Ask The Insiders Wednesday #29

Jun 23rd, 2009 by T.C.

As the summer continues to roll along, we have reached the 29th edition of Ask The Insiders Wednesday.  These posts continue to gain in popularity every week, and I’ve been told by many of you that ATIW is what you look forward to the most.  That’s great to hear, and if you keep sending in the questions, we will keep trying to answer them!  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 from Canada:

On June 17th’s version of Ask the Insiders TC said that “there are no computer systems in today’s Cup, Nationwide, or Truck Series vehicles.”  Well just how the heck do the TV stations get access to throttle/brake/RPM and speed data?  Speed I could see coming from a GPS unit and the scoring/timing points but it wouldn’t be accurate to the foot as it appears to be.  So?  And do the teams have direct access to this information or do they get it from TV or NASCAR?  And (#2) if they get the RPM data is it part of the fuel mileage calculations that causes them fits at various tracks.  Sorry for the length but thanks for the answers!

I feel like I’ve been called out here.  First, cars don’t have onboard computers, but some will have an onboard telemetry box and GPS unit that transmits back to the TV trucks.  Information provided from these devices is what is used to create the telemetry you see on TV.  A company called SportVision provides the equipment.  But teams are not allowed access to this information, so as far as they are concerned, there are no onboard systems.  Fuel mileage calculations are based on weather conditions and previous data gathered (engine performance, driver habits, etc.). – T.C.

2. From mangopants:

I’m new to the sport and have a very elementary question – is it “Pit Road” or “Pit Row”?   I’ve seen it written both ways, and just can’t distinguish when the announcers say it.

The two are really interchangeable.  In NASCAR, you will hear it more often referred to as pit road.  By the way, welcome to the sport and thanks for stopping by TNI!  – T.C.

3. From Measure:

How are the drivers reacting to Carlos Pardo’s death?  Is there a serious investigation being done by NASCAR to make sure changes can be made to prevent that kind of crash in the future?

Honestly I haven’t heard a lot about it. I think everyone was pretty shocked by the accident, especially because this is a guy that a lot of people in the garage had interacted with. That being said it is not exactly the response if it were closer to home. Also remember this series is more comparable to a late model series than to the Sprint Cup Series and as such the safety equipment is much less advanced. While I’m sure there will be an investigation I don’t know if there will be any major changes as a result of this. – Journo

4. From August:

Sometimes, after practice or “happy hour,” you’ll hear a crew chief or driver state that they have a really aggressive setup in the car.  What exactly does this mean? Are they setting up the car to the point where their options are limited on changing the handling of the car once the race begins? By the way, you guys have become a must-hit on the internet everyday since I stumbled upon this site a few months ago. Keep it up.

I would take that to mean they have the car set up to run as fast as possible, most likely over the short run.  For example, qualifying setups are normally aggressive, i.e., nose taped up, tires pumped up, etc.  The car will run fast over a very short run, but in race conditions would then fall off very quickly.  Also, aggressive setups are usually uncomfortable for drivers.  They will be fast, but they will require the driver to really hang it out. – T.C.

5. From Joel:

Why is pit road closed at times – especially right after a yellow flag?  PS: Love you guys – keep up the great work!

Don’t quote me on this, but I believe pit road is closed right at the point of caution so no driver can gain an advantage by being able to duck down early and get their pit stop done before the other teams have a shot.  If a car could pit before everyone else, they would then be out front when the remainder of the field pitted.  Also, if a wreck or caution happens near the entrance, they will close pit road to allow the safety workers to do their job. – T.C.

6. From Jon:

I hate to ask about auto racing other than NASCAR… but I know you guys are fans of racing in general.  I am an avid reader and have asked you guys a few questions, to which I was very thankful for your replies!  I hope you answer this but if not I understand… have you heard of the radical news about the FOTA (Formula One Teams Association) pulling out of F1 for 2010?  This is essentially every major F1 brand (Ferrari, Brawn, McLaren, Red Bull, etc) pulling out.  It would be like Roush, Hendrick, Gibbs and RCR pulling out of NASCAR!  It unfortunately also resembles the CART/IRL split that ruined American open wheel racing (AOWR) more or less.  Do you guys really think that Max Mosley isn’t going to give in?  It seems like if he doesn’t, he’ll basically lose the crown jewel of racing abroad.  I realize NASCAR probably gets more TV viewers, but I think F1’s impact on the world of auto racing is even more far reaching than NASCAR.  I love the technology and the skill it requires to run F1 and I hate the thought of it being compromised like the CART split compromised AOWR.

I actually think this split is a lot more comparable to the USAC-CART split in the late-70s. That being said my first instinct is that the teams are posturing to get their way. I know the heads of these organizations are pretty angry with the leadership of F1 and they are very serious about starting a breakaway series, but I truly believe they both know for better or worse they need each other. It sounds like Max Mosley is attempting to re-engage the teams, but what ultimately happens is hard to say. Should this split ultimately occur, I think it will be incredibly ugly. In the end, it would be a shame to have this globally loved series destroyed by bickering and infighting. – Journo

7. From Brian:

I saw this picture from the Nationwide race at Milwaukee: http://twitpic.com/7yhn0 How much PSI do teams typically start on their tires and how much PSI do the tires gain over a typical green-flag run?

Unfortunately I can’t really give you a hard and fast answer on this one.  Initial pressures and what the tires build over a run is really going to depend on the track, the series, and the conditions.  Usually at short tracks teams will start pressures (especially fronts) very low because the tires will build a lot more due to the added heat from brake use.  I’ve seen tires with PSIs in the single digits before.  And rights will be different front lefts, as will fronts vs. rears.  Rights will usually build more because of the forces on them, and front vs. rear depends on the car’s setup. – T.C.

8. From Ric:

Do you guys practice and/or plan what you will do in situations of a damaged car coming in? Who grabs what, where to cut or not to cut, what has to be done in what order, etc. When working on a damaged car does the same group go over a wall to fix it, or would say the gas man stay back so an ignition specialist can check something out? Can different people go over the wall as long as the number stays at / below 7?

Yes, most teams will at least have a basic plan of who will do what when there is damage to be fixed over the wall.  And yes, different guys can go over the wall as long as the number doesn’t exceed seven.  Especially in the case of engines, you want your engine tuner over the wall in one of those situations because he is going to be able to best diagnose a problem. – T.C.

9. From Savannah:

Okay guys, since we are now about 10 races away from the Chase, it is time to ask your opinion on who will make the chase this year.  So, who will be the lucky 12 drivers?  Who do you think will be the surprise chase contender this year?  Do you think that Dale Jr will be in the Chase?  And if you’re feeling like taking a chance and looking into the crystal ball, who do you think will be the NASCAR Sprint Cup champion for 2009!  Remember,  this is just an opportunity for you to express your predictions.  Now, my crystal ball is still slightly cloudy- hopefully, y’all will have better luck with yours!  Thanks for answering all of the questions.

Actually if I had to pick a top-12 I really like the current standings. Obviously there is still a lot of room for movement, but given what we have seen this season, these are, in my opinion, the strongest 12. I don’t think Jr. will make the Chase this season. He has a lot of points to make up and unless he has a huge turn around quick, I don’t think this year is his. As far as who the Champion will be, I’m not ready to say quite yet, but I think Tony Stewart looks like a new man and those three Hendrick cars are very strong. Unfortunately my crystal ball is still very cloudy too. – Journo

10. From Steven:

How come some teams like Jay Robinson’s #49 and Dwayne Gaulding’ #21 start and park even though they have sponsorship? Are these teams offering companies (GetMoreVacations, Stock Car Steel, & Anderson’s Maple Syrup) space on the car for dirt cheap, or do they just give them a free ride?

You’re absolutely correct. They pay a few thousand dollars to have their names on the car for a few laps. The money isn’t enough to make it worthwhile for them to run the whole race. It’s just one more way for these start and park team owners to make money. – Journo

11. From Amy:

I was at the track in Sonoma and my two questions stem from my experience there:  1. We had prerace cold pit access and while walking up and down the pit boxes taking pictures I noticed of all things in the arsenal of stuff packed into one of the pitboxes a can of cooking spray (PAM to be exact).  WHY?  2. I took time sitting in both the grandstands on Friday and turn 7 on Sunday and noticed that with the elevation changes and turns- it must be a challenge to be a spotter at a track like that. Where were the spotters located? And do teams ever use more than one spotter at a road course?

First, teams will sometimes use cooking spray (such as PAM) on the wheels to avoid brake dust.  PAM can hold up to the heat, yet it won’t allow so much dust to collect on the wheels.  Second, spotting road courses is definitely a challenge.  At Sonoma, the spotters are located up towards turn two at the top of the hill.  They can see the majority of the track from there.  And teams will normally use more then one spotter at a track like this (especially Watkins Glen) because you don’t want to put your driver in a bad position because one guy can’t see the whole track. – T.C.

12. From Mike:

I have been given tickets to the Daytona 500 Club for 4th.  Can you see the race from here?  It looks nice online but do we sit at bar the whole race?  They’ll have to roll me out.

You know I’m not overly familiar with the Daytona 500 Club, but after looking around it looks like you can see the front stretch, but not the rest of the track. I’m sure there are TVs in the building though. With an open bar though, can you really go wrong? – Journo

13. From Kim:

Hi guys!  1.  Has any team in NASCAR switched manufacturers mid-season?  2. I was watching the set up in the cold pit at Sonoma (Bud team, of course!) and wondered what each of the four monitors on the pit box showed during the race, and also the two flat screens behind the box.  Thanks.

Me and Journo were discussing this one, and in the modern era, I don’t remember a team switching midseason.  I’m sure its happened in the past, but no specific situation stands out.  Maybe a reader knows?  For your second question, the monitors up top are used to display the race broadcast, the feed from timing and scoring, any engineering data for the crew chief and engineer to use in strategy, and whatever other miscellaneous computer programs teams use (like instant messengers).  The flat screens down low are also used to show the race broadcast, timing and scoring, and the playback from the pit stop camera(s). – T.C.

14. From Ric:

I have noticed that after the Catch Can Man waves his arms that the tank is full, they keep putting fuel in the car, until it?s down on all four tires, sometimes actually moving forward. I would think with the left side of the car up in the air more fuel would be in the tank, hoses, etc then when on all four tires. I do not believe the idling engine is burning that much fuel, so what is the story?

Normally what you are seeing is the catch can and fuel man trying to “pack” the car.  They are trying to make sure the fuel cell and the fill and overflow tubes have every drop of fuel in them possible.  The catch can man will wave when fuel comes out the overflow, then he and the gas man can work a carefully choreographed dance between the gas can and catch can and burp the system, filling it to the gills. – T.C.

15. From Dianne:

How long do we have to tolerate ESPN/TNT coverage?  I am already sick of having to try and find races on TV. Fox was Fox and ABC was ABC! Now I gotta hunt to watch a race let alone listen to those know-nothing broadcasters. Bring me D.W. and Larry Mac!!! at least they KNOW racing…

Well you’ll have to deal with it at least until the end of the season. Beyond that I believe TV contracts are up in 2014. To be frank what we have now is much better then the TV situation 10+ years ago. Prior to now each track operator held their own TV contracts. And at that point in time you had more than just two major track operators. Literally you had a race on a different channel every week. As far as your comment on Larry McReynolds goes, he’s on TNT too. – 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!

Ask The Insiders Wednesday #42

Sep 23rd, 2009 by T.C.

One Chase race down, nine to go.  It’s Wednesday again, so if you’ve got questions, we try really hard to have answers.  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 Pat:

Simple question: what tool do the pit crews typically use to pry the fenders up off the tire after contact? Is it just a pry bar or something more specialized? Thanks!

Teams use everything from their hands, to hammers and baseball bats, to specialized tools.  Roush has a fender rolling tool they developed some years back that some teams use. – T.C.

2. From Ric:

I have heard that the Michael Waltrip we see on TV is not the real Michael Waltrip. That he just plays the country boy / hick  / hillbilly /  country bumpkin /  image. Any truth to that? Are other drivers out there that are totally different on TV / in front of the fans, then they are in real life / behind the scenes?

I think to some extent the TV side of Michael you see isn’t real.  He’s not quite as funny and goofy as he’d like you to think he is.  And I think because of how corporate NASCAR has become, drivers are more polished when they are on TV and in front of the fans.  They are going to be a little different when they are just around friends or their teams and can loosen the collar a bit. – T.C.

3. From Matt:

What plans does Hendrick have for Landon Cassill? I thought he would have been a perfect driver for the 88 car in NW.

I honestly don’t know of any plans. I believe he is still doing testing for Hendrick and he is running some dirt modified races, but as far as next year goes, I haven’t heard anything. I too think Landon would have been a good candidate for that ride, but with Bires you get someone with a bit more experience and a little bit more assurance. – Journo

4. From Steve:

Each team has their tires for the race laid out in rows behind the pit box. Is there anything to this, are the tires in any particular order?  Or is a tire a tire?  And while I saw pressures being checked before the race, are pressures double checked just before they’re used?

Before the race, all sets of tires will be numbered and then will be used in the race according to a specific order.  The tire specialists will match tires according to stagger, and strategy will dictate which order the sets are used (for example, when to use stickers and when to use scuffs). – T.C.

5. From Kenny:

What do you hear about the #9’s engine? I kinda wonder if someone who was upset about the lay-off notices at RPM might have just forgotten to tighten a bolt, or fasten a nut…

We actually heard it was a broken crankshaft that did Kahne in. Honestly I can see where all the conspiracy theories are coming from, but it’s just not true. Not only would the sabotage have had to have been the greatest the sabotage ever (he makes it 66 laps, qualifying and several practice sessions?), but despite many of these guys probably losing their jobs at the end of the season, they are still looking at bonuses if Kahne wins the championship. In the end they would only be hurting themselves. I honestly believe it was nothing more than a coincidence. – Journo

6. From Amy:

My question revolves around Tony Stewart’s loose (broken?)  axle cap at Louden. One of the announcers said during the broadcast that they probably didn’t even need to bother to fix it? If that is they case why did the team take the time (losing positions) to fix the issue?

The rear axles actually have two caps.  The first is a flat cap that actually holds the axle in the tube.  The second cap screws to the first cap and is a cone shape.  It aids the tire carriers in indexing the new tires during pit stops.  The cap that gave Stewart trouble was the outer, cone shaped cap.  It sounded like the screws were not tightened properly and came loose.  Not fixing the loose cap wouldn’t have led to any mechanical failures, but it would have made subsequent pit stops very difficult for the rear tire carrier, probably resulting in slow pit stops. – T.C.

7. From Amy:

Here is another question I just thought of- this one is directed more towards T.C.  In the last two races, two different crew members have sustained hits on pit road during stops.  In this article on NASCAR.COM (http://www.nascar.com/2009/news/features/09/22/five.things.dwayne.moore.dreutimann/index.html) Dwayne Moore (hit by Tony Stewart at Richmond) mentions  that drivers who hit crew members should get penalized (he specifically mentions tail end). Do you think this is a good idea? When you are over the wall how much trust do you put in the drivers around your pitstall? Is there a way to make it safer?

It might not be a bad thing to consider.  If drivers knew they would be penalized for hitting a guy, they might be more careful.  But the problem is, is none of these incidents happen on purpose.  Drivers aren’t trying to hit guys.  These end up being wrong place, wrong time type of situations and there just isn’t enough time for either party to react quickly enough.  When I’m over the wall, I just have to hope that my guys around me will watch my back and that the drivers are paying attention.  But part of doing what we do is knowing that there is a chance you could get hit.  That is why we now wear firesuits and helmets. – T.C.

8. From Doug:

I feel the new restart rule in the cup series has had an unexpected fall out. It seems now since the lap down cars don’t get any air time (by starting on the inside of the front runners), that sponsors are pulling out and will continue to do so. Since NNWS has gone to this rule you’ll start seeing this trend also.

I’m not really sure what evidence there is of this. I can promise the recent announcements by Jack and Jim had nothing to do with the restart rule. Other than them, I can’t think of any sponsors at any level pulling out. The TV the back markers get really wasn’t all that great before the restart rule, and still remains not great. TV exposure while important, is not the only reason a company sponsors a Cup car though. I don’t think the restart rule has/will have any effect on sponsorships. – Journo

9. From red8814:

Hey TC, when a car ends up backwards in the pit like Ragan did this past weekend, are there any changes in who does what on the stop?  Also, can you extend our “get well soon!” thoughts to Clint Pittman?  You guys in the pits don’t get enough credit for everything you do in the middle of that chaos!

Teams will usually keep their positions, but the problem lies in the tires.  With fronts now in the rear, the rears now in the front, and the sides swapped, guys have to be real careful about knowing which tires they are putting on.  They end up needing to swap tires front to rear, and left to right. – T.C.

10. From ronfrankl via Twitter:

Which teams are likely to have sponsorship issues in the closing weeks of the season? Any teams that might fold?

None that I’m aware of before the end of the season. As far as next season goes, look to those teams, even individually within bigger organizations, that have lost sponsors or are having trouble finding sponsorship. Most of those problems are ones that have been well publicized. – Journo

11. From 4wide via Twitter:

With 5 tracks in the Chase that have lights, why only one Saturday night race and the rest on Sunday against the NFL?

I think this is simple. ABC needs something to go against the NFL on Sundays and they have NASCAR. While in a lot of situations the NFL game is going to do better than the NASCAR race, it will still give ABC a formidable NFL opponent. – 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!

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 articlehttp://sports.espn.go.com/rpm/nascar/cup/columns/story?columnist=newton_david&idE09691and 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!

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 NASCAR.com. – 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!

Ask The Insiders Wednesday #45

Oct 14th, 2009 by T.C.

It’s a home game this week, as both the Nationwide and Cup cars take to the 1.5 mile Lowes Motor Speedway in Concord.  But while the season starts winding to a close, ATIW keeps chugging along.  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 Justin:

Are wheels weighed by NASCAR? Never heard anything about teams lightening wheels so I’m assuming the answer is yes.

I’ve never seen a wheel weighed personally, but the rule book says they must weigh a minimum of 27 pounds uncoated and without valve hardware. – T.C.

2. From Ricky:

What really makes me mad is the fact that Dave Blaney is a great racer, and yet he drives a Start & Park car… I remember the spring race at Talladega where he led quite a few laps….and then he got spun out and parked it! I believe if he would have stayed out there he would have had a good chance at a good finish! I was so angered by the situation! The whole deal of Start and Parks angers me. If you are going to race in NASCAR’s top series, then race! Don’t go out and be whimps and park it. What do you think about this? How did you feel when Blaney put that car up front, then parked it just because of a lousy spin? I really thought that was a bonehead move… I am a big fan of Dave Blaney. Please help cool heads prevail and tell me… WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?!

The answer is they were taking the money and running. That’s the whole purpose of the start and parks. Instead of running the risk that they’ll wreck their equipment by running the whole race, they make a few laps and take the guaranteed money. For their intended purposes and the strength of their equipment it really wasn’t a bonehead move. Whether you agree with it or not, they’re becoming a fact of life. Trust me though, NASCAR is not a fan. – Journo

3. From Dot:

Regarding burning and scraping tires. How do you know when to stop scraping? What happens if you go to far?  Regarding loose/missing lugnuts.  If one is loose or missing (and missed by the official), wouldn’t the other ones hold the tire on?

Scraping a tire after a race run is done to get any excess rubber and garbage off the tread so an accurate tread depth reading can be made.  The tire specialist only scrapes that excess off.  I’m not even sure you could go too far and scrape any of the tread off.  And yes, if there are only four lugs tight they will probably hold the tire on for a while.  But would you really want to take the chance that they don’t hold?  I know I wouldn’t. – T.C.

4. From Jason:

What is the typical amount that a business pays to sponsor a truck in the Camping World Truck series?  I’ve read things like $20 – 30 million for Cup and $15 – 8 million for Nationwide. But I have never heard any number for the truck series. Thank you!

For a full season with a decent team you’re looking at $2 million to $5 million. As far as your Cup Series number goes, many are below that $20 million mark. – Journo

5. From David:

Why do the tires have red stripe on the side wall?

Tires have colored tape on the sidewalls for the tire carriers.  They use that mark to line up the stud holes when they are indexing a tire during a pit stop.  See more about this here. – T.C.

6. From PrincessStewart14:

It has been reported tonight, by Marty Smith, Jim Utter and Jeff Gluck to name a few, that Tom Logano had his hard card pulled for ‘gesturing at Greg Biffle postrace’ [via Marty Smith on Twitter] What are some other things NASCAR would take your hard card? Just what they would deem bad behaviour or harmful?

NASCAR could probably take a hard card for whatever reason they wanted.  Hard cards are technically owned by NASCAR, and they can use the taking of one as punishment.  I’m sure John Darby, Joe Balash, and/or Wayne Auton could probably answer this one better then I can. – T.C.

7. From Michael:

Whatever happened to Fatback Mcswain?

You know that’s a good question and one I don’t have an answer for. Does anyone know anything about Fatback’s whereabouts?

8. From Jeff in SoCal:

Ok so I have to say it! The Nationwide series race was way more entertaining than the Sprint cup race at Auto Club this week. What gives?  Also what would you guys do to tighten up the field in a very cool(love how huge it is), yet boring race track?

I think because we saw more cautions during the NNS race, the field was bunched up more.  When that happens, there is bound to be more side by side racing and more action.  Double file restarts have helped too.  And I have no idea how to fix the racing at Auto Club Speedway.  Maybe tear it down and start over again? – T.C.

9. From Stephen:

I listened to AJ Allmendinger’s post race interview with ESPN at California and to me it sounded like he was trying to throw someone under the bus for his lack of preformance, but he never really came out and said who.  I got the feeling that he was trying to say that Kahne gets the better engine’s. Do ya’ll have any insight on what  Allmendinger was trying to get at?

I’m not exactly sure what you’re referring to, but it’s very possible he was referring to the engine situation at RPM. With the trouble’s they’ve had of late, plus the move to Ford, it’s not doing him, or any other member of the team, any favors in the performance department. And certainly Kahne is going to get the best engines, he’s the only member of the team with a shot at the Championship. – Journo

10. From Ric:

I’ve seen drivers / crew / TV personalities put on and take off the steering wheel. It looks like they just throw it on, no trying to align anything. There must be something to slide the steering wheel into the correct spot.

The steering column has splines on it, and the wheel itself fits onto those splines and has a quick release.  Teams will help their driver line up the wheel prior to the race.  Sometimes you will see drivers pull to the inside during pace laps, and what you are seeing is them setting their wheel.  A tape mark at 12 o’clock tells a driver if the wheel is straight. – T.C.

11. From Neon:

Just as the drivers in Cup have their personal motorcoach delivered to each race, which of the crew chiefs have their motorcoach on the premises? Owners or other crew members?

Most owners have motorcoachs, some crew chiefs do and some team executives do to. Ultimately the guys most likely to have them are the ones who make the most money. You have to figure you’re probably spending $500,000+ on a coach, $30,000+ a year on a coach driver, and then thousands of dollars more on fuel, and upkeep. With the small number of spaces available it’s a pretty restrictive thing for those who are not drivers. – Journo

12. From Larry:

What does the announcement, by Con-way Freight, that they are moving to the Nationwide Series, with Colin Braun, do to the rumored sponsorship of Johnny Benson, in the Truck Series?

This means that Johnny won’t be sponsored by Conway. Beyond that I unfortunately can’t really offer any more insight into the situation. Does this mean Johnny won’t be back to the truck series next year? Absolutely not. Beyond the initial rumors of him going to Kyle Busch’s team next year though I really haven’t heard anything else. – 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!

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!

Ask The Insiders Wednesday #47

Oct 28th, 2009 by T.C.

Apparently everyone is in a question asking mood, because we have (I believe) the largest ATIW post ever.  So we’ll just get right to it.  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 Patrick:

This popped up the other day when I was watching Happy Hour, the #38 team was having trouble with the placement of pedals, specifically the steering column rubbing against the brake. It got me to wondering, how closely – if at all – does NASCAR monitor seat placement? By moving the seat a few inches around it seems teams could change the cars balance. Is there a mandated location for the seat?

NASCAR mandates how the seats are built and also how they are mounted, but there really isn’t a whole lot in the rulebook about where the seat is mounted.  It would be tough for NASCAR to do, because every driver is a different size and they all have certain preferences for seat placement due to comfort. – T.C.

2. From Steve:

As to the difference between the 48 and the 24, during an episode of NASCAR Now, one of the panelists said a difference between Jimmy Johnson and Jeff Gordon is that Gordon steers (or maybe it was drives) with the steering wheel while Johnson prefers to use the gas pedal.  First, please explain the difference.  Second, why and when would there be an advantage to one style over the other?  Is there something about the COT that makes it more amenable to Johnson’s style?

Often times guys that came up on asphalt will do more with the wheel, and guys that came up on dirt will do more with the throttle.  On dirt, car control is based off throttle modulation because for so much of the track the car is in a slide.  Drivers can’t do a whole lot with the wheel in a slide.  These types of drivers who control the car with throttle are successful with the COT because the only way to be fast is to set the car up loose.  This certainly isn’t a rule, but it is very common. – T.C.

3. From Tom:

Hey guys, I’m a relatively new NASCAR fan watching from the UK. I was wondering if you could answer a quick question. I watch a lot of F1 and while the casual observer might think that the cars all look the same, they are actually all different and with different engines etc. How does this work in NASCAR…obviously there are different manufacturers, but it also seems like different teams using the same manufacturer have different cars. Is this correct? And what does the Car of Tomorrow actually mean?

First, there are some small differences between the cars, but not many.  The chassis for the COTs are all generally the same.  The bodies have some minor differences, and the engines differ between manufacturers.  Nobody uses different models within the same manufacturer.  The Dodge is a Charger, the Chevrolet an Impala, the Ford a Fusion, and the Toyota a Camry.  A few years back, Cup cars resembled what is currently used in the Nationwide Series.  After a few driver deaths, in order to improve safety, NASCAR redesigned the Cup cars and this new version is referred to as the COT (or Car of Tomorrow). – T.C.

4. From Thomas:

I just read an interview with Jimmie Spencer & Kyle Petty & they both blame the COT and it being so sensitive that a 1/8″ change will mess it up.  However, every week we hear Knaus talk about “we kept making changes till we got it better.”  How can #48 make all these changes & the others cannot?  I think it is because JJ wants a very loose car which gives them more leeway for changes. HHmmmmm!!!

They’re certainly a lot more sensitive, but there are a lot of different changes that can be made in different areas. Certainly Chad Knaus isn’t the only one playing with the car; everyone is doing it. He’s just having a little more success with it than other teams, so he and the #48 are the ones that get talked about.- Journo

5. From Barry:

Any news on where Bobby Labonte might end up next yr?
And, any news on the state of Motorsports Authentics? Will they stave off bankruptcy?

Bobby’s been rumored to TRG and EGR. TRG has actually expressed interest in him, and I do know he was talked about for the #1 car. I don’t think the #1 car is as likely as TRG though. As far Motorsports Authentics goes, I haven’t heard anything more since their SEC filing a couple of weeks ago. They’re in trouble whatever the case. With NASCAR looking to combine licensing efforts, it’ll be interesting to see what happens there. – Journo

6. From Savannah:

Hey guys!  How closely does NASCAR monitor the driving history & violations of drivers off the track?  Can a driver face disciplinary action by NASCAR if they have too many speeding tickets?  In the recent Michael Waltrip accident, the police reported alcohol was a contributing factor in the wreck, although Waltrip was barely under  the legal limit.  Would NASCAR force him into rehab since this does cause some embarrassment for the sport (and it is not his first accident- the telephone pole incident of 2007)?  Driving drunk or buzzed is something that is totally avoidable and just plain stupid, especially when you are a high profile person.   Kurt Busch was sidelined by Roush for just being issued a ticket.  I can’t wait to hear what excuse Waltrip’s camp will issue after this latest incident.  I hope that all drivers will take notice and be sure to have a sober driver behind the wheel after they have been partying/drinking/ carousing.

I can’t think off the top of my head of a situation where this has happened, but I would guess NASCAR would be inclined to dole out a penalty if a driver were legally drunk and driving. Remember Waltrip was within the law. In the situation of Kurt Busch the incident occurred at the end of the season, one in which Kurt was jumping ship and he was not well liked around Roush. It wasn’t a difficult decision for them to suspend him for the remainder of the season. Obviously I contradict myself because NASCAR didn’t do anything with Kurt Busch, but I would guess they could slap a driver with “actions detrimental” if they wanted. I agree with you though, this situation should be an eye-opener. – Journo

7. From Tom:

Why do the NNS cars look so jacked up on one side when looking at them from the rear?

It’s the way the bodies are hung on them.  In order to take full advantage of the aerodynamics of the cars and the spoilers, the teams twist the bodies.  That way, when the cars are in the corner, they are getting maximum downforce, and hopefully maximum grip.  I’m not an aerodynamics expert, but the idea is to get the spoiler as far out into the air as possible when the car is in yaw. – T.C.

8. From Woogeroo:

Howdy folks.  At each race weekend, is the same pace car used?  Does each series have it’s own or is it a track by track deal the track operators have with whatever manufacturer?

It depends on the contract the track has. For instance Martinsville is a Toyota track while I believe Homestead is a Ford track. – Journo

9. From Marc:

With Silly Season in full swing, I am trying to get a handle on who controls the points in some of the top-35-points-related team “mergers” from this past year.  I assume, for example, that Penske will keep control the points of the 77 team, having “acquired” the 2008 points from Bill Davis and his old 22 team.  And, Childress will keep the points from the 33 (which got the 2008 points of the old 01 team).  But, what about the 34 team?  Will Front Row Motorsports keep the points for the team or do they go back to DEI/EGR?  Will Yates keep the points from the 96 team or will they go wherever HOF racing partners next year? Does JTG Daugherty keep the 47’s points they got from the old 00 points through a “technical alliance” with MWR?  I have not seen press about contractual situations surrounding these deals and was hoping you guys knew something more.  Thanks for all of the great work here.

The points will remain with the organizations that purchased them. They’ll just roll over to next season. Remember they more or less bought a position in the top-35, but the points they have amassed over the season are theirs. In the case of HOF, I don’t believe Yates ever actually owned the points, so those will likely remain with HOF; that was just a technical alliance. – Journo

10. From Allen:

I’ve been to many races and always notice on the flag stand they hang a black, white, and orange box on the side of the flag stand before each race, any idea what that is for?

What I believe you are referring to is the display NASCAR hangs from the flag stand to be used when a car is black flagged.  When this happens, NASCAR will wave the black flag at the car as it passes, announce it over their radio frequency, and post the car’s number on this display.  You will sometimes hear this referred to as a team was “posted.” – T.C.

11. From Kim:

I heard something odd during the telecast from Martinsville. It looked like Johnson was speeding on pit road, as he came out of his box; I distinctly heard an announcer (DJ?) mention something about an “average” on pit road, that there are eight timing sections and that you can actually go OVER pit road speed as long as when you hit one of the speed lines, you are going the correct speed (I hope I’m describing it correctly). My friend heard it, too and we were aghast as we had never heard that pit road speeding penalties were based on an “average”. The same term was used again later in the race. Is this true or did I hallucinate/misunderstand he comment?

As I understand it (and I may be wrong) NASCAR uses the scoring loops on pit road to measure how long it takes a car to travel through that specific segment.  It has nothing to do with a measured speed.  With some simple math, NASCAR can figure out how long it will take a car to travel through the segment within the legal speed limits.  What teams have started figuring out, is that they can pick certain pit boxes on pit road, depending on the placement of the loops, and actually speed.  It allows the drivers to be able to speed into their pit boxes, and out of them; before they cross the next scoring loop.  They can do this, because that measured time between loops will be much greater because of the time it takes to complete the pit stop.  Hopefully that makes sense. – T.C.

12. From Robyn:

If the 4 car limit only for the Cup Series?  If not, why does Roush keep saying that they will run 5 Nationwide cars in 2010?  What does NASCAR (or those in the garage) think about teams (especially in NW), for all intents, selling thier owner points for a race?

There is no car limit in the Nationwide Series. So Roush (or any other organizations) could have as many teams as they want. As far as I know NASCAR doesn’t have any problems with the teams selling their points. In some situations, it means they’ll have fewer start and parks, so I would imagine they’re fine with it. – Journo

13. From Dan:

Wow! Are we seeing the birth of a new “Intimidator”? Sounds as if JPM has some people worried. Gordon’s comments after the race got my attention and Chad Knaus cautioned his driver of Montoya’s antics during the race. Maybe this just what NASCAR needs to fill all those empty seats on race day. Your thoughts.

I think JPM certainly has that killer spirit. Part of the mystique of Dale Earnhardt and part of his role as the intimidator though was his success, which Montoya hasn’t had. Drivers knew they were going to have a fight on their hands with him in the rear view mirror, I don’t think Montoya is there yet. Certainly he has a ton of potential and the other drivers are starting to take notice, but I think he has a ways to go before we can say we have a new intimidator. – Journo

14. From Amy:

Approximately how many helmets does a driver go through in a given season? What about the crew?

Unless a helmet is damaged in an incident, they don’t usually need to be replaced.  Drivers will usually have multiple helmets because of different sponsor commitments and paint schemes.  The same goes for pit crew guys.  I’ve been using the same helmet(s) all season. – T.C.

15. From Ric:

How much notice does the crew need for various changes; Air Pressure, Wedge, Track Bar, Spring Rubber, etc.

Not much, unfortunately.  Air pressure changes probably need the most warning, because the tire guy needs to run around and change the pressures before the tires can be taken over the wall.  Wedge and track bar adjustments can be called pretty late before the car enters the stall, as long as the crew guys have enough time to grab wrenches.  Spring rubbers can be called late, but usually there is plenty of warning because they take more time to get out.  A spring rubber, because of the weight of the adjustment usually isn’t called last minute. – T.C.

16. From Ric:

When drivers help anther driver (debris on a radiator, lead a lap, push from behind, drafting, etc) is this $$$, kindness of their heart, instructions from the boss (same team), other?

Most of the time you’ll only see teammates letting each other lead laps or helping with debris. I guess in rare circumstances a driver who is friendly with another driver might be willing to help him out when it comes to debris (an if you scratch my back, i’ll scratch your’s situation). As far as drafting goes, that is something that just happens out on track. A driver might be more reluctant to draft with certain guys, but it’s not like letting a guy lead or helping him with debris. – Journo

17. From Jeff in SoCal:

What can we expect to see from the new Ford engine being ran by Roush Fenway at Talladega next week? Do you guys think it is going to be a major improvement?

I’m sure the new Ford engine probably makes better numbers, but don’t expect to see a huge improvement over the previous version.  Doug Yates and his guys do a good job, but they aren’t going to magically find huge numbers.  The rules haven’t changed for engines. – T.C.

18. From Carole:

Jr had 3 flat tires and brake problems this weekend.  My husband says he probably unconsciously rides the brake with his left foot.  What do you think was his problem?

From what I know about the situation, Jr. told Lance McGrew several times that he was not riding the brakes.  He usually runs very good at Martinsville, and you don’t do that unless you know how to take care of your brakes.  Plus, I don’t believe Jr. is a left foot braker, which can often lead to a driver riding the brakes because they rest their foot on the pedal. – T.C.

19. From Amy:

Wow…I am totally shocked about Steve Addington being relieved of his crew chief position for Kyle Busch.  Yeah Kyle hasn’t had the best of seasons this year…but seems to me all drivers have the occasional crappy season.  Why replace Addington? Any thoughts?

I can’t say I’m surprised they made this decision, but I also can’t say it’s something I would have done. It’s hard to reconcile removing the guy who led your driver to 12 wins over two seasons. That said I think the issue here comes down to consistency, something Kyle has struggled with, even while having a lot of success. Obviously the folks at Gibbs think Dave Rogers will do a better job of achieving that consistency than Addington. Time will tell. – Journo

20. From bb:

Hi Guys.  Firstly, your website is a great combination of information, news and editorial content that has a lot more meaningful depth than most others, so please don’t change it too much…….Second, I was wondering what the feeling in the garage is about the future/stability of MWR. Will they be likely to get sponsorship to be able to run the 00 full time? It seems like they are pretty close to breaking through to being able to field contending cars on a consistent basis. Also, does a full time nationwide ride for Mikey look likely?

Well thank you. I think Waltrip is in just as good a shape as any other organization. Certainly sponsorship is difficult to come by, but RCR, EGR, Hendrick all have (or have had) sponsorship issues going into next season. As far as Reutimann goes, I don’t think you have to worry about him running a part time schedule next season. I’m sure they’ll fill the gaps, which I believe is somewhere around 12 races. I haven’t heard anything more about Michael in the Nationwide Series next season. Like anything I’m sure that’ll be determined on whether or not they can secure funding for a team. – Journo

21. From Robyn:

Looking at the other competition caution – the one called for before the race begins.  This past week when it rained in Martinsville, I don’t recall a competition caution being called for the truck race.  That series raced on a green track.  I don’t recall hearing about rain on Saturday night, so there was rubber on the track.  Why was there a planned competition caution in the Cup race (Waltrip negated it with his lap 40-something spin)?  These teams are supposed to be the best of the best.  They should know how their tires will wear without making a race run, which some teams did on Friday anyway.

The only thing I can think of here, is that NASCAR was concerned because the Cup cars hadn’t been on track since Friday.  Other than that, I’m not really sure what to tell you.  In any case though, it’s usually better to be safe then sorry. – T.C.

22. From Harold:

Are the tires used in NASCAR races provides free or do they have to pay for them?

Teams technically lease tires for competition, and they are not free.  They cost about $1,500 a set. – 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!

Ask The Insiders Wednesday #48

Nov 4th, 2009 by T.C.

And then there were three.  Texas, Phoenix, and Homestead are the last remaining races on the 2009 schedule before we put it in the record books.  But before we start the home stretch, we’ve got more of your questions and our somewhat educated answers.  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…

Just a quick follow up from a few weeks back, we were asked what Michael “Fatback” McSwain was up to these days.  We have confirmed that he is running an auto repair shop in Dallas, NC. – T.C.

1. From Kenny:

Do you think some drivers might intentionally spin out just to get screen time for their advertisers? I’m thinking about Robby Gordon here, because he seems to bring out a yellow at least once during every race.

While I don’t think this is going on (if it is Robby is doing a very bad job of it because Jim Beam is leaving at the end of the season), anything is possible. One thing to remember though, is if you’re a company sponsoring a lesser team you go into it knowing that you’re not going to get a lot of TV time. These sponsorships are much larger marketing efforts (that can be said for any team). If they just wanted TV time it would be a lot cheaper to buy TV advertisements. – Journo

2. From Ross:

T.C.: It’s probable that someone on the blog has ripped your driver.  Does that make you cringe a bit when you read it?

Nope, everyone is entitled to their opinions.  I know how things really are with my driver, so outside talk doesn’t bother me.  Besides, maybe we’ve ripped my driver on here too… – T.C.

3. From Bobby#7Fan:

What is the deal with NASCAR giving AJ a breath test before practice Friday?  It seems to me it’s just a way to embarrass him.  Did they really think he was throwing back shots before getting into the car?  I saw Tony Stewart scratch his ass before practice once, did they check him for hemorrhoids?

I’ll be honest with you, I was in favor of NASCAR suspending him, but I thought the breathalyzer was over the top. I really don’t know what the purpose of it was. It was a little press for them, but it really only served to add to AJ’s embarrassment. – Journo

4. From AJ:

I don’t know how to ask this in a question but has a superstar from the Nationwide series ever gone on to win the Cup? Two sets of drivers come to mind for me, Matt Kenseth and Jr, and Truex Jr and Clint Bowyer. Both Jr’s were 2 time nationwide champs, but it was the runner ups Matt and Clint that have gone on to preform better on the Cup level. Same for JJ and Stewart, they never really got their barring in the lower level and it wasn’t until they came to Cup that they excelled in stock cars.

Are you asking if any former “Nationwide” champions (before they went to Cup) have gone on to great success in the Cup Series? Ned Jarrett was a Sportsman Division champion and Bobby Labonte, Kevin Harvick and Greg Biffle were all Busch Series champions. It’s an interesting point and one I’ve never really thought about. As of now I guess it really isn’t a great indicator of success in the Cup Series. – Journo

5. From Mike:

Since this week was an impound race many cars and most go or go home cars were probably still on some kind of qualifying setup. Since you know it was probably going to be cancelled can you adjust them back to race trim or is there a stop work time? On a normal week can’t you work on it until right before it goes on the track?

Qualifying trim for an impound race is really only a taped up grill, pumped up air pressures, and some other small adjustments.  Once qualifying is cancelled, NASCAR allows the teams to make final adjustments, which includes taking the car out of qualifying “trim.”  On a normal, non-impound weekend, teams can work on the cars right up until they need to be in line for pre-race inspection on race morning. – T.C.

6. From Lost In Texas:

The firing of the #18 crew chief is bothering me.  Can either of you lend some insight into how something like that happens.  How much did Kyle have to say about it?  Sure would to be a fly on the all at JGR.

I would say the situation differs from team to team. Some drivers have more say about these situations than others. Look at Juan Pablo Montoya. He had three different crew chiefs last season, and I can tell you he wasn’t happy about any of the changes. I honestly can’t tell you internally what the conversation was at JGR, but I’d guess there were pretty lengthy discussions between Jimmy Makar and the Gibbs’. I’m a little skeptical of this move too, but they must think this situation will be better. – Journo

7. From Ric:

I have noticed that some over the wall people wear 1 piece suits, others wear two piece suits. Who decides what you wear? What is the pro / con of both of them? Is there another type?

Some teams decide which kind they want their guys to wear, but in many cases it’s just a preference thing.  Often times when Simpson, Impact, or whoever is making the firesuits does their fittings with the crew guys, they will ask what your preference is.  I’m not really sure of pros vs. cons, it’s really just what a guy thinks is most comfortable.  There is also a three piece, which is pants, a top, and then a vest that goes over the top. – T.C.

8. From Ric:

I noticed on the back bumper about middle to right of the car either a cover (guessing about 3?X3?), or something sticking out slightly from the car. What is this?

This is where they put the rear facing on board cameras.  If the car is carrying it, the camera is mounted there, and if it isn’t carrying one the hole is just covered. – 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!

Ask The Insiders Wednesday #49

Nov 11th, 2009 by T.C.

All three series have one more trip out West for the year.  While the haulers make the long trek to Phoenix, we’ve got another question and answer post for you.  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 Savannah:

Hey Guys, does the COT become airborne in accidents more than the old style car?  In several wrecks, the cars seem to be flipping more than the older car.  Does the wing on the back of the car cause it to loose the downforce and then the flipping starts?  I am just curious.  I apologize if you have already responded to this type of question in the past.

I’ll be honest with you, I can’t really give you a great explanation of this. Diandra over at Stock Car Science though does have a good explanation of why this is occurring with seemingly more frequency. By the way Stock Car Science is a great blog; the woman who writes it, wrote The Physics of NASCAR. – Journo

2. From Doug in CA:

I was reading about tire testing at Daytona.  How much tire testing goes on?  Do Cup drivers participate in most?  Very little?  It seems to me that there are plenty of drivers out there who don’t have rides (Blaney, Riggs, Raines etc.) who would appreciate picking up a few bucks for running laps for Goodyear.  Why do busy guys like Johnson or Busch do this job?

It happens a few times a year.  Goodyear will pick certain tracks they need to work on, and go from there.  Tire testing happens for the Cup cars the most, but it does happen for the other series too.  The thing to remember about driver participation, is that Goodyear doesn’t supply the cars.  Teams show up with all of their own equipment,  So out of work guys wouldn’t really do Goodyear any good.  Guys like Jimmie and Kyle will do it because it allows them to learn, and to help their teams learn.  Especially now with the testing ban, any extra track time is a huge positive for a team and driver. – T.C.

3. From Blair:

Sitting here watching the race and though I’m a little tickled at the fact that Jimmie Johnson is stuck in the garage it has made me wonder. As far as the car goes, what all can be changed during the race as far as engine pieces and all that? Obviously you can’t change the original chassis but what all can you change? Or maybe the easier list would be what can’t you change? Thanks guys! Love reading your blogs!

Outside of replacing the car (chassis) and engine, everything is pretty much fair game.  Rear ends, suspension, body, really anything else is okay to work on. – T.C.

4. From Scott:

Hey Guys, following Jimmy Johnson’s big wreck on Sunday his crew really pulled together and did great work to get his car back out there.  Clearly this shows part of the reason that he is in position to win another championship and highlights the team aspect of NASCAR, which I don’t think gets enough coverage.  However, with all the parts being changed I was wondering about a couple of things.  I heard during the race that you can change just about everything except the motor and NASCAR lets you back on the track for your attempt to get back up to speed.  What I’m wondering is this, what allowances does NASCAR provide for how the car measures up in post race testing?  While its doubtful that after that type of crash a car would havea competitive downforce advantage is this something NASCAR checks?  As always, great website, great columns and commentaries, love Ask Wednesdays, keep up the great work!

Post race inspection usually only happens to the top five (I think) and a random.  So unless NASCAR decided to be ridiculous, a team in a situation like Jimmie’s won’t have to go through tech after the race.  There is no point in checking a team for cheating when they were a few seconds off the pace, 120 laps down. – T.C.

5. From windowlicker:

Hey guys. During the Busch race at Texas, a car (I think it was Justin Allgaier) came out after a wreck with no front end. NASCAR black flagged him for not maintaining minimum speed. He went back in they did something & he came back out & finished the race. I thought once you got black flagged for not maintaining speed, NASCAR parked you. You didn’t get a second chance.

I think that was his one chance.  The car comes out of the garage, NASCAR sees it doesn’t make minimum speed, then you are allowed one chance to make it right.  That is how I always understood it.  When a car is wrecked and comes out of the garage, the team doesn’t really know what it has to work with.  If the rule is as I understand it, NASCAR gives the driver and team one chance to feel it out and make the car better. – T.C.

6. From J and D:

After seeing some of the recent wrecks in NASCAR races, we got to wondering: when a car is torn up badly but still able to finish a race, how on Earth do they pass post-race inspection? We’ve seen some cars with no front ends, jacked-up rears and much more. What’s left to measure?

Like I said above, unless a wrecked car finishes top five, they won’t be inspected after the race.  Once a car is wrecked and goes many laps down, there really is no point in inspecting them. – T.C.

7. From Red Kneck:

Why does Marcos Ambrose’s 47 car have yellow rookie stripes but is not listed in the Rookie of the Year Standings?

It’s because he ran too many races last season to run for the Rookie of the Year Award (11 in 2008), but he is still considered a rookie (hence the rookie stripe). – Journo

8. From Michael:

I know racing in general money is money no matter the funding entity. However, do guys like Conway, Nemechek (Extenze) & Martin (when he was sponsored by Viagra) face much ribbing in the garage area?

Yes, absolutely. I would say the crew guys are the ones that face the majority of the ribbing though. Can you imagine walking around the garage with Extenze or Viagra on your chest? I’m just glad it’s not me. – Journo

9. From Christopher:

During the Texas Sprint Cup race, we all saw the shots from the hour or so the 48 team was re-building Johnson’s car.  It seemed that Jimmy stayed in the car the entire time.  Is this normal?  Is there any reason- knowing it was going to take awhile- that Jimmy wouldn’t have gotten out?  Maybe to help- or at least take a stretch?

In this situation I think Jimmie was trying to make a point that he was committed to going back out. Likewise he was still very much in that zone, so I think he wanted to avoid distractions like the media. Generally, I would say whether or not a driver stays in the car depends on the driver and the situation. -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!

Ask The Insiders Wednesday #50

Nov 18th, 2009 by T.C.

The last race of the season is upon us.  Come Sunday night, the 2009 season will be over.  But what won’t end, is Ask The Insiders Wednesday.  We’ve got our 50th batch of questions and answers for you.  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 Nick:

The last time I was @ Hendrik Motorsports, Jeff Gordon’s “T-Rex” car wasn’t there. Do you know where they moved it?

I have absolutely no idea. Was it in the museum? I’m sure they try to rotate the cars in the museum to keep things fresh. Too, the museum was redone earlier this year, so they might have changed some things out. – Journo

2. From Big Mike:

I don’t understand how an experienced  winner in all three series of ARCA, Trucks, and Nationwide, Rookie of the Year, 3 Cup Poles, can be overlooked for any job in any series. I’m speaking of Scott Riggs. Scott’s a great driver who doesn’t go around with a swelled head. He’s a clean driver 99% of the time and would do a great job for any team.  Do you think the fact that he was man enough to stand up and admit on the air that Tommy Baldwin asked him to start and park has hurt his chances to secure another ride?  Let’s face it the last 5-6 cars every week who squeeze in and have no chance of winning are there to rip off the gate.  So what is your take on Scott’s future?

I haven’t heard a thing about Scott Riggs and as far as I know he isn’t really very visible around the garage. The problem is there are a glut of drivers and not enough rides. Unless you’re bringing with you money or proven talent (and money) it’s going to be hard to find a ride. I don’t think there were any hard feelings over the TBR deal. Tommy just realized he couldn’t afford to keep running the full races and starting and parking wasn’t something Scott wanted to do. As far as Scott goes though I haven’t heard anything about him for 2010. He may be working on something, he may not. – Journo

3. From Savannah:

Here is a what if question.  Since Dale Jr has struggled this year, do you think that Rick Hendrick considered moving a successful crew chief, ala Chad Knaus, to the 88 team for next year?   Even with the recent crew chief change, Dale Earnhardt has not improved as quickly as some fans hoped.  Just curious if you think that this option was considered.

If it was considered I would think it was for only a fleeting moment. Rick Hendrick is not the type to kill a successful pairing like Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson. Was it thought about? I’m sure every scenario was considered, but I doubt this was a likely solution. – Journo

4. From Dave:

When NASCAR takes a team’s car to Concord for further inspection, how does it get there? Does NASCAR take it on one of their haulers or does the team?  Once there how does the team get it back if NASCAR releases it?  Y’all have done a great job all year and I hope this continues after the season ends.

NASCAR has transporters they use to take the cars from the track to Concord. After they’ve finished inspecting the car you get to come get it yourself (doesn’t seem fair right?). And thank you! – Journo

5. From Ric:

On the #48 team, what is the garage feelings about them. Do they mirror the fans? Is their dominance hurting NASCAR?

I’m not sure I can speak for everyone in the garage, but I don’t personally feel the way some of the fans do about Jimmie.  Yeah, I wish the competition was closer, but I respect what amazing things they have been able to accomplish.  I certainly don’t dislike Jimmie or the #48 guys because of their run.  I wish that on some level, people could step back from their allegiances and see just how great this team has been. – T.C.

6. From Ric:

About how long does it take the winning driver / team to make it thru all the pictures and interviews after a race? What is the longest you have heard of?

The drivers take a lot longer then the rest of the team.  After the main celebration and hat dance is over, the crew can take off to start loading the hauler and tearing down pit road.  The driver has to stay longer for more pictures.  Usually the bigger the race, the longer it takes.  The Daytona 500 victory lane activities can go on for a while.  I’m not sure I could tell you an exact time though, as I don’t normally hang around for the driver part. – T.C.

7. From Ric:

Who supplies (pays for) the champagne in the winners circle? What is on the bottles, looks like the Sprint Cup Logo? About how many bottles do they go thru after a race?

I’m not 100% sure who pays for it, but I would assume it’s supplied by the marketing company that handles Sprint’s NASCAR efforts (which I believe is Octagon). As far as how many bottles they go through, upwards of half a dozen maybe. – Journo

8. From Roger from Colorado:

Last week I was on a hunting trip traveling on I-20 towards Dallas from Colorado. It was Monday and I noticed quite a number of Cup and Nationwide haulers going west towards Phoenix for the weekend race there. I saw the 48 hauler and wondered what they had inside after the big wreck. I got to thinking about what all of them had on the trip to Phoenix. I assume that a different car is used at Phoenix (a smaller flat track vs the big, banked Texas track). Does another hauler meet them at Dallas and switch equipment and cars for the different style track? There were a bunch of busted up cars after the Texas race that were junk. Sure too far to return to NC and then come back out to Phoenix with more equipment.

Actually most teams have somebody meet them in Texas with the equipment they need for Phoenix.  They’ll trade out everything that needs to be traded out and then head their separate ways. At Texas these guys were actually waiting in a lot outside the track ready to make the switch. – Journo

9. From Scott:

Hey Guys, after Johnson’s win this past weekend its going to be tough for Mark Martin to win the championship, but as we know anything can happen.  I think we all know the fans are divided between frustration, hatred and awe of what the number 48 has done (again) this year.  My question is how do your peers feel about in the garage?  Do they feel the same as the fans?  What about the drivers? And just to add some fuel to the black helicopters out there, is there any driver out there that could hold Johnson up or make his day difficult enough to give Mark Martin a run at this thing?  Ok, I’m caught!  I’m a big Martin fan and it saddens me to see him be a bridesmaid again.  Not to take away what he’s accomplished this but jeez!  Thanks again guys.

Like I said above, I can’t speak for everyone, but I do wish the competition was closer.  You never want to see one driver or team dominate a sport.  But there really isn’t the hate and discontent in the garage area for Jimmie that you will find among some fans.  Unless it’s a freak deal, I think you will see most drivers steer clear of Jimmie during the race.  Nobody wants to be that guy. – T.C.

10. From Ric:

Let’s say you have a car that just won a race, it stayed out of all the wrecks, the driver wants to race it later in the year. What needs to be done to the car to get it ready for that next race? What is (or not) changed / replaced / redone?

After a race, cars are completely torn down.  Everything from the engine to the suspension is taken out and off.  The cars are checked over and then placed back into rotation to be set up again for the next race in which it will be used. – T.C.

11. From Tommy:

I know NASCAR takes the top two cars and others for post race inspections.  What do they look for in the engine?  Is it just they meet certain specs like cylinder size?  Do they put it on a dyno and determine how much horsepower it has?   Rick Hendrick admitted his engines may vary from 5 – 15 horsepower.  I wonder if Jimmie has more horsepower than the other 42 drivers?

I don’t believe that NASCAR puts engines on the dyno in the course of their normal post race inspections.  What they usually check the engines for is that they meet all the specs in the rule book; compression, displacement, etc.  And while Hendrick’s engines are certainly a part of their success, a few horsepower over other competitors isn’t why Jimmie has won three straight championships. – T.C.

12. From Tom Gulf Coast

If NASCAR chooses to go with a larger tire, what else would have to be changed with the car?  Do you know if its a larger wheel or just a taller tire?  I think the 15 inch wheel is about the only thing that has always been the same over the past 50+ years.

From what I understand, the tire is wider and would require a change to 17 inch wheels.  A larger wheel and wider tire would require teams to make some big changes to the current cars.  Bodies would need to be different, as the wheel openings would need to be larger.  Also, I would imagine that both front and rear suspension geometry would change because of the larger combo.  Also, fender wells and crush panels would need to be different.  – 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!