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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Fanning the Flames: Speed = Distance Divided by Time

Thanks once again for a fun batch of input this week. You’re taking the column back!

And Doug, I haven’t forgotten about yours, bud. It’s a two-weeker.

Q: Glad to see that the drivers are speaking up about the Carl Edwards infraction. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Elliott Sadler and others were vocal in their opinions that Jack Roush and Edwards were not being forthright concerning their knowledge of intent about the oil-box lid. Maybe NASCAR telling the guys that they could show more personality is actually working. In the past, drivers merely gave canned answers so as not to rock the boat. This infraction has brought about a much more decisive reaction and pointed comments out of some. – Matt Ralph

A: When Sadler states that Roush Racing is “insulting my intelligence” in going to the bolts-failure card and Earnhardt Jr. calls it a “ridiculous” excuse, it tells you all you need to know. If fans wanted to hear politically correct, programmed quotes from the competitors then press release copy editors would be millionaires. I’m assuming, of course, that most aren’t.

Q: Chrissy Wallace (Mike Wallace‘s daughter and Rusty’s niece) is set to make her Truck Series debut at Martinsville on March 29. Meanwhile, IndyCar star Danica Patrick is posing damn near topless in the SI swimsuit issue. Who is more likely to break NASCAR’s sex barrier… blonde blue-blood Chrissy or brunette bombshell Danica? And when do you think a team will actually invite a woman into the good ol’ boys club? Next year, five years, 10 years, never? – Rowdy Rush

A: Let me knock out the final question first, Rush. We’ve had women in the Cup Series before, but never in a truly competitive ride. That said, when a female proves she’s ready and able to get the job done on the Cup level, she’ll have plenty of offers. I just don’t think that right now, at 9:08 p.m. CT on March 9, 2008, there is one ready to make that jump. There are many working to get there, but NASCAR or a team owner cannot advance anyone solely because of race or sex. This is the big leagues, where amateur mistakes can prove fatal; that’s what late models are for. When someone is ready, believe me, they’ll get a call.

As for Chrissy vs. Danica: I’ll take Chrissy, although I’m not sold on her by a long shot just yet. Cup is her goal, though, and Danica’s is an Indianapolis 500 win. Besides, now that IndyCar and Champ are merging, Danica has more reason to stay. That, and the open wheelers that are dropping like flies out of NASCAR may discourage any other defectors from making that leap across the Ohio River.

Q: How bad would it really be if NASCAR let Bridgestone-Firestone, Hoosier or any other tire manufacturer compete with Goodyear? I can’t imagine that the safety vs. speed issue would really be that big of a deal in the long run. – Dale Petty Jr.

A: Actually, I believe the most notable problem would, in fact, be the tire companies compromising safety for speed. Softer tires are faster but more susceptive to failure, however the allure of winning can often times blind, eventually forcing the tire manufacturers to compromise more and more.

STAFF SIDE-BY SIDE: IS IT TIME FOR GOODYEAR TO HAVE COMPETITION?

That said, I in no way blame Goodyear alone for the problems experienced at Atlanta or anywhere else on the circuit. Insane camber settings and bumpstops that put more abuse on the tires, namely the right side tires, coupled with a new car no one has quite mastered just do not mix with a rock-hard tire that did not put rubber down, thus making for a slick track, not mention different weather/temperature conditions than encountered during test sessions. All of these played a factor in my book.

Q: OK Matt, novice question. Can you tell me how NASCAR calculates the average lap speed during qualifying? Thanks for the info! – Beth Hawkings

A: A question is a question Beth, and this is the place to get it answered. Calculating average lap speed isn’t as difficult as you might think, and since we’re heading to Bristol this week, we’ll use that as the example.

In short, the equation is distance divided by time. The one caveat is that time (lap time) must be equated into hours (and there are 3,600 seconds in one hour). So, let’s say you ran a 16.25-second lap. To convert that into hours, just divide 3,600 by 16.25. That gives you 221.538. Take that number and multiply it by Bristol’s .533-mile distance and you get a one lap average speed of 118.079 mph. That’s good enough for 21st in last August’s Sharpie 500.

Thanks folks. Enjoy Bristol, I understand there may be empty seats this trip. They’re giving them away like mad here in Nashville.

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