they have been able to accomplish.  I certainly don’t dislike Jimmie or the #48 guys because of their run.  I wish that on some level, people could step back from their allegiances and see just how great this team has been. – T.C.

6. From Ric:

About how long does it take the winning driver / team to make it thru all the pictures and interviews after a race? What is the longest you have heard of?

The drivers take a lot longer then the rest of the team.  After the main celebration and hat dance is over, the crew can take off to start loading the hauler and tearing down pit road.  The driver has to stay longer for more pictures.  Usually the bigger the race, the longer it takes.  The Daytona 500 victory lane activities can go on for a while.  I’m not sure I could tell you an exact time though, as I don’t normally hang around for the driver part. – T.C.

7. From Ric:

Who supplies (pays for) the champagne in the winners circle? What is on the bottles, looks like the Sprint Cup Logo? About how many bottles do they go thru after a race?

I’m not 100% sure who pays for it, but I would assume it’s supplied by the marketing company that handles Sprint’s NASCAR efforts (which I believe is Octagon). As far as how many bottles they go through, upwards of half a dozen maybe. – Journo

8. From Roger from Colorado:

Last week I was on a hunting trip traveling on I-20 towards Dallas from Colorado. It was Monday and I noticed quite a number of Cup and Nationwide haulers going west towards Phoenix for the weekend race there. I saw the 48 hauler and wondered what they had inside after the big wreck. I got to thinking about what all of them had on the trip to Phoenix. I assume that a different car is used at Phoenix (a smaller flat track vs the big, banked Texas track). Does another hauler meet them at Dallas and switch equipment and cars for the different style track? There were a bunch of busted up cars after the Texas race that were junk. Sure too far to return to NC and then come back out to Phoenix with more equipment.

Actually most teams have somebody meet them in Texas with the equipment they need for Phoenix.  They’ll trade out everything that needs to be traded out and then head their separate ways. At Texas these guys were actually waiting in a lot outside the track ready to make the switch. – Journo

9. From Scott:

Hey Guys, after Johnson’s win this past weekend its going to be tough for Mark Martin to win the championship, but as we know anything can happen.  I think we all know the fans are divided between frustration, hatred and awe of what the number 48 has done (again) this year.  My question is how do your peers feel about in the garage?  Do they feel the same as the fans?  What about the drivers? And just to add some fuel to the black helicopters out there, is there any driver out there that could hold Johnson up or make his day difficult enough to give Mark Martin a run at this thing?  Ok, I’m caught!  I’m a big Martin fan and it saddens me to see him be a bridesmaid again.  Not to take away what he’s accomplished this but jeez!  Thanks again guys.

Like I said above, I can’t speak for everyone, but I do wish the competition was closer.  You never want to see one driver or team dominate a sport.  But there really isn’t the hate and discontent in the garage area for Jimmie that you will find among some fans.  Unless it’s a freak deal, I think you will see most drivers steer clear of Jimmie during the race.  Nobody wants to be that guy. – T.C.

10. From Ric:

Let’s say you have a car that just won a race, it stayed out of all the wrecks, the driver wants to race it later in the year. What needs to be done to the car to get it ready for that next race? What is (or not) changed / replaced / redone?

After a race, cars are completely torn down.  Everything from the engine to the suspension is taken out and off.  The cars are checked over and then placed back into rotation to be set up again for the next race in which it will be used. – T.C.

11. From Tommy:

I know NASCAR takes the top two cars and others for post race inspections.  What do they look for in the engine?  Is it just they meet certain specs like cylinder size?  Do they put it on a dyno and determine how much horsepower it has?   Rick Hendrick admitted his engines may vary from 5 – 15 horsepower.  I wonder if Jimmie has more horsepower than the other 42 drivers?

I don’t believe that NASCAR puts engines on the dyno in the course of their normal post race inspections.  What they usually check the engines for is that they meet all the specs in the rule book; compression, displacement, etc.  And while Hendrick’s engines are certainly a part of their success, a few horsepower over other competitors isn’t why Jimmie has won three straight championships. – T.C.

12. From Tom Gulf Coast

If NASCAR chooses to go with a larger tire, what else would have to be changed with the car?  Do you know if its a larger wheel or just a taller tire?  I think the 15 inch wheel is about the only thing that has always been the same over the past 50+ years.

From what I understand, the tire is wider and would require a change to 17 inch wheels.  A larger wheel and wider tire would require teams to make some big changes to the current cars.  Bodies would need to be different, as the wheel openings would need to be larger.  Also, I would imagine that both front and rear suspension geometry would change because of the larger combo.  Also, fender wells and crush panels would need to be different.  – 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!

Ask The Insiders Wednesday #124

Posted by on Feb 2, 2019 in Ask the Insiders, Nascar |

This week, we follow up one Saturday night show with another.  The Cup and NNS cars will take to the Lady in Black for some “under the lights” racing.  While we wait for the weekend, here is a very short edition of ATIW.  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 Marc:

How do you think the new qualifying rules are working? Have the television ratings have improved ? If anything, I’ve been watching less of the broadcast, tuning in only for the fastest cars and the go-or-go-homers at the end, and I cannot imagine I am the only one. Also, do you think drivers would go slower in practice to qualify early if the track is expected to slow down as qualifying proceeded?

I think they are probably working as expected.  Unfortunately, I have no idea if the TV ratings for qualifying are better this year, or if more qualifying day tickets have been sold.  Regardless though, there is definitely a bit more drama towards the end of qualifying sessions.  As to your last question, I believe teams will do whatever they feel is necessary to get a leg up on the competition.  If that means sandbagging practice to get a good spot in the qualifying order, then so be it.  But remember that a team could really only do that if they felt their car was very good.  If not, they will need to maximize practice in order to make their car better. – T.C.

2. From Christopher:

Jeff Gordon is listed as the “owner” of Johnson’s 48 car. But when it comes to stats and listings of results, its considered a “Hendrick” car. What is the difference? Who owns what? Also does Jeff Gordon make any extra cash when the 48 wins or whatever?

Jeff Gordon is the “co-owner” of the #48 team with Rick Hendrick. It’s been like that since, I believe, the very beginning of that team. What exactly that means I really can’t say. Does he receive benefits for that? Is it purely symbolic? I unfortunately can’t provide any more than very general details on the situation. – 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!

Ask The Insiders Wednesday #135

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

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!

Ask The Insiders Wednesday #86

Posted by on Nov 5, 2018 in Ask the Insiders, Nascar |

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!

Ask The Insiders Wednesday #95

Posted by on Sep 29, 2018 in Ask the Insiders |

The Chase heads west this week for a little racing action, California style.  While we dream of surf and sun, here are more of our answers to your NASCAR questions.  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 Christa:

I don’t normally bash the race broadcast, but the coverage by ESPN on Sunday was HORRIBLE!! Cutting to commercial during green with 10 to go is inexcusable. My question is this, any chance NASCAR can pressure them to put on a decent show? Or do you think outcry from the fans is the only solution? I’ve already sent them an angry email to do my part, but I’d like to hear your thoughts. Thanks!

NASCAR can certainly put pressure on them to change things, but at the end of the day it’s ESPN’s call. I really hate to say this, and I’m not necessarily advocating it, but the best way to show ESPN you don’t like their product is to tune out (or DVR it). The emails and letters don’t hurt. They’re looking at it right now anyway thanks to the large ratings declines over the last three races. You aren’t alone in your feelings on this – if you ever check out The Daly Planet this has been a constant complaint from many viewers. In fact JD did a writeup on the ESPN ratings issue today. – Journo

2. From Jeanette:

Hi guys. Perhaps you can settle a discussion that took place while my boyfriend and I were watching qualifying recently. When a crew chief tells the driver after his lap “P-4″ or “P-whatever”, does the P stand for position? provisional?

Whoever said it stood for position is the winner. The crew chief, or spotter will tell the driver p whatever to let them know where they stand in qualifying, practice, or the race. – Journo

3. From Anonymous:

Hey guys, love the website! Keep doing what you’re doing! This may seem like a silly question but I often notice after a race that when pit reporters are doing postrace interviews, many times the drivers are already changed into street clothes. Are the drivers fast in the shower in addition to being fast on the track or do the TV producers ‘collapse time’ and make things look like they are happening quicker than they really are? Many thanks!

Thanks! No silly questions here. No time collapse, the drivers you see who have changed have enough time to go back to the hauler (generally they do it in the lounge) to change out of their firesuits. – Journo

4. From brian:

Years ago Petty put Wilson in the 44 car after he retired. He had to change the number back to #43 b/c the NASCAR rule was if you don’t use it you lose it. Why isn’t the same with the #3. It is always said Childress has the #, but if he isn’t using it why can’t someone else use it?

Technically, no team owns a number.  NASCAR owns all the numbers and grants permission to the teams to use them.  So really, if somebody wanted to use the number, they could petition NASCAR to get it.  However, I think nobody asking to use it is more of a respect thing than anything else. – T.C.

5. From Michael in SoCal:

Hi guys. I just watched this week’s Whelen Southern Modified race on Versus and there was mention of Langley Speedway winner, Tim Brown, who was going to race at Tri-County Speedway. Jack Arute & Jimmy Spencer mentioned that Brown, who works for Michael Waltrip Racing, was called out to Phoenix by MWR for testing there. I thought testing was banned at any track where the top three series race? Any insight as to what this was all about? Thanks.

Just because he was called to Phoenix to do a test doesn’t necessarily mean they were at Phoenix International Raceway.  I don’t recall any Goodyear tire tests there this season, so I doubt that’s where they went.  I would imagine that the test was at the Toyota Proving Grounds in Wittman, AZ.  The facility is about an hour and a half outside of Phoenix.  – T.C.

6. From David:

With all the Nationwide series rookies getting the boot do you think that NASCAR needs to have contracts like the NFL or NBA???

You’ve got to feel for these guys, but the structure of NASCAR makes it difficult to have a labor union like you see in the NFL or the NBA. The drivers are independent contractors in NASCAR – they work individually for teams, who at the end of the day have no stake in the sport as a whole – which is quite different than other major American sports leagues where the owners make up the league. I think there is an argument to be made that these guys need more protections, but how exactly to do that I don’t know. – Journo

7. From Jon:

I have a few questions… but before I begin first I wanna say I love the blog, I’ve written in a few times and you guys always answer my questions! You guys do a 100x better job than NASCAR PR LOL. 1. I was looking at some old race results at and noticed in ’95 and ’96, both races (when phx featured just 1 event) had 44 cars. why? when/how did nascar decide on the 43 car field # and what dictated the # before? 2. i’m pretty sure i’ve read this somewhere/heard it on a broadcast, but i’m not 100% sure. let’s say two guys tie at the end of the season w/ the same # of points. the driver with the most wins gets the better spot in the points, right? do they have tiebreakers to determine who takes the higher spot in points after wins (if they are still tied)? 3. why hasn’t nascar considered running more nationwide one-off events? if they want to get cup regulars out, woudln’t it make more sense to run the events in tandem with say a truck or arca or IRL event, at a venue where the cup series isn’t? if they did this more than just the 3 times a year (i think?) that they do this now, to say like, 9-10, wouldn’t it be way more likely a regular would win rather than a cup series regular? i’m just looking for slightly easier “fixes” for the Nationwide series, as opposed to some ridiculous idea of leaving Cup regulars out of the points championship.

For a much better explanation of why we have 43 car fields, and the situation you mention at Phoenix, check out this piece by Dave Rodman from the 2002 season.  In regards to ties in the point system, the NASCAR rule book says that if two drivers are tied, the tie will be broken by which driver has the most first place finishes.  If they are still tied, it then goes to second place finishes, third places finish, and so on and so forth.  If a tie still remains after that, “the driver having the highest finishing position first during the current season prevails.”  And to your question about more standalone events, I honestly have no idea.  The Nationwide/Busch Series did used to run more events by itself, but over the course of the last decade or so, most of the schedule has been changed to run in conjunction with the Cup Series.  It’s probably more about drawing more fans to the track and offering more entertainment for a weekend than anything else. – T.C.

8. From Craig:

Does NASCAR give directives to the broadcast teams about what to talk about or what not to criticize? Example, when it comes to 1.5 mile tracks, fans call them “cookie-cutters”, but I’ve seen broadcasters go out of their way to attack that term. I saw that again today with John Roberts on Speed saying “don’t call them cookie-cutters”. Is there some NASCAR PR campaign to defend 1.5 tracks, since they’re a focus of fan criticism?

If NASCAR hears something they don’t like they’re probably going to let the broadcast teams know, but there is no edict from on high telling the broadcast teams how to behave. I think more of what you’re seeing is the teams being hyper-vigilant about what they’re saying so as not to diminish the product that their employer is paying a lot of money to broadcast. With the way ratings are ESPN knows better than anyone they don’t need a negative narrative from their broadcast team. – Journo

9. From Robert:

If KBM closes, where do you think Rick Ren will go? No one in NASCAR, would let a crew chief like this go to waste.

It really depends on Rick Ren.  I don’t know what his motivations are, or what type of position he would want (crew chief or director of competition like he is now), but I’m sure he could probably have any job in the Truck Series that he wanted.  There would certainly be no shortage of teams beating down his door to get him.  Don’t be so certain that KBM is closing next season though.  Even if they don’t run every race, I wouldn’t be surprised if KBM still existed in some form next year. – T.C.

10. From Billy:

How does NASCAR’s approval process for new drivers work?

Drivers must submit a resume to NASCAR for consideration.  Brett Bodine, who works as NASCAR’s Director of Cost Research makes most of the decisions about who gets approved for what.  Usually, drivers must start out in a lower series on tracks a mile and under, then they will get approved for 1.5 to two mile tracks, and finally the superspeedways.  It’s totally a judgement call on NASCAR’s part however – drivers like Juan Pablo Montoya and Danica Patrick were approved for bigger races much quicker because of their past experience. – T.C.

11. From Robert:

Any rumors or ideas as to what is going on at RCR in regards to a second truck team? Rumors had it for awhile that his other grandson, TY, would sit in a truck next season.

As far as we have heard, RCR is working toward having two Truck Series teams next season, one for Austin and one for Ty.  It’s interesting to note though, that Ty won’t turn 18 in time to run Daytona.  His birthday is February 27th, so he wouldn’t be able to make his series debut until the March 12th race at Darlington. – 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!

Ask The Insiders Wednesday #96

Posted by on Sep 13, 2018 in Ask the Insiders, Nascar |

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!