Virtual Crew Chief Instant Analysis: Kansas

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 Print   Email   Blog This's Tom Jensen is the former managing editor of National Speed Sport News and earned the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award in 1997.
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  • Kansas pit selections

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    Still searching for answers

    Q: Why did Greg Biffle win the race when he was not maintaining pace car speed? He did not pass the finish line under pace car speed. — Derek from Clare
    Q: I thought NASCAR guaranteed no races end under yellow? Couldn't they have run 3 more laps? — Jay from Greenville, S.C.

    A: Derek and Jay, Even I don't have answers for how this race was officiated. Had they gone green-white-checkered, Biffle would have run out of gas. It was a woeful day, in my opinion.

    No restart necessary

    Q: OK so what happened to Tony Stewart in the first crash, and why did NASCAR even restart the race this late after a long rain delay? It is not that I am a Stewart fan just one that thinks NASCAR is just a show lately instead of a race. — Cliff from Astoria, Ore.

    A: Stewart ran into the back of Truex which led to a cut tire. And, no, this shouldn't have been restarted.

    Editor's note: After three quick cautions following the red flag, the race was shortened to 210 laps.

    Editor's note: When NASCAR removed the red flag, they said they would run the race until lap 225 so crew chiefs could plan their strategy.

    Leading question

    Q: OK, Tom, I'm really confused...if they restart and the guys in the lead pit under yellow, how will the guys a lap down be at the tailend of the lead lap, even if they don't pit? Surely these teams can get a pit stop in under yellow without losing a lap? Help!!! — Jo from Rock Hill, S.C.

    A: As I understand it, there are 23 cars on the lead lap. Beyond that, we'll have to see what happens when NASCAR gets this thing under way. I'm waiting for an explanation myself.

    Wait and see

    Q: What would happen if NASCAR restarted? Would they throw a 10 to go sign like they did when Darrell Waltrip took his first win at Nashville or do something else? Also, when was the last time that a race was called due to darkness while under green? — Diego from Thornhill, Ontario, Canada

    A: NASCAR has not given us any indication of how long the race will go or when they'll flag it.

    Stop and start

    Q: So what happens if this race goes back to green and it gets dark? Does NASCAR throw a red flag if they cannot finish? — Jason from Dover, Del.

    A: Yes, it's possible the race will be restarted and shortened.

    Stewart dreads restart?

    Q: How far would Tony Stewart be able to run under caution laps if they get the race restarted? — Diego from Thornhill, Ontario, Canada:

    A: According to his crew chief, Greg Zipadelli, three to four laps.

    Rain is same for everyone

    Q: If NASCAR knows it's going to rain or rain is in the forecast, shouldn't they postpone the race 'til the next day, especially during the Chase. It's not fair or right for the other Chase drivers! — Amanda from Indianapolis, Ind.

    A: You can't do that. A lot of fans can't make it to rainouts on Monday because of work and/or travel obligations. People come from all over the country to these races and rainouts play havoc with travel plans. And here's the thing - the rain is the same for everyone. If one team plans and reacts better to rain, they deserve to win.

    Don't call COT audible

    Q: If NASCAR wanted to, could they audible and have teams run the COT at Lowes or another 1.5 mile track before the season ends since they are going fulltime with the COT next season and they dont have any races planned for it yet? Thx Tom read your blog every weekend. — Brandon from Puyallup, Wash.

    A: Thanks for being a loyal reader. NASCAR can do whatever they want, but such a move would be wildly unfair to teams, especially with a championship at stake. They will have run the COT at 16 races this year and that's plenty to know what it needs for next year.

    No night at Kansas

    Q: Do you think that there will be a night race at Kansas Speedway in the future? — Chris from Latham, N.Y.

    A: I've not heard that being mentioned as a possibility.

    No excuse for running over Kyle

    Q: Kyle Busch was very calm in his interview. I was expecting him to say Dale Earnhardt Jr. was just helping out his future teammates so that one might become reigning champ. After all, he is only eight races from being owned by Hendrick Motorsports. What did you think of the incident between the No. 8 and No. 5? — Dara from Skullbone, Tenn.

    A: Earnhardt ran over the back of Kyle Busch. He didn't do it on purpose, but Busch had a right to be mad. There's no good excuse for that.

    Harris is healthy

    Q: I haven't heard anything about Michael Waltrip's crew member that was injured on pit road recently. How is he doing, and is he going to be back this season? Who is filling in for him on the pit crew? Thanks for your time. — Julie from Kalamazoo, Mich.

    A: Art Harris is back with the No. 55 team this week. He fortunately wasn't seriously injured.

    JPM is AOK

    Q: How would you rate Montoya's season so far? Is he doing better then you thought? Seems like he is a disappointment when you look at the rookies the last few years like Denny Hamlin. — Branden from Pittsburgh, Pa.

    A: Thanks for the question. I think Juan Pablo Montoya is about where most people figured he'd be. Right now, he's 19th in points, has won a race and finished second at the Brickyard. He's also ahead of both of his teammates in points and is the driver to win for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates since 2002. On balance, I'd say that's good. I think it's unfair to compare him to Hamlin, because Joe Gibbs Racing is better than Ganassi's team.

    Alcohol sticking point

    Q: I read almost everywhere about the GEM/Petty Enterprises merger of some sort. How is the Budweiser sponsorship on the No. 9 car going to affect this given Petty's no-alcohol sponsor belief? — Kenny from Brooklyn, N.Y.

    A: Great point. I think that — along with keeping the Petty name — is one of the key points that will have to be resolved if the deal is to go forward.

    Looking for sponsors

    Q: Which Nextel Cup Series team do you think that J.C Penney's Department Store will sponsor in 2008? — Chris from Latham, N.Y.

    A: Which Nextel Cup Series team do I think will sponsor J.C Penney's Department Store will sponsor in 2008? Honestly, I don't know. I will say this — among the teams looking for additional sponsors are DEI, Yates Racing, Robby Gordon and Michael Waltrip.

    Dale Jr. via satellite?

    Q: Hi Tom! Theoretical question. Supposing DEI releases Dale Jr from his contract with one or two races to go this season. Could Hendrick put him in a fifth car for those two races? Would NASCAR allow an exception to its "four-cars-per-team" rule in order to have the sport's most popular driver in the field? Enquiring minds want to know! — Jo from Rock Hill, S.C.

    A: It's green flag time, Jo! I don't expect that to happen, but if it did, I think you'd be more likely to see Junior in a third Haas/CNC than a fifth Hendrick car. Haas/CNC is a satellite Hendrick team after all.

    Understanding obscenity severity

    Q: What is the point of NASCAR putting a driver on probation, then another rules infraction and NASCAR tries to find an excuse to look the other way? — Tom from Tucson, Ariz.

    A: Thanks for the question. I do not consider uttering an obscenity when you think you're off-camera as the same type of infraction as failing to pass inspection. I think they are different in severity and deserve to be treated as such.

    Inspecting the backup

    Q: If a driver has to go to his backup car at any time after his/her car has passed inspection, does the backup have to go through inspection also? — Tom from Orleans, Ont, CA

    A: Welcome. Yup, the backup has to go through inspection, too.

    Dario delay

    Q: Although Dario Franchitti coming to NASCAR is as obvious as the fact that the Kansas City Royals won't make the playoffs, has anything been announced about his contract? — Diego from Thornhill, Ontario, Canada

    A: Hello and thanks for coming back. Franchitti is still under contract with Andretti-Green and the last I heard has not formally signed with Ganassi.

    Let drivers race, not talk

    Q: Why should the drivers even be fined for anything they say? It should be the responsibilty of the television stations who broadcast the live interviews to have the interviews on delay! Give these guys a break to do what they do best, race cars and entertain us fans. I really miss the ol' NASCAR, where have you gone Mr. Yarborough? — Dave from Hamburg, N.Y.

    A: Right on, Brother! Let drivers race. Period. The qualities you need to drive a race car at 200 mph - bravery, skill, intensity, confidence and talent - have nothing to do with good manners. And I can't stand it when guys are all PC and namby pamby. Championships should be decided in the car with a driver's hands, eyes and feet, not outside the car with his tongue.

    Enforcing team order rules tough

    Q: When both Greg Biffle and Casey Mears are told to move over and let teammates by at the end of the race, how long will it be before a race is decided this way? As a fan and an official this is a terrible thing to let happen. It smacks of pro wrestling. Do you think NASCAR should make a rule that you earn your spot? — Mike from Wadena, Minn.

    A: Great point. Team orders shouldn't determine who wins. The problem is enforcement. How would you enforce the rule and know you were getting right every time? What objective criteria could you use to prove it?

    JGR Toyota 'Dega preview?

    Q: Daytona testing is coming soon using next year's COT, right? Does any rule say that Joe Gibbs Racing could NOT field a one-race-only fourth team with, say Kenny Wallace if Ricky Rudd is healthy, in a Toyota next week at Talledega? Thanks. — Joe from Louisville, Ga.

    A: Thanks for the question. There's no NASCAR rule that prevents a team from running cars from two different brands of car. What would prevent it are the manufacturer's contracts, which are pretty much iron clad. JGR is under contract with Chevrolet and can't build any Camrys or have any Toyota engines or parts in the shop until after the 2007 season is complete. And that will handicap them a little at the start of next year, because the other teams are already working on their 2008 packages.

    Editor's note: SPEED's 'NASCAR RaceDay' reported Tony Stewart won't be penalized for an obscenity uttered on live television Saturday because he didn't say ithe word in an interview setting.

    Chase turns on bad word?

    Q: So Tony Stewart swore on TV again during Cup practice. He's already on probation from his use of profanity at Indy. In theory, NASCAR should penalize him points. Do you think NASCAR won't because, since the show was on cable, "no FCC rules were violated?" — Aaron from Eden Prairie, Minn.

    A: Thanks for the question. My guess — and it's just a guess — is that NASCAR will not penalize Stewart with points. But that's purely a guess. Personally, I think it would be a travesty if the NASCAR Nextel Cup championship was decided because of something someone said on pit road on a Saturday, instead of what people did on the track on Sunday.

    No penalty necessary

    Q: My comment or question is about the incident in the garage with Tony Stewart. Isn't the media supposed to stay out of the way when drivers are working? If he had to ask the cameraman to move, he was too close/interfering with Stewart. You have a several thousand dollar camera and you have to be that close? Come on, that's not even believable. And how was he supposed to know it was going out on air? — Shawna Lea from Martin, Tenn.

    A: Welcome to FOX. I think I answered your question already when I answered Aaron's question. I don't think this incident was worthy of a points fine.

    Busch's prerace violation

    Q: If NASCAR misses something on the prerace inspection — such as with Kyle Busch in the Busch race Saturday — why can they turn around and hit someone with a points deduction and fine? This is a subject they should have caught in prerace inspection. — Mary from The Dalles, Ore.

    A: Good observation. In theory, yes, NASCAR should have caught Busch's intake manifold prior to the race. But if it was, in fact, illegal, better to catch it after the race instead of not catching it at all.

    Edwards penalty fair

    Q: How can Roush be fuming over the penalty handed to Carl Edwards when he got the low end of the penalties handed down this year? Plus, I dont understand why they're mad about a 25-point deduction during the Chase when Dale Earnhardt Jr. got docked 25 points in 2004 during the Chase when what he did wasn't even racing related. What do you think about the situation? Thanks for reading this; you do a great job. — Cody from Talladega, Ala.

    A: Hello there. It is the nature of car owners to play politics and lobby and few are more skillful at it than Jack Roush. I feel like the penalty to Edwards was completely fair and appropriate.

    Strained Raines-Gordon relationship

    Q: Hi Tom! I know there was no official penalty for Tony Stewart's bumping of Paul Menard on pit road at Dover. But do you know if NASCAR has talked to him about it? Given the Hamlin/Petty incident, it's starting to look like there's a lot of have/have not tension in the garage. What's NASCAR saying about that? And will they do anything about it? — Jo from Rock Hill, S.C.

    A: Happy weekend! I have not heard anything about NASCAR sitting anyone down except Tony Raines and Robby Gordon last Sunday morning. They wrecked in the Dover Busch race and NASCAR wanted to make sure the hard feelings — which still exist — didn't manifest themselves in the Cup race. NASCAR does a pretty good job of keeping the drivers under control and if they see anything else, I'm sure they will step in.

    Losing teams with COT

    Q: Do you think I am wrong? I think NASCAR is screwing up racing. They want to design the car and all the parts. I respect Jeff Gordon, but sometimes I wish he would say what he really thinks instead of the right thing to say. Do you remember when the weight of the driver became a big factor because Gordon was winning? NASCAR changed a lot of rules because of Gordon, but now they want to control what to drive, how to drive, next, who they want to drive. I don't care for Tony Stewart, but I do appreciate him telling it like it is. — Georgia from Edgewater, Fla.

    A: Thanks for the observations. The biggest concern in NASCAR for me isn't the COT; it's that in five years we're only going to have 11 or 12 teams with four cars each and most of them will be owned by rich investors, not racers.

    F1 champ to BDR

    Q: Hey Tom, when Jacques Villeneuve tries to race at Talladega, what team will he be driving for? Will it be Bill Davis Racing or Michael Waltrip? — Matthew

    A: Welcome. Jacques Villeneuve will drive the Bill Davis Racing No. 27.

    Tool time

    Q: Where can you get the special sockets NASCAR tire changers use? They do not stop the wrench between nuts. I have a special industrial application for this idea. — Mark from Vicenza, Italy

    A: Try

    Foreign future

    Q: Have you noticed that the new 2008 Honda Accord looks eerily similar to the current Toyota Camry?! ...won't be long now, don't you think? — Glenn from Troy, N.Y.

    A: Great point. Despite the struggles Toyota has endured in its first season in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, it's only a matter of time before another foreign automaker comes in. But whether it's Honda, Hyundai, Volkswagen or someone else remains to be seen.

    Open-wheel invasion at Homestead

    Q: Do you think that Sam Hornish Jr. and Dario Franchitti will race on NASCAR's final weekend of the season in either the Ford 300 or the Ford 400? — Chris from Latham, N.Y.

    A: Welcome to FOX and another great weekend of racing. I do expect Sam Hornish to race at Florida, as he was testing at Kentucky Speedway this week in preparation for that race. Franchitti's plans are less clear, as he is still under contract with Andretti-Green Racing and was not able to test at Talladega as planned.

    Not a COT penalty?

    Q: NASCAR insisted Carl's penalty was "not a COT" related problem. Could have fooled me! Please explain the legalese. — Paul from Vancouver B.C. Canada

    A: Thanks for the question. The reason Edwards was slapped with a 25-point penalty was that his car was too low in post-race inspection at Dover, period. The reason the penalty was not a lot bigger — say, 100 points — is that NASCAR found no improper modification or deliberate attempt to skirt the rules. Had NASCAR, for example, found the car was too low because the shocks had been tampered with, I'm sure the penalty would have been much more severe.

    Petty forfeits pole?

    Q: If you qualified first in a Petty Enterprises car, and you don't have the Bud decal, would you be allowed to keep the pole? I haven't seen this before. — Kas from Jamaica, West Indies

    A: Thanks for being with us. If a Petty Enterprises car wins the pole, absolutely the driver and the team get to keep it. What they DON'T get is a spot in next year's Bud Shootout or the bonus money for winning the pole.

    Too many 1 1/2-mile tracks

    Q: Why are there three high-banked 1.5 mile tracks in the Chase? They do not need all three of them. Is there any chance of NASCAR including a road course in the Chase? — Tom from Cincinnati, Ohio

    A: Hey, there. We have this discussion every year about this time. I'm totally on the same page with you on this. There are five 1.5-mile tracks in the Chase — Kansas, Lowe's, Texas, Atlanta and Homestead — which to me is about two or three more than we need. But NASCAR shows no signs of changing the schedule to include a road course, which I'd love to see.

    Teaming up to win Chase

    Q: Does anyone believe Greg Biffle would have tried to pass the No. 99 in the final laps at Loudon? On Inside Nextel Cup last week, Greg Biffle admitted to Michael Waltrip that he had team orders to let the No. 99 pass him at Loudon on the last lap. If anyone believes the No. 16 would have taken the win, he still believes in the tooth fairy. — Mike from Hooks, Texas

    A: Thanks for the observation. Does that surprise you? Carl Edwards is racing to become a series champion. Biffle is not. While in general I dislike team orders, I'm not at all surprised by them under the circumstances.

    By the book

    Q: If NASCAR certifies the COT before it can race and then finds — through no fault of the owner or driver — that the car is "too low", how can they justify a fine and penalty such as Carl Edwards and others have been subjected to? — B.G. from Claremont, Calif.

    A: Thanks for dropping by. I think the answer is pretty simple — the car has to meet certain specific measurements after the race. If it doesn't, the team is penalized, period. It doesn't matter who is at fault. If the car doesn't measure up, NASCAR can't ignore it. Can you imagine the outrage if Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson won the last race at Homestead and took the championship, only to flunk inspection and have NASCAR do nothing? There would riots in the streets.

    Jarrett penalized for tire

    Q: Did the No. 44 team get a penalty for letting the tire get loose at Dover? — Bently from Las Vegas

    A: Welcome to FOX. According to the official post-race NASCAR penalty report, Dale Jarrett was indeed sent to the tail end of the longest line after a tire got away from his crew during a pit stop on Lap 77.

    Why some drivers make more money

    Q: Why is it that Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished behind Greg Biffle but made more money at Dover according to results sheet? That's only one example of the many instances that are similar (i.e. McMurray and Stewart). This has always puzzled me. — Dan from Dallas, Texas

    A: Hello. Glad you could be here. The total amount shown for each driver at each race actually consists of winnings from a number of different sources — the racing purse; television money; so-called "plan" money that NASCAR pays out to a number of teams based on performance; and a whole slew of individual race contingency programs such as the Bud Pole Award, the Goodyear Gatorback Fastest Lap Award, the Commit Lozenges Commit to Win Award and a bunch of others. And not every team choses to be eligible for every award. Petty Enterprises, for example, is a staunchly anti-alcohol organization and doesn't carry the Bud Pole decal necessary to be eligible for the Bud Pole Award each race.

    Mayfield still looking

    Q: Has Jeremy Mayfield got a ride for next year yet? — Terrie from Rock Hill, S.C.

    A: Hi there. If Jeremy Mayfield has a ride for next season yet, I've not heard of it and don't know. Last I heard, he was still looking.

    Tagged: Paul Menard, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Robby Gordon

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