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Bill Elliott: Thanks so much August 8, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Drivers, Fun Stuff, NASCAR.
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Claire B.log – Saturday, August 9 08
Awesome Bill Discussion:

Hey all!

Bill Elliott was the topic of an email that I received recently – and the email impressed me so much that I read it on the air and it created some discussion that provoked a flurry of emails. Here’s the email that kicked it all off: I’d love your feedback on the emails at the bottom, so read on:

Email from Jay :

Hey Claire B.

I’ve got an interesting show idea for you. What about Ray Evernham’s promise to Bill Elliott that when he ran his last race, it would be in the number 9?

You know, with all of the attention Dale Jarrett got in the early part of the year, it is unfathomable to me that Bill has been literally forgotten by the media this season, especially since he announced that this was his final year. No offense to Jarrett, but Bills career credentials trump Jarrett’s, as do his many, many Most Popular Driver awards. Yet Jarrett was treated like a true legend, which I have no problem with. Jarrett had a great
career and deserves to be recognized. But let’s face facts- Bill Elliott single handedly turned mainstream America on to Nascar during his record setting year of 1985. With the exception of Dale Earnhardt Jr., nobody in the sport has even come close to the kind of fan
following that Bill has had over the years.

Back to the Ray Evernham part- Ray clearly said several years back that when Bill decided to step away, the number 9 was his to run in that last race. And everyone agrees certain numbers are synonymous with certain drivers…Richard Petty in the #43; Dale Earnhardt in the #3, Cale Yarborough in the #11, David Pearson in the 21 car. And while it has been quite the historical moment to see Bill run for the legendary Wood Brothers 21 just like his idol David Pearson did, ANYONE with a historical perspective knows who made the number 9 famous- and it wasn’t Kasey Kahne.

That being said, in an era where more and more longtime fans seemingly get pushed aside to make way for the new generation of fans, where has the loyalty in Nascar gone? It has become a game of “How much money can you spend?” and that is not the foundation that Nascar was built on. Nascar claims that they want to get back to their roots. But the
truth is, with the influx of mega-teams created by Rick Hendrick and Jack Roush, there is no way possible to recreate what made the early days of Nascar so magical. It just frustrates me as a longtime fan to see my lifelong hero and idol, Bill Elliott, turned into another also
ran by the media and by Nascar. Granted, Bill and the Wood Brothers have had a terrible season that has them fighting to even make most races. But at least give the man that has given so much of himself as an ambassador to the sport the respect of letting him finish out his career as it began- in a number 9 race car. And I understand in an age of 20 million dollar sponsor deals, a company like Budweiser may balk at running Kasey Kahne in a different number for one race. But Bill has earned the right to run that number one final time, and if anyone should know the type of person Elliott is, it would be Budweiser, whom
Bill drove for from 1992-94 for Junior Johnson, and was 2 laps away from winning them a championship over Alan Kulwicki.

Thanks for taking the time to read.

Jay C.
Newnan, Georgia

After I aired the reading of the email above – I began to get calls – a lot of calls. I also got emails like the ones below:

Email from Wes:

Claire B,

First of all, thank you for reading that email sent in by a listener regarding Bill Elliott and Ray’s promise to him.

On the day Bill Elliott decides it’s going to be his last race, he will drive the No. 9.” – Ray Evernham

How good is someone giving you their “word” nowadays? I remember hearing this and seeing it posted in the following months after Bill Elliott announced he would be driving part-time. I recall thinking to myself, “that’s going to be a fine day when Bill drives the #9 for the final time”. A legend.. one of the good ol’ boys.. the Fastest Man Alive.. Million Dollar Bill.. Awesome Bill from Dawsonville and his final drive in the #9!

Bill stood next what was left of his 2003 Dodge Intrepid. It’s rear quarter panel torn open like a soda can after a dog had gnawed on it all afternoon. His right foot pressed up against the exhaust trying to choke out the fire. A few minutes ago he was coming out of turn 2 on the final lap with the lead. We all saw the rear of the car wobble to the right and got that sickening feeling in the pit of our stomachs. For months on end before this race the media would ask Bill when he was going to retire. Bill would shine his pearly whites and give us his old famous line, “we’ll just have to wait and see”. We waited, and we saw Bill standing next to his “ole piece” he delivered the words to us that he would be back. Elliott fans all around rejoiced!

Bill’s definition of being back and my definition got somewhat tangled up. I thought he would be back in the #9. Bill and Ray layed out a semi-retirement plan that seemed ample at first, but waned as funding wasn’t always there for Bill to run in competitive equipment. It became a guessing game as to when we would see the next time that Bill would race. Over the next 4 years we would see Bill in the 91, 98, 00, 83, 39, 19, 21. Bill fans would hear of a race he was scheduled to be in only to show up at the track to see someone else in his car. It got harder and harder to follow our 16 time MPD.

For me the breaking point was watching Bill fail to make the field for the 2008 Daytona 500. The salt in the wound was failing to qualify at the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (Bill’s home track). It became evident to me that Bill’s services provided through his Past Champions Provisional would no longer be needed when Dale Jarrett decided to to do a parade lap during qualifying. With the Petty’s struggling and Sam Hornish teeter-tottering the top 35, Bobby Labonte and Kurt Busch become hotter commodities than Bill. So us Elliott fans sat around hoping qualifying gets rained out so could make the show. We wonder when will be Bill’s last race.
I started reading old Bill headlines when I came across Ray Evernham’s promise. It brought me back to that day when I remembered thinking how cool it would be to see Bill in the #9, one last time. I imagine Bill holding onto one of his PCP’s for the fall Atlanta race. I imagine Ray Everhnam honoring his promise. I imagine Budweiser Beer sponsoring a Dodge with the #9 on the side. I imagine Dan, Ernie and Bill standing next to the car for a photo. I imagine George Elliott and Harry Melling smiling down. At the beginning of 2008 NASCAR president Brian France proclaimed that NASCAR needs to get back to its roots. Is there anything rooted deeper than Bill Elliott driving the #9?

I created this petition to show Ray that we remember his promise to Bill. We ask that Bill’s fans get our one last chance to see our racing hero in the car he made famous.
by, Wes Eisenschenk
irAnd more – this from Travis in Oklahoma:

Email from Travis:

So what about Ray Evernham letting Bill Elliott drive the #9 for the last race? Where is all the attention to Bill’s final race year on the circuit this year? Where is the media with him like they were with Dale Jarrett? There seems to be a total lack of respect for this man who help put nascar on the map and who’s fan base was as large as bill himself winning the most popular driver award what 14 times maybe? I don’t know, but I hope you could clear some things up Claire. Your the biggest sweetheart in Nascar right now and I don’t know how empty my life would be with out listening you and being a part of my day 5 days a week. Love the show Claire and thank you for all the thankless hard work.

Travis Turney

I knew the only possible fair thing that I could do was to go and find Bill Elliott and ask him personally what he thought about all of this. Elliott has been helping the Wood Brothers by driving the 21 car for them when they need him – and has started a driver development business in which he will mentor and assist young drivers. “Paying it forward,” is what Elliott is doing these days.

Claire B.: What is your plan as far as racing? Are you not done after this year. Some fans think that you are just kind of kind of quietly going out into the sunset and I wonder if you think that is what you are doing?

Elliott: “Well some days I think I wonder. You know right now I have a good opportunity to drive the #21 Wood Brothers car and it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve been kinda looking pretty hard at saying this is my last year of doing this mess and trying to focus on this other stuff, cause it’s hard to do both. It’s hard to do everything you need to do and concentrate on both deals. I think it’s almost like Mark thought – you either need to be in it or out of it and I guess that’s the decision that I need to make. But you know right now I’ve got so many other things going on that it’s hard to be in it 100% and you know …looking at the thing realistically – looking at the Wood Brothers and where they are at being a single entity we need to try to get help us grow back and get back to where they need to be. You know every time we come into these places – just like coming to Pocono (last weekend) we changed a lot of stuff – a lot of things are different – we got no practice (Saturday) so we didn’t have the last race of running well. They had a different guy here with Andretti and Andretti did a great job…and they brought David Hyder in and now we’ve turned around to a totally different direction. They have good ideas but it’s a whole growing experience and when you don’t have other teams to build off of and grow off of. I know you hear a lot of people say that but it’s just a simple fact of what racing has become today….”

Claire B: – I had an email from Travis and he was up on the wheel about Bill Elliott and he was furious. He said that Ray Evernham had promised that when you were done your last race would be in the #9 did he make that promise to you?

Elliott: “I don’t really recall – I was hoping that my last race would be with Evernham but it just didn’t work out. What my ideal situation would have been – when I said at the end of 03 I wanted to stop running all races – I wanted to focus on a 15-18 race schedule – well we fell short of that. Then, we got to kind of floating around there and I mean it got to be where it was only just a couple of races. Then I got with Michael and did a few races and with some other guys kind of back and forth and that’s hard to do too. You needed some consistency. You take anything you know about this sport – having people around you and keeping that consistency is probably 75% of the game……it always has to do with the nucleus around you. Look at Jeff Gordon and the ups and downs he’s had. It always has to do with the nucleus around them. You know he’ll go through a period where he ran well with Ray (Evernham) then Ray left and it took them a little bit of time to get sorted back out and it’s been a kind of up and down roller coaster. But you take the guys that have been most successful there’s always a key nucleus that has stayed with them and stayed behind them. I think that is probably the most important part of this sport and I think that’s what most people fail to realize.”

Claire B: Do you feel that – as the emailer wrote- that for a man who put NASCAR on the map who was the most popular driver so many times – that the media is not giving you the farewell or giving you the attention right now that you deserve. That unless you don’t make the show they hardly even interview you and that they gave Dale Jarrett so much more attention. How does Bill Elliott feel?

Elliott: “Well I feel fine. The thing that I look at is that Dale Jarrett had UPS and UPS’s push behind him. That makes a lot of difference. When UPS pays a lot of the tabs within the business and they can put the Ads and put the PR out there that is different than where I am here today where I’m just running a limited schedule with what I am doing – you can put out big press releases and do a lot of stuff. You know we are kind of out here on Gilligan’s Island doing out own little thing and you know you’re so easily forgotten. I don’t get upset about it – I don’t worry about it. It’s not good for the fans though because I still have fans that want to know what’s going on – whether you are running 51st out of a 43 car field I mean they still kind of want to know what’s going on. That’s what I have always said that I get up on my soap box about in this sport is that they don’t cover everybody within the sport. Which is like – we’ll pick these guys and that’s all we’ll talk about and I’ve always said that.”

Claire B: If you decide that next year you are not going to race – do you want a big good bye at the end of this year?

Elliott: “Well that I don’t know. That is I will take out here in the next little bit. But I am in such a different perspective as some of these other guys. It’s just like Mark (Martin) and Terry (Labonte) – they did their big farewells and here they are back again and I don’t understand that. You know do what you say and say what you do you know and that’s the thing that I look at. I’ve never said I was quitting up to this point and I’m looking very hard at calling it the end at the end of this year because I don’t really know where I want to be next year other than trying to help these guys.”

Claire B: “So in essence Bill Elliott, the man who helped to build this sport, is helping young drivers and helping a struggling race team – is that where you want to be?”

Elliott: “Well why not. If I can help these guys to get to the next level – then I’ve done something well. Even if they take only one thing out of what I tell them – through this whole deal. If I can help them get through a few hard times or help them get through this or whatever – I’ve either been there or I have seen it in this sport and I don’t know how many people I’ve seen come and go. Granted I look back on my career and maybe I wasn’t the best driver at a lot of places but I worked harder than most of the guys. I had that extra determination to get to the next level. When we got that door cracked open – a toe was in there , then a foot was in there then we finally got in there and go to the next level.”

I want to ask the guys this. When was the last time a team outside the state of North Carolina won a championship. I can’t answer that – I don’t know. You need to research that and find out. We were in Georgia in 88 and I can’t think of anybody since then that has bee out of North Carolina and has won a championship.”

Claire B: What do you want to tell your fans?

Elliott: “Well I just want to say how much we appreciate the sport over the years and all the stuff that has happened. I’ve said this a thousand times – if my career ended three or four years ago I’ve had a great career. I’ve done virtually everything within this sport. Granted, I only won one championship but we’ve won Daytona we won Indy, we won a lot of the races in the middle there – and we’ve had a good career. It’s the point of – and the next generation is coming regardless of what we about it and it’s going to continue on. That’s just evolution – we live to die and then there’s another group that is going to come along. That’s the key thing is if we try to live back in the past – yea I had my hay day but so did a lot of other people. Richard (Childress) went through his hay day and Cale (Yarborough) went through his hay day and so on and so forth.

You are going to have these guys today who are going to have their hay day but what are they go to do when they realize their hay day is gone and what are they going to do after that? I think that’s the key thing is that you look at all the fans and appreciate all the support and just be thankful for all the friends that you have created around the country and I think that is the biggest thing that has helped me within this sport.”

Claire B.: If you never close the door then you could come back for a one off race next year and you never really have to make that decision or do you have to decide?

Elliott: “Well there’s going to eventually be a point that you say hey this is it I am going to quit this and I’m going to go do something else whether you go play with your dirt car. I don’t intend to just totally quit driving. You know like Rusty (Wallace) he just totally cold quit and I don’t know – if that’s the decision that you make We were somewhere one day and I tried to get him to get into something and he wouldn’t even do that. It was just a hobby car somewhere and we were just playing around. I raced a few Legends races just to help understand how those cars are and I’ve raced some dirt stuff. I feel like if I can be the racer that these guys (his young development drivers) are when I started in I would have won a lot more races than I did. As well as total races run when I started running cup it’s so few versus these kids today come up and they’ve already run 100 or so races their first year.”

Claire B. So you are doing ok- you are going to make your decision some day. You have these young development drivers coming up including your son. You are not angry at anybody for not covering you more but in general you think the sport should be covered better.

Elliott: “Totally – I am not talking about necessarily me but everybody within the sport. There are fans from all the way down the list from the guy running in the back to the guy running in the front. I mean maybe it isn’t so obvious to the people on the network and really I don’t know the inner workings of a lot of stuff but I understand it and I understand how it works and I understand that’s probably the way that it’s going to be but still the guys in the back deserve a little bit of attention now and then.”

Poll: Bill Elliott is contemplating what to do about his future. Right now he’s concentrating on “Paying it forward” running for the Wood Brothers and working on his new young driver development program. What should Elliott do?

Elliott should:

NO…not another retirement tour – Don’t do it for any reason

Bill Elliott has earned a farewell – Give the man what he deserves

Stay – don’t even think about retiring race when you can

It’s up to Bill Elliott and the fans will go the direction he decides to go and what makes sense for him – either way is fine.

That’s it for now. More later in the weekend.

Claire B
XM Satellite Radio

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Claire B.log Race Day August 3, 2008 Pocono Raceway August 3, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, In The Garage, Teams, Trackside.
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Circuit Gilles Villeneuve Famous Wall of the C...Image via WikipediaClaire B.log
Race Day August 3, 2008
Pocono Raceway

Hi All! Sorry this was not posted sooner. I wrote and sent it in this (Sunday) a.m. but had problems with my blog, I hate that.

I just got back from the Driver’s Meeting and have been working on some stories for next week so have been busy in the garage and now am back in the media center to drop you a line. I think today’s race is going to get interesting.

At the Driver’s Meeting Kiefer Sutherland was a real hit. “Mirrors,” starring Kiefer Sutherland, Paula Patton and Amy Smart and directed by Alexandre Aja, will be featured on J.J. Yeley’s No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry during the race, while Sutherland is grand marshall today and will give the “Gentlemen, Start Your Engines” command. In “Mirrors,” which opens in theatres everywhere Aug. 15, I am told that Sutherland portrays a troubled ex-cop who must save his family from an unspeakable evil that is using mirrors as a gateway into their home. After the Driver’s Meeting a huge throng of Kiefer’s peeps – his fans – his handlers and others made their way to and into the DLP hauler. It was quite the crowd.

Also a hit at the Driver’s Meeting was Cindy McCain wife of U.S. Senator and presidential candidate John McCain. She was introduced at the Driver’s Meeting and told the drivers and crew chiefs in attendance that she is a huge race fan (aren’t all political candidates?) although I think she meant it -and she wished them well in today’s race. She played a role in the pre race ceremonies on the stage.

At the Driver’s Meeting itself – NASCAR announced a competition caution 20 laps into the race due to the heavy rains and no practice on the track for the Sprint Cup guys.

There were the usual drivers rules and regs and no questions from the drivers before we prayed.

Pit Road Speed: 55 mph
Caution Car Speed: 70 mph
PIt Road Speed Begins: 165 before the first pit box
Pit Road Speed Ends: 75 past the last pit box
Minimum Speed: 59.36 seconds

Observations from the Driver’s Meeting:

Is Kasey Kahne working out? I usually don’t notice but he had a grey t-shirt on and his shoulders looked dramatically wider to me. He must be hitting the weights.

Kiefer Sutherland had a DLP crew shirt on – you might want to keep an eye for him in the pits

I heard Cindy McCain visited the garage stall of the 48 team.

No, I am told, Penske Racing has not already selected it’s driver for 09.

On another note I got a news release from Goodyear at 1:00 p.m. EST Today – so I’m passing it along to you:

News Release:


LONG POND, Pa., August 3, 2008 — NASCAR and Goodyear made history
yesterday, running its first-ever points-paying race in the rain in the
Nationwide Series event at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.

When rain covered the 2.709-mile course, NASCAR red-flagged the race
and teams came down pit road to put on their Goodyear Eagle Wet Weather
Radials, as well as other modifications to the car to make racing in
wet conditions possible. When drivers eventually took the track to
restart the race on lap 11, history was made.

“It’s been about 10 years since we ran in the rain at Suzuka, Japan, so
it’s great to finally see our wet weather tires race in competition,”
said Stu Grant, Goodyear’s general manger of global race tires.
“Goodyear has always performed well in wet conditions and this NASCAR
version was certainly no exception.”

Goodyear’s partner in this historic event – NASCAR – was equally
pleased with the results.

“The rain tires worked well under extreme circumstances,” said Robin
Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president of competition. “Once the teams got
used to running them, the lap times really started to come down. We were very pleased with how the tires handled the rain.

“We didn’t set out to create history, we set out to put on a good race
for the fans,” Pemberton added. “It being the first points race run in
the rain, we’ll all look back on it as a good experience for us.”


Tricia in California had this emailed question to me:

Hey Claire B:

While watching practice this morning, my husband noticed that Brian Vickers’ car had red rims on the front instead of the back. Did they put rear tires on the front, or were the rims just on the wrong tires?? TV even covered them changing tires, but no one mentioned the rims being backward. Inquiring minds want to know… Thanks.

– Tricia in CA

I talked with the Red Bull guys and they said that the red rimmed tire was a Pocono tire that was put on the rim for possible use last week in Indy and that’s why it got on a red rim. It was placed in the right spot but was mounted last week in case they needed it for Indy and was a Pocono tire.

I’ll have more later…I’ve got some ground to cover in the garage so I gotta go.

Enjoy the race..enjoy the day.

Claire B
XM Satellite Radio
Pocono Raceway

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Saturday Pocono Blog and Goodyear Tires Interview Transcript August 2, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Controversy, Track Testing, Transcripts.
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One of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company's bl...Image via WikipediaClaire B.log

Saturday, August 2, 2008
Pocono Raceway

Latest in Tire Saga: Goodyear Announces Actions to Address NASCAR tires

Both Sprint Cup Series practices were rained out today and were canceled due to rain. This should make tomorrow’s race interesting to say the least. This morning Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company announced actions toward solving the tire issues that hampered last weekend’s event at the Brickyard.

After the announcement was made – I walked down to the the Goodyear hauler in the garage here at Pocono Raceway to interview Stu Grant, General Manager, Global Race Tires for Goodyear (see transcript of interview below). Before I get to that interview here are the basic steps that Goodyear is making:

Next steps include:
• Completing the extensive post-race analysis in process that includes
all internal aspects of tire design and manufacturing and discussions
with key external stakeholders, including representatives from NASCAR,
team owners

, crew chiefs and drivers to gain insight to information
that will provide clarity to the final analysis.

• Engaging research scientists and engineers, including available
assets and modeling capabilities from the Sandia National Laboratories,
to develop a range of potential short-term solutions.

• Scheduling a fall track test at Indianapolis with multiple
participants to test solutions to full fuel stop capabilities and test
again in the spring of 2009 to fine-tune the specific race setup.

• Accelerating discussions with appropriate NASCAR representatives,
team owners, drivers, crew chiefs and track management on any future
tire. Among elements already being considered are larger overall
diameters, wider section widths, and larger bead diameters.

• Developing future tires as a long term solution, looking proactively
at the vehicle, tire, setup and track combinations for a complete
package to assure only the highest level of performance for NASCAR’s
racing fans.

TRANSCRIPT: Claire B. Lang Saturday, August 2 Interview with Stu Grant/Goodyear:’

CBL: Stu in general what are you guys doing, actions to address the tire issues at Indy?

Grant: “Well we understand that it’s our issue to fix and we were unexpected by the results that we saw on Sunday, we didn’t predict that. So now what we are doing is we are analyzing all of our manufacturing operation to make sure that the right side tire that we raced there was actually what we thought it was. We’ve been through that analysis and we’re satisfied that we are ok in that respect so now what we are looking at is that whole mechanism of tire wear that ah we’re trying to model the new car on that race track with that tire combination to be able to predict that wear so that we can come up with a solution for 2009.”

CBL: So what will you do to fix it?

Grant: “Well it’s the attitude of the car when it enters the corner it’s changing the way the tire abrades so what we’ve got is we’ve got again we’re trying to model that exact interface between the tire and the race track. But then what we are going to do is modify the materials that we have in that rubber. We’ve talked to a lot of our research chemists to get some ideas from them and what we’re going to try to do is formulate a compound differently so that in that kind of an abrasion mode we put a tread compound on that tire that will actually rubber in the racetrack.”

CBL: Were you shocked that it didn’t rubber in the racetrack with all the research, all the testing all that you know about tires?

Grant: “Yea we were absolutely shocked. Again we ran the same right side compound in 06 and 07 and we tested it in 08 on the car of tomorrow. It appeared that that right side compound was going to be the best race tire compound that we had available. We saw nothing in that test that would indicate a problem. We did see high wear in that test like we normally do but we, again, thought the track would rubber in and be fine with the race and that’s what never happened. We did see some improvement on the right front and honestly that was a fairly normal wear throughout the race on Sunday. In other words the right front looked to us in 08 almost like it did in 07 and 06 but the right rear wear was just horrendous.”

CBL: Can you talk about discussions about the width of the tire -making it wider- which we have been talking about for years.

Grant: “We actually had some discussions with NASCAR about a larger tire several years ago. We initiated those discussions again with NASCAR in the spring of 08 so we are actually doing a lot of work on that. We have a lot of people doing some modeling on what exactly this tire size should look like. What tire size does this car really want. So we are looking at larger bead diameters, we are looking at larger section width, we’re looking at a larger diameters. We are trying to figure out the right contained air volume to carry the load that these cars deliver and also what we think might provide the best handling.”

CBL: Some of the drivers are saying that NASCAR and Goodyear should come up with a tire that doesn’t depend on the track rubbering in. That might require the drivers to overcome criticism of the tire being harder to handle.

Grant: “Boy that is really a complicated situation. See on a really high abrasive race track you are faced with the rubber going somewhere. Let’s take Indianapolis – one of the most abrasive surfaces that we run at. No matter what you put on there from a tire standpoint – it is going to wear those tires out and it is going to rubber in the race track. So what you’re faced with is – in order to try to get around it – You know that’s going to happen. So if you go there with a simple solution – oh gee lets just put more tire rubber on there – put more gauge in the tread – well then you end up with like Dover in 1994. What happens is – you have a tire and everything looks fine and the track gets rubbered in and then you come to race day and the track is rubbered in and the wear goes away and the tire contains the heat and you blister everything. So you can’t get yourself in that situation. So you have to have a tire that deals with the abrasion but also isn’t going to cause you problems on race day when you know that the track surface is going to change. So you have to be able to deal with that on Sunday.”

CBL: What about addressing things that you are hearing (in the discussion of this) that is not accurate?

Grant:” I’m not sure specifically what people are saying that is not accurate. We should have had a tire there that worked on the Car of Tomorrow on that race track and we did not do that. Our job as a supplier is to produce a tire that has a good race and we didn’t do that. Now in retrospect in the absence of a NASCAR open test like we had at 06 and 07 at Indianapolis in the absence of that we should have gone in there and rented the race track and taken 20 cars there to make sure we had a tire that would go a gas stop. You know that is not something that we typically do but that is something that we could have done and if we would have done that we would have seen the track didn’t take rubber and we could have reacted to that.”

CBL: Why did you not do that?

Grant: “Because what we had was – we had this known quantity – a proven race tire that had worked for us in 06 and 07 – we know the Car of Tomorrow and what it does and doesn’t do so we were comfortable with that aspect of it. The tire test that we had on the Car of Tomorrow at that race track with Kurt Busch, Brian Vickers and Dale Earnhardt Junior was a good test and we saw nothing out of the ordinary there so there was no signal that would indicate to us that we needed to do something like that.”

CBL: Some said that perhaps when you are a driver going to a tire test you don’t push it to the limit or don’t share all?

Grant: “I think that these guys are professional drivers and when we go to a tire test they know what’s on the line. They know that they are there to help us develop a tire that we’re going to go back and race. I think we get 100 percent from these guys. Now the difference is you test and you drive a certain way. The change then is when they race you race a different way don’t you? The car moves around a lot more on a race track as you are passing and obviously you are not trying to deal with practice in a tire test. Sometimes the way you muscle the car around a little bit more during a race as you are moving through traffic does affect the tire wear or tire heat sometimes we have seen that. Honestly, I feel pretty good about the job that these professional drivers deliver for us during a tire test.”

CBL: Why not have a NASCAR or Goodyear tire testing team. Why depend on the drivers?

Grant:” I am glad you brought that up – that is a good question. We have talked to NASCAR about that and they have talked to us about that but we’ve been down that road. We’ve been down that road with our own test team. We did that a number of years ago when we were involved in Indy Cars and Formula 1 we had our own test program. Here’s the problem with that – you cannot keep up technically with what is going on with the race car. If we had our own stock car and we had our own engine program – and so on there is no chance that we or NASCAR even with an in house program could possibly keep up technically with the advancements that the Hendrick Motorsports organization is going deliver or Childress or anybody for that matter. So we are better off saying to those guys hey Jeff Gordon bring your car and bring yourself and lets do this tire test at Darlington. We are way better off using those guys and they are very cooperative about helping us out. We haven’t had any problem getting these people to our tire test and the only issue for us is we just try to be fair to spread it around amongst drivers and teams and manufacturers”

CBL: Will you find what was wrong with this tire? Is it possible you will never know?

Grant: “I am confident we will find an answer. What that is I don’t know at the moment. We’ve got a lot of theories on what we need to do to fix that but I think we are going the right direction. We have got a lot of people working a lot of hours back in Akron Ohio right now trying to analyze this problem and determine a set of solutions. We’re going to go back -we’ve got two dates at Indianapolis already this fall. We’re going to go back twice and see if we can make some progress towards a solution. Because we do need to prove to ourselves that we do have the capability of making a tire that will last a fuel stop on the Car of Tomorrow at Indianapolis.”


That’s it for now. Digest that and enjoy the afternoon. I am headed to the hill. The practices have been canceled and the Nationwide race is about to start in Montreal. More later, everyone have a great afternoon.

Claire B
Pocono Raceway.

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Friday Blog- Pocono August 1, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Tracks, Trackside.
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Pennsyvania 500Image via WikipediaHey: A quick note from the media center at Pocono Raceway. I interviewed Dr. Joe Mattioli Chairman of the Board and CEO of Pocono Raceway yesterday on air and he was up on the wheel. One quote during the interview from him was a real standout…he talked about NASCAR getting criticized by it’s players:

Doc Matiolli on “Dialed In” with Claire B Lang on XMSN Channel 144:

“I started with Bill Senior 40 years ago and Bill Junior and now we’re with Jimmy and over all those years they (NASCAR) may have had egg on their face four or five or six times in different situations and it always pissed me off because I felt that they made so many milllionaires – all these drivers and car owners they run around with their million dollar coaches and their multi million dollar jet planes their boats and every time they (NASCAR) have egg on their face these guys come out and bitch about NASCAR. I don’t see them going to any other sanctioning body- they keep staying here but they like to bitch – and they should get on their knees every night and thank God for NASCAR.”

Doc Mattioli said he does not think that the Pocono race should be shortened and that 80% of the fans that his group polled said they do not want the race to be shortened.

Here’s some interesting data. Average length (Hours – Min – Seconds) for the last ten races at the following tracks.

Pocono: 3:56:03
Bristol: 3:11:08
Daytona: 3:08:20
Martinsville: 3:46:58
Lowe’s (October): 3:44:37
Texas: 3:38:28

NOTE: With Lowe’s this is only the last ten October races because it is 500 miles and the May race is 600.

It’s a busy day with some interesting conversation and I’m slamming in the garage preparing for today’s show. I’ll catch you later on “Dialed In” and with more on the Blog.

Have a great day.

Claire B
Pocono Raceway

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