Ask The Insiders Wednesday #46

Oct 21st, 2009 by T.C.

We’ve got a good batch of questions for you this week, and many from some new names which is great to see!  Remember, there are no stupid questions here, and even if we’ve answered a question in the past, we will answer it again.  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 Scott:

How are the rims handled in NASCAR?  Does Goodyear haul them from race to race?  If Goodyear always has the rims do they check them for damage and how are old and new rims rotated in and out of the line up?  Thanks, and I love your website!

A company called Champion Tire & Wheel hauls all of the wheels for the teams to the track, and they also store them and check them for damage before the races.  Champion also transports the pit boxes and some other equipment for most Cup teams and many of the Nationwide teams. – T.C.

2. From Donald:

What happend to Scott Riggs. I haven’t heard his name anywhere for the last 2 months.

As far as I know he’s out there looking, like a lot of other guys. I don’t really know anything specific, sorry. – Journo

3. From Sue:

Does NASCAR prior to qualifying ever check the fuel in the cars  to verify that additional additives such as more alcohol were not added by the teams?

If NASCAR wants a fuel sample, they usually do it after qualifying is over. – T.C.

4. From fanwanzabee:

Were there as many empty seats at Saturday’s race as it seemed to me watching on TV.  This is bad news for all,  When I go to a race, about half my money goes to other things than tickets.

Yes. I’m not good at estimating how many were in the crowd, but attendance was the worst I’ve ever seen at Lowes. Tom Sorenson at the Charlotte Observer wrote a little bit about it. This season has definitely been different. Charlotte in the last few years has been one of those tracks where you could get tickets up until race time, but the crowd has always been pretty good. It’ll be interesting to see how attendance does next season. – Journo

5. From Woogeroo:

With all the hullabaloo over consistent start times and things, I started wondering what exactly that meant. Talking heads start time? National Anthem singing? The fly over? Green flag waving? I miss the days when you turned on the race and they were on the parade lap. I’m glad NASCAR gets coverage and all, but jeez… I really only care about the race. -W

All that means is that the official start time will be standardized. That still means the race won’t start for 15-20 minutes after that “start time.”  – Journo

6. From Anonymous:

What is it that is making the 48 team so good? I do not believe Jimmie is a better driver than Tony, Jeff or even Carl and Kyle. It’s hard to believe other teams haven’t figured it out yet. Are the resources and “under the hood talent”  that much different between the A level teams??

Like I said in my post today, if I knew exactly what the answer to this question was, I’d be a rich man.  My guess is that it’s not necessarily that one of the parts is better, it’s that the sum of the parts is just a bit better.  Jimmie + Chad + Hendrick equipment + team 48 = success.  I promise you though, teams are working overtime trying to figure out how to beat the 48. – T.C.

7. From Ella:

I don’t understand how there can be such a difference in performance in COT cars from the same stable.  It is said that the crew chiefs share information among themselves but then you have Carl Edwards limping along while his teammates run much faster.  Same with Earnhardt and his team mates.  One would think there would be more parity.  What things make a difference?

You’ve got to remember that every driver wants their car setup differently.  What works for Jimmie Johnson might not necessarily work for the other three Hendrick drivers; and vice versa.  So copying the 48’s setup exactly won’t make Jeff Gordon run as good.  The teams share information, but drivers and crews need to know how to use and apply that information the best possible way to go fast.  And you also need to keep in mind that we are still very earlier in the life cycle of the COT.  Teams are still doing a ton of R&D to figure out what the car needs to be really good. – T.C.

8. From Big John:

Great site guys!  If a team picks up a new sponsor during a race weekend, is there a grafix company that travels the circuit that can make decals for the cars?

I don’t believe any of the graphics companies have a mobile operation, but I do believe that they will overnight decals to a track if they have enough warning.  If it’s too late for that, I’d imagine a team would have to track down somebody locally to get the printing done.  Maybe if somebody from TDS or Motorsports Designs reads our blog they could give us more details. – T.C.

9. From Ron:

We tend to take for granted improved safety in NASCAR, thanks to advancements like the COT, SAFER barrier, etc.  My question is, has any Cup driver missed seat time this season due to an injury received on the track?  I can’t recall any.

Not any Cup drivers. We’ve seen some pretty gnarly wrecks, but thankfully, thanks in large part to these safer features, no one has been seriously injured. Off track is a different story. Turns out walking on your dock and playing Frisbee is more dangerous than driving a stock car.  – Journo

10. From Roger:

Todays post about the #48 got me thinking a little about cautions that are called. Sometimes (especially late in a race), a caution will come out for debris which turns out to be a water bottle, obviously thrown out of one of the cars.  A situation like this usually ends up with 3 to 5 laps under the yellow and everyone (who wants to) pitting. This changes the strategy and dynamics of the race and could be blamed on a driver (at least in my mind!)  Why does NASCAR treat an obvious and possibly planned strategy as it does? In my opinion, they should check/clear the track as necessary and get back to racing with the pits closed all the time during that yellow.

Unless there is video of a driver doing something blatant, there really is no way to know where debris came from.  It could have been a water bottle out of the stands.  I know in the past drivers have tried to tear off pieces of roll bar padding and throw them out windows to cause a caution.  Sometimes they got away with it, and sometimes they got caught.  Wasn’t it Carl Edwards that got busted a few years ago for this?  Either way, I don’t think NASCAR is going to start saying which caution periods you can and can’t pit during.  If they did, people would probably start saying that NASCAR was only allowing teams to pit during a certain caution because it benefited a Dale Jr. or a Jimmie Johnson. -T.C.

11. From Ben:

Now that the #48 and #5 have passed NASCAR extended tech inspection 3 weeks in a row has Jack Roush backed off on his “Hendrick is cheating” rant.  Reminds me his “Tiregate” accusations…

Jack Roush is a little like Felix Sabates. He likes to open his mouth from time to time and complain or just say generally outlandish things. He’s Jack Roush though and he can get away with it. – Journo

12. From Chris:

If JPM were to win the Championship would this give F1 fans bigger egos about being better drivers?

I don’t think so. I think it would be a testament to Juan’s talent though. – 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!