With the first off weekend of the season in the rear view, we head to Thunder Valley this week. The Cup cars are getting some spoiler testing in before they leave for Bristol, and while they do we have more questions and answers for you. If you don’t know what this post is, we answer any and all reader questions every Wednesday, right here. So if you’ve got one, click on the ”Ask the Insiders” tab at the top of the page and send one to us. On to the questions…
1. From Ric:
TC, when you are (un)tightening lugs, what is it you look for, feel for, listen for, etc. before you move on to the next?
It’s really all about feel. When you go to your local tire shop, you can hear what an impact sounds like when the lugnuts are really tight. That noise is the gun ratcheting over. For the good changers, you will never hear the gun ratchet over like that. We just want to stay on the nuts long enough that they are just tight. Don’t stay on long enough, and they will be loose, stay on too long, and you won’t be able to get them off on the next stop. After you’ve been doing pitstops for several years, your brain and your hands just know when to move to the next. – T.C.
2. From Lee:
I know that the drivers get to fly in private jets to and from races. What about the crew? Do they fly commercial or ride in the hauler? Do they usually travel together, or are they on their own to make it to the racetrack?
It depends on the team. Some teams have their guys fly commercial, others have private jets they fly their teams on. TC has actually written a couple of posts on the subject here and here (this one includes links to pictures of team planes). Teams like Roush, Hendrick, RCR, etc all have planes (Roush actually has 2 Boeing 727s); teams like Front Row fly commercial. For smaller teams, when the track is within driving distance, they’ll often make their guys drive – this is especially the case in lower series. They don’t ride in the truck though, they take vans. – Journo
3. From djones:
My question is regarding templates. In LV Robby Gordon’s car didn’t fit the template. If he has same at shop, why didn’t it? Same thing happened to JJ Cobb in ATL. Template didn’t fit. BTW, I don’t know which ones they were. Can templates get warped somehow? Does hot/cold affect them? Are any tolerances allowed? Thanks TC & Journo.
Templates are made of aluminum, and while I don’t know the chemical properties of aluminum, I don’t believe they really distort. Whenever cars are run through templates though, they are always in the shade. There are certain areas that NASCAR will let teams slide on if the template doesn’t quite fit. They may pass you, but tell you to fix it for next week. On top of that, NASCAR does allow for some tolerances on templates. If you ever make it to a track like Daytona, where the inspection areas are visible, you will see the officials use a small gauge that measures the tolerance between the template and the body. – T.C.
4. From Rick:
I’m a huge fan of Bill Elliott. Is he very respected in the garage and If given a good car, do you think he could win again?
My answer is yes and probably not. It’s hard not to have a lot of respect for Bill Elliott. He’s a good guy and great race car driver. While he is still pretty good with Wood Brothers (which doesn’t have bad equipment), I have a hard time seeing him make a Mark Martin like return to full-time competition. Remember Mark, even during his part-time seasons, remained very competitive. Bill has been OK, but just hasn’t had that spark since he retired from full-time competition. – Journo
5. From yankeegranny:
I am surprised that crew chiefs don’t do more to see that their drivers lead a lap during the pit stop sequences. A case in point, if JR had lead laps in the second and third races, he would be in the top 12 instead of sitting in 13th, In the first 26 races leading a lap in every race(not likely, but possible,) a driver could accumulate an additional 130 points, Now that is not chump change in anyone’s book. I want to throw something at the tv, everytime JR gets up to 3rd or 4th during pit stops and Lance tells him pit this lap, instead of telling him to lead a lap and then pit.
All of this sounds good, but it doesn’t always work out that a team can lead a lap during pit stops. It really depends on how far the car can go on fuel, and how much time a car is giving up on old tires to a car on new tires. Lance McGrew isn’t going to leave Dale Jr. on track to lead a lap if there is a chance he may run out of fuel. Five bonus points in that situation isn’t worth screwing up the whole race. The reasoning is the same for tires. If Dale Jr. is out front on old tires, and tires fall off a ton, somebody on new tires will be able to make up a ton of track position. When this is the case, when Jr. does finally pit, he will be further behind then he was before the sequence of pit stops. – T.C.
6. From Richard:
Why doesn’t Nascar make the wing or spoiler hinge against a stop so when the car goes backwards it just flips over and has no lift when going backwards.
I’m no engineer, but this sounds like something that wouldn’t be too reliable. I question whether or not it would work every time, or whether it would work like it should. Likewise a fixed wing and spoiler allow NASCAR to ensure equality among the teams; a revolving spoiler or wing would probably leave some room for fudging. It seems to me, having a fixed wing or spoiler is just a whole lot easier. – Journo
7. From Joe:
Can you give us an idea of exactly where the restrictor plate is located, perhaps using a quick diagram of the car? Also, how has the restrictor plate changed this year? What are the restrictor plate tracks? Can you also give us a rough estimate of the speed difference of a car with the restrictor plate and without?
The restrictor plate is located on top of the engine, in between the carburetor and the intake manifold. I found an image that illustrates the location here. NASCAR made the holes in the restrictor plate a little bigger this season, so the engines will have more horsepower. Restrictor plates are only used at Daytona and Talladega. In May of 1987, Bill Elliott sat on the pole at Talladega with an average speed around the 2.66 mile track of 212.809 mph without any restrictions. A year later at Talladega, with a restrictor plate with 1″ holes, Davey Allison sat on the pole with a speed of 198.696 mph. This season at Daytona, Mark Martin sat on the pole with a speed of 191.188 mph. So the restrictor plate does definitely slow the cars down quite a bit. – 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!