Ask The Insiders Wednesday #43

Sep 30th, 2009 by T.C.

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

1. From Steve:

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

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

2. From Walt:

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

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

3. From Larry:

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

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

4. From Dan:

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

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

5. From Martha:

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

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

6. From Jeanette:

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

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

7. From Denny:

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

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

8. From Lee:

I thought Hendrick always prides itself on their open book policy.  So why then is Johnson bragging about some small adjustment they made, when it seems the other Hendrick teams don’t know what that adjustment was. It’s from this article the phrase below:

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

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

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

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

9. From Phil:

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

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

10. From windowlicker:

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

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

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