Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Mike Neff · Wednesday March 7, 2012
The ARCA series is heading to Mobile, Alabama this weekend after having their season opening race at Daytona. There are quite a few challenges that face the crews of the teams as they prepare their cars to race on the half mile oval. The Frontstretch’s Mike Neff met up with Brian Keselowski to discuss the differences between ARCA and Sprint Cup cars and what the teams will focus on as they head to the track owned by former Camping World Truck Series star Rick Crawford. Keselowski is heading to Mobile Speedway for the ARCA race this weekend to drive for Sinica Motorsports. Bubba Pollard will be running his own car at Mobile but will be sporting the No. 29 in an agreement with Keselowski’s ARCA team.
Mike Neff, Frontstretch.com: We’re making the transition from Daytona to Mobile. There’s no doubt there are some differences between the tracks. What kind of challenges are you facing as you turn the car over from a superspeedway car to a short track car?
Brian Keselowski: They’re quite a bit different when you are dealing with the ARCA series. They are a whole different chassis. You’re looking at a lot of different clearance issues because you’re trying to get the car to travel a lot more. At Daytona, you’re locked in on your front spring rates, your rear spring rates, your rear shocks and your sway bars. You lock in a lot of stuff at Daytona that you’re not allowed to change, where at Mobile, you’re allowed a lot of change. You can pretty much do anything you want to do. There’s a lot of changes there, it is a complete different frame. We build a lot higher travel frames for places like Mobile, which is a downforce track. We’ll raise the clip up, we’ll actually lower the back of the car and raise the front of the car up trying to get more clearances. We try and get the steering box up higher so that we can get that clearance. There are a lot of challenges when you start raising things to try and get things right. We’re trying to get A-frame angles right. It depends on if you’re coil binding or not, and depending on which side you’re doing the coil binding on, left front or right front, brings a lot of different challenges. Trying to get A-frame angles, spindle heights, ball joint heights, and getting the bump steer right. When you start on one thing it goes down the line so there are a ton of differences between the two places. One being a half mile, semi-banked track that is pretty worn out from my understanding, which is going to be a higher braking track and you’re dealing with a lot more horsepower so you have to be able to hook that up. It is definitely a LOT of challenges.
Neff: I’m unfamiliar with the ARCA rules. Do they allow bump stops or not?
Keselowski: There are no bump stops in ARCA. It is mostly just coil binding. You can pretty much do whatever you want to there. (It’s) a little more open than NASCAR on that stuff like the heights of springs, NASCAR’s got that locked down pretty good about what height spring you can have, what number of coils the spring can have, the distance between the spring coils, how the coils are shaped, so there are a lot of differences there. In NASCAR the rules are a little different than ARCA, and ARCA just opened up the rules a little more so that helps. We’re also able to run 105-inch wheelbase cars at Mobile so that’s a big difference between the superspeedways. The superspeedways, Daytona and Talladega, are the only tracks where we’re not allowed to run the 105 inch wheelbase cars, so the old Nationwide car comes in to effect so we can run that at these types of tracks. That’s actually what we’re running this weekend. It’s a little bit different weight with some of the rules being a little bit different, but the basics are still the same.
Neff: Is there a benefit to using a 105-inch wheelbase car vs. a 110-inch wheelbase car at a track like Mobile?
Keselowski: I’d say not really. They do have a little bit of a weight difference and a little bit of aero differences, because the overhang on the front and the back is about two and a half inches on each end of the car. You might have a little more rear downforce on the Nationwide car vs. a little more front downforce with the 110-inch car, like the old Cup car would be. As far as major differences, you’d think that five inches of wheelbase would be a lot, but it really doesn’t seem to make a big difference in these cars. When I went from running my ARCA days to running a Nationwide car it wasn’t a lot of difference. These cars seem seem to be a bit more twitchy on a speedway, like an intermediate track, but on a short track they’re all pretty much the same. They have the same parts on them, they’re just shorter in the middle; that’s really the only major difference.
Neff: Before we got to the new car design on the Cup side of things, body hangers could to a lot of things with body position to affect how a car turns. Again, you’re at a short track, can body position on the car really make a difference in how the car handles?
Keselowski: I tell you what, you’d be really surprised how much it does matter. Some of the shortest short tracks I’ve been to, I’ve done some really crazy, wild stuff to the body, because it was legal to do, and I could not believe how much it worked. I won a race at Berlin in ’07 by taking a car and cutting it all up and changing the whole body. I couldn’t believe how much it changed how the car handled. I mean you’re not running more than 100, 110 tops at that place, and I could not believe the difference it made. I mean air is big, and it is free. That’s the big saying, it is free and it is out there for everyone to have. The better you can make that air work for you, the better you’ll run. It is just like mechanical grip, it is there, it is free to have, and if you can learn how to work it you’ll do better than the next guy.
Neff: On the Cup side of things, I know you’ve at least dealt with the new design car. When that originally came out, the theory was that you could run the same car at all of the tracks. Although I really don’t think there are a whole lot of teams doing that. With the rules being so tight and the limited amount of changes you can make to the cars, how do teams justify having so many different cars for different tracks?
Keselowski: Some of it is there is a little bit of interior metal differences. You’re allowed a little bit of room on interior sheet metal on tunnels, the way they’re shaped, the way they’re formed inside the car. That’s probably the biggest differences between superspeedway and intermediate track cars. On a short track car you’re trying to get all of the weight as low as you possibly can, trying to get all of the weight out of the car that you possibly can. On an intermediate track car you can’t really do that because the body will fall apart if you’re not careful. That’s some of the difference, they definitely build the frame parts a little differently, not so much the center part of the car, but the front clip and where you can place some things on the front clip. They allow you some different lead tubes in the cars. Usually, an intermediate car you run more front weight than you do on a short track car, so on a short track car you won’t run the lead tubes in the front because you want the weight in the rear of the car. Different radiator packages, different duct work packages, stuff like that. On a short track you usually run a smaller radiator because you’re trying to get the weight down, you don’t usually need the capacity that you do on the intermediate track. You’re off the gas, the air doesn’t mean as much on the short tracks and you’re typically knocking the fenders off of the thing anyway, so it’s really not that big of a deal. There are some suspension differences as far as placements of where the suspension points are on the car and general things like that.
Neff: I noticed the car you’re running this weekend. You’re running a short track so the brakes on the car are a lot bigger than they are on a superspeedway, but I noticed the front brakes seem to be a lot bigger than the rear brakes. Do you just normally dial in more front brake or is that a driver preference?
Keselowski: It is a little bit different. It is team and driver dependent. It is how much the driver likes to use the brakes and how much he uses the brakes. The brakes are really a major important factor when it comes to a short track. You saw a lot of that with the Cup guys at Phoenix. I believe Casey Mears lost his front brakes and all he had was rears. You can boil the front brake fluid so you really have to time that right. You have a little bit of adjustment in the car, but you really have to have your stuff close before you get to that adjuster. That adjuster is going to get a minor adjustment, but it is not much. All that does is change a little bit of balance from front to rear or vice versa, but it isn’t much. But the team has a lot into that. You have rotor size, you have caliper size, you have piston size, master cylinders, brake pedal length. It all has to do with how the brake system will react, the pad you use in the front and the pad you use in the rear and all of that stuff has to be really close. Typically, you’ll use 60% or more front brake, but again, that depends on the driver and how he uses the brakes. Some drivers are two footed drivers, some of them are still one footed drivers. Some drivers use the brakes really hard, others kind of float the car into the corners. So it is really going to depend on the driver but you can’t just change it up. That is one of the major differences between drivers and why crew chiefs take a while to understand a new driver and how he brakes and how the whole system works for them, especially on short tracks. That is a really one factor, another big factor is cooling. If you have really good cooling in the front and not in the rear, you could end up cranking a bunch of brake to the rear of the car and, all of a sudden you get a caution, and you take it into the corner and back it into the wall because you had too much rear brake in it and you wheel hop it. So it is really a fine art to figure out the braking systems on these cars.
Neff: I was talking to your guy who was working on the brake cooling system and he said you aren’t allowed to have cooling openings in the front of an ARCA car.
Keselowski: You’re allowed to but you don’t want to. It is like any car and you’re trying to find that free air. It’s not so much allowed to as, if you can get enough cooling by just getting fans under the car, and not opening the front of the car, it is just like grill work and radiators. If you can tape it down, because you have better radiator, then you’re going to get more front downforce, which is free because it is just air; if I can keep that downforce on the front end then the better the car will run, the freer it will run. So it is a battle between how much direct air cooling vs. under the hood cooling you can use. Some guys will go back and forth. A track like Martinsville, you use a lot of air cooling so you have the ducts open, there’s just nothing you can do because it is such a hard braking track. A place like Mobile, you can probably get away with just the fans underneath. It is going to be a battle back and forth and we may end up having to put some duct openings in the front but you’re trying to get that free air so it will run better.
Neff: One last thing, with EFI, I know we had a couple of issues at Phoenix, Stewart wasn’t able to get his system to recycle. What exposure have you had to EFI so far? I know you haven’t run a Cup race yet this year. With what you’ve seen so far, is it making a difference in the racing or are we still working out the bugs and figuring how to use it and fine tune it?
Keselowski: As far as racing, I think you’ll see more at Daytona and Talladega than you will at the other tracks, a little at the other tracks but, EFI is not an on/off system like the carburetor was. When you release the gas pedal there’s still back pressure in the system, because it takes so much pressure to run the system. I think that was where they were getting into trouble at Daytona, running over each other more than usual, because when the guy backed off of the throttle, it didn’t slow down as quickly as it used to, like he expected it to slow down. It is going to be a driver feel thing, kind of like when radial tires came along. Drivers didn’t have that feel they were used to and they wrecked some cars because they couldn’t feel it, and we had a lot of drivers hurt because of that. Newer drivers were able to pick it up a little faster than some of the older drivers. I think it is going to be the same thing with fuel injection. It is going to be a timing thing where drivers are going to have to see, if they’re catching a guy, they have to back off of the throttle a little sooner than they used to, because with the carburetor it would back off a little quicker, where it doesn’t back off as quickly with fuel injection. So there are some issues there.
It is going to be the same thing on other tracks. When you lift off going into the corner, it isn’t going to come back as quickly as you’re used to. It is going to be like driving a carburetor with weak throttle springs and it just (won’t) respond as quickly off of the throttle as it used to. Back to the throttle it isn’t as bad because the pressure is there, but coming off of the throttle it doesn’t respond the same way, so it is going to be a different feel for drivers, because the gas isn’t going to want to come back, it’s going to be more like a sticky throttle. As far as the problems with EFI, I think they’re still trying to figure out the pressure on it and how to keep the pressure right. When you run low on gas, how do you keep the pressure in the system? They’re getting two pumps in the fuel tank, and that’s nice, but what happens when you stop picking up fuel with the left pump? When you rely on that little bit of fuel left, you aren’t going to use the same amount of fuel that a carburetor used to. So, what is left in the gas tank isn’t what you really have left. So I think people are going to have to adjust their fuel pickup issues, as far as keeping the amount of fuel in the tank. If I have a gallon of fuel in the tank, it isn’t the same as when I had a gallon of fuel with a carburetor, because I can run out a whole lot faster. You have to keep so much more fuel in the system to keep it running. Y’know it is a pressurized system and it has return lines in it, just like a street car. By the time that fuel gets all of the way through the whole system, you don’t have as much fuel available as you thought you did, so there is going to be a lot to that.
Neff: On the engine cooling side, I know that carburetor used to help cool the engine when you were off of the gas because the unused fuel would help cool the system. Does EFI, with the pressure in the system, push enough fuel into the engine to help cool it down?
Keselowski: I don’t think there is going to be that much of a difference on the cooling side. There was at Daytona because of the rules that we had at Daytona and the placement of the air inlet, and that was a an issue there. I haven’t heard as much about issues on the cooling side of things, whether it was good or bad or indifferent. I think, one of the only issues we’re going to have is the amount of fuel that we have under the hood. It could be bad because you heat the fuel up more than you used to. Now we have fuel rails where we used to have a single fuel line going to the carburetor, it didn’t go past that. Now we have the rails that take the fuel to each of the injectors and underneath the hood heat, so there is going to be a lot more heat sink into the fuel, so there is going to be a lot of differences. As far as cooling of the engine, I don’t think they’ve had a whole lot of issues with that. Since now they are letting us do whatever we want with cooling for the engine, that kind of helped that out. Daytona was a different issue because they were trying to make it so we couldn’t do the two car draft so, although I didn’t necessarily agree with that, it was the way it was so, I think the cooling issue will probably be fine.
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Mike….really enjoy reading these “technical” articles. Wish there would be a lot more coming, like this one.
So many articles are about the drivers and owners; so, it is great to read about how the cars are put together. Great to read about how the ARCA and NASCAR cars compare. I have always wondered about the comparison, being that I am a big ARCA-fan, also.
Thanks for the interview and sharing the info.
Articles such as this bring out a pretty good point. That being the point of these so called start and parkers or back markers are some pretty sharp people. After reading things such as this it’s hard to just write them off and dumping a label on them.
Really interesting stuff to read.
Pretty insightful interview. I think I’ve gained a fair amount of respect for Brian Keselowski from reading this.
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