With the Cup cars being off last Sunday, we’ve got a very light edition of ATIW this week. As always, thanks to those that do send in questions. 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:
I’ m curious how a driver (such as Edwards or Kyle Busch) can fall off, especially at tracks where they won last year and thus presumably had the track dialed in (like Busch at Chicago, wins in 08, not even close in 09). Is it more likely they fiddled with something and lost speed relative to last year, other teams have figured something out and gained speed or something else entirely?
It could really be a lot of factors, but most likely its a combination of many. Tracks change every year because of age, and weather affects them significantly. So just because a setup worked one time at a track doesn’t mean it will work there again. Also, they might not have brought the same car. Maybe that car that won was destroyed, or they have made chassis improvements and it’s affected how the car is setup. Like you mentioned, teams are constantly working to improve so maybe that small advantage a driver had has now been erased as well. It’s tough to really point to one thing and say “that’s the reason they lost this year.” – T.C.
2. From Dave M.:
I’ve followed Jeff Gordon’s career enthusiastically. The last few seasons have fallen short of his usual stellar performances, though. Granted, he is in 2nd place, in the standings, and his record is one that many drivers only dream of, but he seems to have lost his “drive” or “fire” or whatever you choose to call it. In the past, a 4th or 5th place finish would have been unacceptable. Now, he seems content with it. Are we watching the beginning of the end? Is retirement – from driving – in Jeff’s near future?
I think what you see is an older, wiser and more mature Jeff Gordon. In his younger days he was certainly more apt to complain after a race and he was more of an off-track spitfire. That being said I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to say he has lost his drive or fire. I think it’s still there, or we would see a driver who is not competing like he is week in and week out. Is retirement near? Perhaps. Remember though he’s only 37. – Journo
3. From Ryan:
It really irks me when commentators state the Tony Stewart is the first owner/driver to win since Ricky Rudd and may be the first to win a championship since Alan Kulwicki. I’m sorry, but he’s nothing like them as an owner. Am I right in saying that Rudd and Kulwicki actually owned there entire teams and built them up from almost nothing? Your thoughts?
I can understand your argument and it is one that many have made. While Tony did buy a ready made operation, remember there was still a great deal of work to do to turn the performance of the team around. Even with a ready made team things aren’t always so easy. While certainly what Alan Kulwicki and Ricky Rudd did was more ambitious, I don’t think you can take away the fact that Tony is very involved with his operation. It is a different day and a different age (I don’t know if a driver today could find the success Kulwicki and Rudd did while building an operation from the ground) and I think it takes a different strategy to be successful. Feel free to still be irked though because it is a different situation. – Journo
4. From Sean:
As amazing a talent as Kyle Busch is, I’m beginning to suspect that he lacks the mental toughness required to win a championship, or even to just keep slogging away to make something out of a bad day. I’m interested in what you guys in particular, and the garage in general, think about this.
Kyle really has a great talent, but he needs to do a lot of growing up before I personally think he will win a Cup championship. He has a hard time with consistency and he doesn’t know how to have a bad day. I’m certainly not alone in my sentiments. To his credit though, he doesn’t appear to let one bad weekend affect the next. I think the talent and equipment are in place for him to win and given some more time to mature I don’t see any reason why Kyle won’t win a championship or championships. – Journo
5. From Dave:
A couple of weeks ago I watched Jimmy Johnson run out of fuel, on the last lap. As he coasted around the final turn, the other cars raced by him and finished the race. It wasn’t until sometime later that they announced that Johnson coasted into his pit stall, took on some fuel and crossed the finish line while on pit road, allowing him to finish in 7th place. This led me to wonder when, exactly, is a race officially over? One would assume that the race ends when the leader crosses the finish line, but this obviously, isn’t the case. So when does NASCAR call it “Over”?
It’s actually pretty simple really. The race ends when the last scored car on the track crosses the line. If the race ended when the leader crossed the line, there would be no reason for the rest of the field to race to the checkered. So once the leader takes the checkered, the race officially ends when the last car crosses the line. – T.C.
6. From Ric:
How often do you get a new / different air impact gun? Are old ones refurbished / repaired or junked? Do you try several until they feel right, or are they all the same and you can?t tell the difference?
There is no hard and fast rule about how long to use an impact. The internals wear out, and need to be rebuilt and replaced on a regular basis. But the actual housing itself can last several years. It really depends on how much they are used and how well a guy takes care of it. If an older gun is still in decent shape, they can be refurbished and resold. Both Brunnhoelzl and Hurd Pit Tools usually have used guns in stock, and Georgie and Joe would be happy to sell you one. And to an experienced changer who knows what they want, guns don’t all feel the same. Everybody has their own preferences for how they want a gun set up. – 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!