It’s Tuesday afternoon, and that means it’s NASCAR mailbag time. We have a lot to talk about this week, so let’s get right to it without delay.
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It appears that there is some bad blood between Joey Logano and Joe Gibbs Racing. I'm wondering if that's true. Also, is there bad blood between Team Penske and Joe Gibbs Racing? — Amy
Great question, Amy! Logano, of course, used to drive for JGR, but since his move to Team Penske, he’s had high-profile incidents with four different JGR drivers in less than four seasons:
• In 2013 at Auto Club Speedway, Logano slid up the track and hit Denny Hamlin going into Turn 3 on the last lap of the Auto Club 400. Hamlin’s car went down the track and went headfirst into the wall, breaking Hamlin’s back and knocking him out of four races.
• At Kansas Speedway in the playoff race in the fall of 2015, Logano tapped leader Matt Kenseth with less than five laps to go, turning his JGR Toyota around. Logano went on to win the race, Kenseth finished 14th.
Then, at Martinsville two races later, Kenseth got wrecked by Brad Keselowski, who like Logano drives for Team Penske. After getting repairs to his Toyota, Kenseth drilled Logano into the wall intentionally, drawing a two-race suspension.
• Last year in the championship race at Homestead, JGR’s Carl Edwards was ahead of Logano as the field came to the green on a restart with 10 laps to go and both men racing for the title.
Logano tried to dive under Edwards heading towards Turn 1. Edwards tried to block Logano and Logano hit him from behind, sending Edwards into the wall and out of the race. It’s highly debatable who was to blame for that incident.
• Sunday at Las Vegas, Logano and Kyle Busch were racing for fourth place on the final lap. Just like at Auto Club Speedway in 2013, Logano’s car washed up the track, this time hitting Busch and spinning him. Logano finished fourth, Busch 22nd.
Kenseth swore the Kansas incident was a case of Logano trying to wreck him on purpose. In all four incidents with his former JGR team, Logano said it was just hard racing. You can argue about who was to blame and you can argue whether these incidents were a remarkable coincidence.
But what you can’t argue about is this: When one driver wrecks a bunch of cars that belong to a rival team, there is bad blood and there are hard feelings. Like Kansas in 2015, I doubt this latest dust-up between Logano and JGR is over. Drivers — and crewmembers — carry hard feelings for a long time.
Should Joey Logano have been racing that hard on the last lap? — Mike
Of course, he should have, Mike. It’s the last lap of the race. He’s not going to say, “Oh, it’s the final lap and Kyle’s faster than I am. I should just get out of his way and let him pass me.”
Let me be very clear — it’s called racing, and on the last lap, drivers do everything humanly possible to advance or at least hold their positions. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
In Logano’s case at Las Vegas, it worked fine for him, but less well for Kyle Busch.
Would other drivers have criticized the safety crew at Las Vegas the way Kevin Harvick did after his crash? — Lance
Some would, some wouldn’t, but Harvick absolutely had a right to be angry. “The worst part was the medical response. It took them forever to get to the car,” Harvick said after he blew a tire and hit the wall, and he was right.
I went back and watched the tape. After Harvick’s car hit the wall, the track went yellow and the field did a lap under caution. Then, all the drivers who wanted to pit did so. The rescue crew did not reach Harvick until after the lead-lap pit stops had all been completed. That’s not good enough, especially when a driver hits the wall at close to 200 miles per hour.
Why is a wrecked car given a 5-minute clock, but if a part breaks on a car they can take it to the garage and repair it with no clock and then go back on the track. Why does it matter how the parts became broken? — Ken
The difference is safety. If you break a rear-end gear and replace it, the car does not become more or less safe with a new rear-end gear. It’s exactly the same as it was.
If a car hits the wall at 180 miles per hour and suffers significant body and/or chassis damage, there’s a very good chance it won’t be as safe as it was before the contact. In fact, you can pretty much bet it won’t be as safe.
Shanna LockwoodShanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports
Why will NASCAR not move to speedometers in the cars? Digital dash seems very easy! — Clay
You’re absolutely right, Clay, a speedometer would make it easier for the drivers. But NASCAR doesn’t want to make it easier for the drivers — they want pit-road speeds to be another variable for the drivers to have to manage.
In some forms of racing, the cars have buttons that drivers push to electronically limit their speeds on pit roads, so no one ever gets a speeding penalty. But that’s kind of boring to me.
Jasen VinloveJasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
If you had your pick what manufacturer would be brought back or in and what team do you think would benefit from it … or would a new team form? — Shane
I’d love to see Dodge come back. Ray Evernham got Dodge off to a strong start in 2001 and Team Penske won a championship with Dodge in 2012, the automaker’s last year in what’s now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
To do it right again would take a lot of money and probably an entirely new team. I don’t think you’d ever get one of the elite teams to move to Dodge with massive rewards. It’s one thing for Stewart-Haas Racing to switch to Ford this year. But to switch and do it with a new manufacturer? Just don’t see it.
Nigel Kinrade/LAT Photo USA
How exactly does NASCAR think it might lessen the noise from the cars, and do they have a particular decibel level in mind? It just wouldn't be the same if it were not loud. — Kathy
Exactly? That’s to be determined, as is, I suppose, specific targets for noise levels. As I understand it, they aren’t trying to silence the cars, just make them not quite so loud.
If this ever comes to pass, most likely NASCAR would use some form of muffler in the exhaust headers. In doing research for your question, I found something called a “Vortex Insert Cone” that sounds intriguing: “The Vortex Insert Cone is an excellent way to reduce the noise level of your exhaust without robbing a lot of power. Installed near the exit of the exhaust, it provides a large friction area to reflect and dissipate sound energy. Unlike most mufflers, the open area of the cone is actually greater than the area of the collector or exhaust pipe, thus reducing backpressure.”
Of course the down side to all of this is if NASCAR does come up with changes, the engine builders will spend a small fortune trying to maximize performance out of the new exhaust/muffler systems.