Ask The Insiders Wednesday #86

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!