With a wild weekend of racing at Michigan in the rearview, we are looking ahead to another possibly wild weekend of action at Bristol. While we wait for the weekend to arrive, we’ve got another round 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 John:
I’ve been going back and forth wondering if this was valid or a <slap-your-head>DUH question – I figured I’d go ahead and ask: Scenario: There’s a wreck. A bunch of cars get caught up in it. A lot of them fire-up and drive away. The wrecker picks up others. Question: Can the tow-in’s be repaired and returned to the race? or once a car has outside assistance (or the driver visits infield-care) is the day over?
Don’t worry, there are no “DUH” questions here. The answer to your question is yes; those cars can be repaired. Usually though, if it takes a wrecker to get your car back to the garage, your day is done. – T.C.
2. From Walt:
Do the drivers visit the shop or do they just show up at the track and get all the pub.
A lot of drivers will visit the shop during the week. Like most things though it depends on the driver and the team. Juan Pablo Montoya lives in Miami, so he isn’t exactly a fixture at the Ganassi shop; not true for other drivers. A lot of teams have meetings early on in the week too with the drivers. It all just depends on the situation and the person. – Journo
3. From Michael:
“Given the animosity on both sides, I wouldn’t expect Bliss back.” What gives?
I was obviously a little surprised too. Here is what Bliss told NASCAR.com:
“They called me about running the Cup car last week,” Bliss said. “I don’t know if James is trying to help me out a little bit and he knew I made races in that car and that’ll put a little money back in my pocket, but it’s rough. It’s a paycheck, but I’m telling you, you just suck it up, you’ve got big shoulders and you say, ‘OK, I’ll go give you all I can.’
4. From August:
Hi guys. I just wanted to ask what things can teams do to a car when building the car. The rules are pretty tight on things like shock mounts and the design of the chassis on the cars (to my knowledge). And the bodies are basically set in stone. So what makes one type of car better then another in a teams stable? Like a driver would have his favorite car that they roll out every now and then for a big race. Aren’t teams trying to build all their cars in the same fashion? Is there a way to build a car to suit a drivers style in this day and age, with these rules. I’m just always puzzled about when a team like RCR for instance, just put on the track a whole fleet of newly built cars. Now we the fans can’t see the chassis design or anything really underneath the body to tell the difference between one RCR car from another. I was just wondering, what differences can there be, and can they build cars to suit a drivers preference/style. Thanks.
While the COT is governed much tighter than the old car, teams still have areas where they can make improvements. The difference now though is the tolerances are much smaller. Both the chassis and bodies have places where teams can work. In terms of one car performing better then another, sometimes it’s a difference in design, but sometimes it cannot be explained. For whatever reason, some cars just “feel” better to a driver. And if a driver has confidence in a certain car, the mental difference alone might make that car faster. – T.C.
5. From Dave:
What happens if a big-name, cup driver does something completely stupid, but the action doesn’t violate any specific rule? Let’s say, just for example, he wins a race and along with the points and fat paycheck, he is given a custom made, Gibson Les Paul guitar as part of his award. He keeps the points and banks the check but during the award ceremony, he purposely smashes the guitar to bits. I’ve created this fantasy because no driver in his right mind would destroy his winning “trophy” on national T.V., but if a lunatic (like I’ve made up) really did something this idiotic, who would have the pleasure of smacking him on the snout, with a rolled up newspaper? Does the team owner get the task? The sponser? Or does NASCAR sell the job on eBay to the highest bidder?
Well look at your example. Did anything happen there? If sponsors are unhappy about an action or comment they aren’t going to be shy about letting the team know, and in turn most team owners aren’t going to be shy about letting their driver know. I suppose if the action is at or on track and NASCAR deems it serious enough they can fine a driver for actions detrimental (rule 12-4-A), if it’s off track I’m sure for the most part things would be dealt with internally. – Journo
6. From Ric:
Since you are working about every weekend once the season starts, do you guys get days off in the middle of the week? Do you only take your vacation time during the off season?
Vacations are pretty much hard to come by during the season. They are usually saved for the off season. And each team operates differently, but guys usually get at least one day off a week. - T.C.
7. From Dave:
This is a two-fold question. With NASCAR regulating/restricting virtually every square inch of the race cars and making them as identical as possible, how do some teams gain an advantage – without “crossing the line”? And with all of those restrictions, where is the motivation to generate new ideas? There have been several safety improvements, but I’m refferring to speed improvements.
Like I said above, there are still places where teams can make improvements. The cars are not identical. And the motivation for making improvements is the same now as its always been; WIN! We are involved in racing to beat the competition. And that is all it takes. – T.C.
8. From Steve:
Is there a functional reason why some crew chiefs (Knaus) wear full fire suits during the race while others (Letarte) wear shirts?
To be honest, I don’t really think so. I guess in a pinch, one of those firesuit wearing guys could go over the wall, but most don’t even wear SFI shoes. – T.C.
9. From Christopher:
What are the bright orange (what looks like) pieces of tape on the tires? You see them when new tires are put on, and they obviously fall off as the wheels drive a few laps. Do they have any use or meaning?
For the answer to this, check out this post I wrote last May. It explains most of the tape marks you will see during a race. – 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!