Ask The Insiders Wednesday #42

Sep 23rd, 2009 by T.C.

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

1. From Pat:

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

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

2. From Ric:

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

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

3. From Matt:

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

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

4. From Steve:

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

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

5. From Kenny:

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

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

6. From Amy:

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

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

7. From Amy:

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

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

8. From Doug:

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

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

9. From red8814:

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

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

10. From ronfrankl via Twitter:

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

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

11. From 4wide via Twitter:

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

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

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