Ask The Insiders Wednesday #44

Oct 7th, 2009 by T.C.

We’ve got a short list of questions this week before the Cup and Nationwide Series head to California.  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 Ed:

What do you think of this idea:  no pits stops during caution periods.  Some of the advantages I see are as follows.  Save money,teams will not be putting on tires at every caution even if not needed.  Safety,not as many cars on pit road.  Less caution flag laps,get the beer can off the track and go.  No waiting for the lap cars to pit.  Teams not getting screwed because a caution comes after they pit on green.  It would be interesting to watch how crew chiefs would manage the race.

Not to insult your plan, but I’m not a fan of it. I don’t really see how that saves money, but even if it does I like free reign pit stops. Part of what I like about NASCAR is all the strategy that goes into it. As much as it’s about the driver, in order to win races and perform well it’s about your entire crew. Limiting pit stops would limit the competition in my eyes and I don’t like that. – Journo

2. From Safemike1:

So how come Carl Long got a suspension and fine for having an engine displacement of 358.15 instead of 358, and Jimmy Johnson;s car is .006 out of line and no fine or suspension? Pretty much any car that is out of tolerances has been fined by NASCAR and given points loss or even probation.  Isn’t it time that NASCAR enforce the rules the same all across the board?

Listen I don’t want to speak for NASCAR’s decision making on issues like this (I wasn’t there), but NASCAR doesn’t do itself any favors when this stuff happens. And there are definitely a lot of folks in the garage who weren’t pleased with this. In NASCAR’s defense Carl Long was fined so heavily because he was found with an oversized engine. Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin were pushing it with their bodies and arguably within the tolerance. At the end of the day this is an area that everybody screws with. I’m not saying NASCAR was right or wrong with their decision, but I agree with you that when stuff like this happens it looks bad. – Journo

3. From Tom:

How are teams selected to test tires for Goodyear?  Sorry if this was asked before, I missed it..Thanks

Goodyear usually selects one representative from two to three manufacturers to participate in tests.  They try and do it on a rotating basis. – T.C.

4. From Kenny:

How much performance difference do you get from 4 fresh tires instead of 2? If you had two identical cars starting from the same position on the track, about how long would it take for the car with 4 fresh Goodyears to overtake the one which had only fresh right-sides?  The 14 took 2 on his last stop and still pulled away from the field at the end of the race at Kansas. If you don’t get that much more from 4, why not take 2 every other pit stop just to gain position? Take lefts only often enough to make sure you don’t get blow-outs.  I’m also wondering about sticker tires. I see all the side to side steering to warm up the tires after a round of pit stops during cautions and at the beginning of a race, so I wonder if you lose performance when you make a green-flag stop. Would NASCAR permit a back-marker team running laps for position to scuff sticker tires for other teams?

The effect of four tires versus two really depends on the track.  At a track like Darlington that is very hard on tires, you almost never see a team only take two.  There is no formula for how quickly a car with four fresh tires would overtake a car with two fresh tires.  Tony Stewart was able to stay out front on two tires at Kansas because of that infamous “clean air.”  Being mired back in traffic negates some of the benefits of four tires.  In regards to new tires after green flag stops, drivers know that it will take a few laps at speed for the temps to come up and for the tires to be at their best.  This really happens after all pit stops, not just green flag stops. – T.C.

5. From Rain:

During Sunday’s race, Brad K was told by NASCAR to drive less aggressively around the chasers.  It sort of angered me. Isn’t that his job??? To win a race?

I’m going to straddle the fence on this one. I understand where NASCAR is coming from because you don’t want Brad K. to wreck one of the Chasers and that to impact the championship. On the other side of things he’s out there to race hard and win. That is his job. I don’t think I personally have a good way to look at this situation, but I think you’re justified in being irritated, whatever that’s worth. Here’s a good back and forth about the incident on – Journo

6. From Karen:

What are pit officials looking for when tires are changed?  In other words, I can see that they could easily tell if a lugnut was dropped, but how do they know from a distance that one is loose?  Do they look different?   How can they tell something like that?  Is it an exact science or is it subjective?   (p.s. I bet you can guess why I’m asking that question.  I hate to see a good run – finally! – ruined by something like that, and I really don’t want to hear that it’s one of those judgement calls but I’m betting it is! LOL)

The officials are looking to see if all the lugnuts are on the studs.  The rule specifically says “all lugnuts must be installed before the car leaves the assigned pit box.”  I’m guessing you are referring to Dale Jr’s pit stop at Kansas, and it is my understanding that a lugnut was missing, not loose.  I’ve never heard of a team being penalized by NASCAR for a loose lugnut, because there is really no way for an official to tell if a lugnut is loose or tight. – 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!