Ask The Insiders Wednesday #95

The Chase heads west this week for a little racing action, California style.  While we dream of surf and sun, here are more of our answers to your NASCAR questions.  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 Christa:

I don’t normally bash the race broadcast, but the coverage by ESPN on Sunday was HORRIBLE!! Cutting to commercial during green with 10 to go is inexcusable. My question is this, any chance NASCAR can pressure them to put on a decent show? Or do you think outcry from the fans is the only solution? I’ve already sent them an angry email to do my part, but I’d like to hear your thoughts. Thanks!

NASCAR can certainly put pressure on them to change things, but at the end of the day it’s ESPN’s call. I really hate to say this, and I’m not necessarily advocating it, but the best way to show ESPN you don’t like their product is to tune out (or DVR it). The emails and letters don’t hurt. They’re looking at it right now anyway thanks to the large ratings declines over the last three races. You aren’t alone in your feelings on this – if you ever check out The Daly Planet this has been a constant complaint from many viewers. In fact JD did a writeup on the ESPN ratings issue today. – Journo

2. From Jeanette:

Hi guys. Perhaps you can settle a discussion that took place while my boyfriend and I were watching qualifying recently. When a crew chief tells the driver after his lap “P-4″ or “P-whatever”, does the P stand for position? provisional?

Whoever said it stood for position is the winner. The crew chief, or spotter will tell the driver p whatever to let them know where they stand in qualifying, practice, or the race. – Journo

3. From Anonymous:

Hey guys, love the website! Keep doing what you’re doing! This may seem like a silly question but I often notice after a race that when pit reporters are doing postrace interviews, many times the drivers are already changed into street clothes. Are the drivers fast in the shower in addition to being fast on the track or do the TV producers ‘collapse time’ and make things look like they are happening quicker than they really are? Many thanks!

Thanks! No silly questions here. No time collapse, the drivers you see who have changed have enough time to go back to the hauler (generally they do it in the lounge) to change out of their firesuits. – Journo

4. From brian:

Years ago Petty put Wilson in the 44 car after he retired. He had to change the number back to #43 b/c the NASCAR rule was if you don’t use it you lose it. Why isn’t the same with the #3. It is always said Childress has the #, but if he isn’t using it why can’t someone else use it?

Technically, no team owns a number.  NASCAR owns all the numbers and grants permission to the teams to use them.  So really, if somebody wanted to use the number, they could petition NASCAR to get it.  However, I think nobody asking to use it is more of a respect thing than anything else. – T.C.

5. From Michael in SoCal:

Hi guys. I just watched this week’s Whelen Southern Modified race on Versus and there was mention of Langley Speedway winner, Tim Brown, who was going to race at Tri-County Speedway. Jack Arute & Jimmy Spencer mentioned that Brown, who works for Michael Waltrip Racing, was called out to Phoenix by MWR for testing there. I thought testing was banned at any track where the top three series race? Any insight as to what this was all about? Thanks.

Just because he was called to Phoenix to do a test doesn’t necessarily mean they were at Phoenix International Raceway.  I don’t recall any Goodyear tire tests there this season, so I doubt that’s where they went.  I would imagine that the test was at the Toyota Proving Grounds in Wittman, AZ.  The facility is about an hour and a half outside of Phoenix.  – T.C.

6. From David:

With all the Nationwide series rookies getting the boot do you think that NASCAR needs to have contracts like the NFL or NBA???

You’ve got to feel for these guys, but the structure of NASCAR makes it difficult to have a labor union like you see in the NFL or the NBA. The drivers are independent contractors in NASCAR – they work individually for teams, who at the end of the day have no stake in the sport as a whole – which is quite different than other major American sports leagues where the owners make up the league. I think there is an argument to be made that these guys need more protections, but how exactly to do that I don’t know. – Journo

7. From Jon:

I have a few questions… but before I begin first I wanna say I love the blog, I’ve written in a few times and you guys always answer my questions! You guys do a 100x better job than NASCAR PR LOL. 1. I was looking at some old race results at and noticed in ’95 and ’96, both races (when phx featured just 1 event) had 44 cars. why? when/how did nascar decide on the 43 car field # and what dictated the # before? 2. i’m pretty sure i’ve read this somewhere/heard it on a broadcast, but i’m not 100% sure. let’s say two guys tie at the end of the season w/ the same # of points. the driver with the most wins gets the better spot in the points, right? do they have tiebreakers to determine who takes the higher spot in points after wins (if they are still tied)? 3. why hasn’t nascar considered running more nationwide one-off events? if they want to get cup regulars out, woudln’t it make more sense to run the events in tandem with say a truck or arca or IRL event, at a venue where the cup series isn’t? if they did this more than just the 3 times a year (i think?) that they do this now, to say like, 9-10, wouldn’t it be way more likely a regular would win rather than a cup series regular? i’m just looking for slightly easier “fixes” for the Nationwide series, as opposed to some ridiculous idea of leaving Cup regulars out of the points championship.

For a much better explanation of why we have 43 car fields, and the situation you mention at Phoenix, check out this piece by Dave Rodman from the 2002 season.  In regards to ties in the point system, the NASCAR rule book says that if two drivers are tied, the tie will be broken by which driver has the most first place finishes.  If they are still tied, it then goes to second place finishes, third places finish, and so on and so forth.  If a tie still remains after that, “the driver having the highest finishing position first during the current season prevails.”  And to your question about more standalone events, I honestly have no idea.  The Nationwide/Busch Series did used to run more events by itself, but over the course of the last decade or so, most of the schedule has been changed to run in conjunction with the Cup Series.  It’s probably more about drawing more fans to the track and offering more entertainment for a weekend than anything else. – T.C.

8. From Craig:

Does NASCAR give directives to the broadcast teams about what to talk about or what not to criticize? Example, when it comes to 1.5 mile tracks, fans call them “cookie-cutters”, but I’ve seen broadcasters go out of their way to attack that term. I saw that again today with John Roberts on Speed saying “don’t call them cookie-cutters”. Is there some NASCAR PR campaign to defend 1.5 tracks, since they’re a focus of fan criticism?

If NASCAR hears something they don’t like they’re probably going to let the broadcast teams know, but there is no edict from on high telling the broadcast teams how to behave. I think more of what you’re seeing is the teams being hyper-vigilant about what they’re saying so as not to diminish the product that their employer is paying a lot of money to broadcast. With the way ratings are ESPN knows better than anyone they don’t need a negative narrative from their broadcast team. – Journo

9. From Robert:

If KBM closes, where do you think Rick Ren will go? No one in NASCAR, would let a crew chief like this go to waste.

It really depends on Rick Ren.  I don’t know what his motivations are, or what type of position he would want (crew chief or director of competition like he is now), but I’m sure he could probably have any job in the Truck Series that he wanted.  There would certainly be no shortage of teams beating down his door to get him.  Don’t be so certain that KBM is closing next season though.  Even if they don’t run every race, I wouldn’t be surprised if KBM still existed in some form next year. – T.C.

10. From Billy:

How does NASCAR’s approval process for new drivers work?

Drivers must submit a resume to NASCAR for consideration.  Brett Bodine, who works as NASCAR’s Director of Cost Research makes most of the decisions about who gets approved for what.  Usually, drivers must start out in a lower series on tracks a mile and under, then they will get approved for 1.5 to two mile tracks, and finally the superspeedways.  It’s totally a judgement call on NASCAR’s part however – drivers like Juan Pablo Montoya and Danica Patrick were approved for bigger races much quicker because of their past experience. – T.C.

11. From Robert:

Any rumors or ideas as to what is going on at RCR in regards to a second truck team? Rumors had it for awhile that his other grandson, TY, would sit in a truck next season.

As far as we have heard, RCR is working toward having two Truck Series teams next season, one for Austin and one for Ty.  It’s interesting to note though, that Ty won’t turn 18 in time to run Daytona.  His birthday is February 27th, so he wouldn’t be able to make his series debut until the March 12th race at Darlington. – 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!