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Welcome to Indianapolis Motor Speedway! July 22, 2009

Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season, Trackside.
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INDIANAPOLIS - MAY 23:  An Indianapolis Motor ...
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I’m one of the first to arrive for broadcast coverage of this weekends Brickyard race at IMS as I’ve been in the Midwest since Chicagoland. I’ll be on the air tonight on Sirius NASCAR Radio in the Safety Clean Suite in Gasoline Alley from 7-10 EST tonight (Wednesday, July 22). There’s something special about being on the air late at night before or after the races at tracks all across the country. It’s when the memories of past races circle around the track like the warm breeze and with every clang of a flag pole, or grounds keepers moving through the night working on the infield, even the stillness creates an aura of spectacular battles in year’s gone by. At some tracks, with a long-rich history the feeling of being at a track when the track is empty of fans and competitors and is often times dark except for the track lights is overwhelming. I can almost feel the races of years gone by come alive in the sounds of the wind at an empty track that awaits fans. It’s really something special each week.

Broadcast Schedule for “Dialed In” with Claire B Lang:

Wednesday, July 22
“Dialed In”- 7-10 EST from IMS

Thursday, July 23
“Dialed In” 7-10 EST from IMS

Friday, July 24
“Dialed In” 7-7:30 p.m. EST from IMS
Leading into the start of the AAA Insurance 200 Camping World Truck Series Race at O’Reilly Raceway Park

Saturday, July 25
“Dialed In” 3-6 p.m. EST from IMS

Sunday July 26
10-12 p.m. EST CBL in the booth for the SIRIUS NASCAR Radio Pre Race Show
CBL in Victory Lane post race for the SIRIUS NASCAR Radio Post Race Show
“Dialed In” after the Sirius NASCAR Radio Post Race Show until 10 p.m. EST

Indianapolis Motor Speedway
How Crucial Is This Weekend’s Race in NASCAR’s Big Picture?

As we head into this race weekend at Indianapolis motor speedway there’s a good question to ask the race fans. How important to you think this particular race in NASCAR’s big picture? NASCAR has always said that this sport is bigger than any one driver. Certainly history has proved that to be true over the years. That given, then the sport is much bigger than any one particular track. Some say that NASCAR can say that but they don’t believe it to be true. As always with NASCAR fans there are two sides to the issue depending on where you live, and what glasses you are seeing things through.

It would be safe to say that some bloggers and columnists are acting like the NASCAR world will fall apart if there are any issues at Indy this weekend because, well Indianapolis is sacred ground. I interview drivers all the time and in their minds, this track is special. But the question is not how special the track is — it’s – it’s how crucial is this race?

NASCAR did not have a huge Midwest presence before Indy. Before there was a Kansas or Chicago race … there was Indy. The Brickyard is unique and it’s not just like every race.

Stock cars racing at the home of open wheel racing gave NASCAR some form of legitimacy within open wheel ranks and the legions of casual race fans that understood the history of racing at Indy.

Jeff Gordon should know – he’s both a student of the sport, a team owner and has a rich history himself at Indianapolis.

Ask Gordon what the damage was, when last year’s race was ruined by tire issues….. whether the damage can be overcome and does NASCAR still need to be at that racetrack? Here’s how Gordon responds

Gordon on Indy repairing the issues from last year:

JEFF GORDON: Well, I mean, I’m certainly biased because, you know, as a kid growing up, I always dreamed about racing at Indy and thought those dreams had gone away when I was moving down south and starting my NASCAR career.

I love the fact that the Brickyard 400 happens every August or July. And it’s just a spectacular event.

I think it’s. I don’t know the financials and everything that go along with Indianapolis Motor Speedway. But, you know, to have two successful races there a year, I think, seems to make more sense than just one. But, you know, the history of the Indianapolis 500 has kept that place alive and doing so well for so many years that maybe it can sustain just one race. And I think that certainly had a lot to do with prestige and history of not only that event but as to the meaning of the Brickyard 400 when it came along.

Since then, you’ve had to Formula 1 race and now MotoGP. So there’s certainly decisions that go beyond my capabilities and depth, but I think it’s an important race. I think that you’re going to see us come out of what happened last year with the tires, you’re going to see a whole different type of race. And the issues with tires are not going to be from wearing them down to cords in eight or ten laps like last year. I’m very confident in the tires. I did the last test there and was very pleased.

So I think certainly a lot of damage was done. It might not take one race. It might take more than one race. I hope it happens and we get a chance for that to happen because the fans are supporting the event and, you know, knowing it could take more than one race to repair that. But I believe it can happen.

Q. Following up on that, Jeff, the reports are that ticket sales are pretty sluggish for Sunday. I’m sure some of that is due to the economic downturn, but I’m sure some of it is due to fans staying away because of last year’s race. I don’t think anybody would question that you guys and Goodyear have done a lot of work to try to fix the problem. Do you think the problem was remedied a little bit too late and it was only a month ago you guys declared it had been solved? Do you think there might be a little bit of lag time for fans to sort of react to realizing that, hey, this race may not be that bad and we should get tickets?

JEFF GORDON: I think some of that will build as we get closer to the race. We have seen a lot of that this year in general with the economy. I think, you know, a lot of fans are waiting it out for it could be a number of reasons. It could be their own finance issues that they’re dealing with, like so many others, basically everybody that’s dealing with something with the economy and holding off on that. It could be, you know, waiting for less expensive ticket prices and seeing if that happens later leading up to the race.

And I think, also, with Indianapolis, it’s a lot of it is what happened last year. So it might that’s why I say it might take a couple of races, at least one I’m hoping, to really kind of win back those fans that were very disappointed. And they should have been. I think we were all pretty disappointed in what happened there.

But we all had to come together to work it out, and I think Goodyear took the brunt of it. And it is not just all their responsibility. I mean, those tires were wearing out for a number of reasons and, yet, they took it and ran with it. And it took a long time, I think a lot longer to figure out what tire and what compound was going to work there.

But it took longer than I think they expected, all of us did, but they did get it. That’s what I’m happy about, is that they have found it.

Q. when Formula 1 had its tire debacle a few years ago, everybody sort of returned from that series very contrite. When they were at Indy next year, the drivers went out of their way to do autograph sessions. I know Michelin did a lot, too. Does NASCAR have a responsibility, drivers, series and sponsors as a whole, to maybe welcome Indy back into the fold this year and try to do more to reach out?

JEFF GORDON: Absolutely. Absolutely. I feel like, you know, we already have a series that’s built around that. We do so much for the fans, whether it be autograph sessions and different types of meets and greets at the track or away from the track during the week for our sponsors.

I mean, I don’t think any sport is more accessible than ours is. I think just this year in general the economy the way it is and really trying to show our appreciation for how much we do appreciate our fans and how loyal they are and avid they are and we are still getting great crowds.

Kyle Busch represents the younger drivers –and his thoughts on Indy include having watched Gordon master the rack:

Q: Do you remember when you first heard the words Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indy 500, Brickyard 400? Kyle Busch: “Probably the first time I knew of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, or the Indy 500, was back in the ’80s – probably ’89, maybe even 1990. Of course, the first time I knew of the Brickyard 400 was ’94, being a big Jeff Gordon fan and following him growing up in Las Vegas. When he came into the sport a few years earlier and won the Coca-Cola 600, and then carried that into the Brickyard 400, and then won that race right off the bat, that was quite an accomplishment, for sure.”
Is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway a difficult track to master? Do you personally like driving there? Kyle Busch: “It’s a very difficult track to master. I’m not even sure that I’ve done it. Just racing the races that I’ve run there, I’ve finished well a couple of times. I think I’ve had a seventh and a 10th, and a fourth. To me, it has been one of those racetracks that is very unforgiving. It’s narrow, tight, not a lot of passing goes on there. It’s tough to get your car set up perfectly there, so you have to do what you can to make it the best you can. All four corners being so different, remembering exactly how to drive all four of them, and just trying to be able to be able to qualify up front and to race up front is so important there.”
What is it about Indianapolis Motor Speedway that makes it unique compared to other tracks that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits? Kyle Busch: “It’s very tight down the straightaways. You roll through (turn) one and (turn) two, and there are people on the inside, there are people on the outside, there are people in the grass, just sitting along the back straightaway on the inside. You’ve got the golf course there, and fans sitting on the hills underneath the trees. You start back up into turn three, with the grandstands going around (turn) three and (turn) four, and then down the frontstretch and, again, there are two tunnels. There’s a tunnel at the (turns) one and two side, and on the (turns) three and four side. There’s a center road that runs all the way through, and then coming down the frontstretch again, looking on both sides of you, you’ve got the pit road, which is really narrow and really tight, and the grandstands on the inside and the outside, so you’re going down a V of just people – a sea of people. Coming to the Pagoda and the media center, the way it is, and of course the scoring pylon being as tall as it is, you come down there and, if you’re leading the race, sometimes you can’t see that high, so you’re kind of wondering who is second and third, or who is behind you. It stinks when you’re running in the back because you can see yourself right there.”

——————

So how important is Indianapolis and the Brickyard race to NASCAR? The Midwest is suffering the downturn in the economy as much as any part of the country. Attendance will be affected.

Do you really think that with all the testing at Indy that fans will stay away because of last year or do you think that they will go if they want to see stock cars at Indy the one time of year that stock car racing visits the prestigious IMS.

Isn’t it possible also that fans will go to the race, even after last year’s mess to see what unfolds…to find out whether there will be more drama? We’ll see walkups – and like every track attendance will depend on the weather.

I think that Indianapolis is a key race, that stock cars racing at Indy gave NASCAR a bump in prestige and that this is an important race. Drivers feel that this one is special – because they love racing where Indy Car racing laid down so much rich history.

But how important in the scheme of a 36 race schedule – when compared to tracks in other venues? Especially now that open wheel racing has had its challenges and is smaller than it used to be.

I say that in this economy every single race is important, extremely important competition is on the line here and must be presented at the level of a national sport – at every track, every race, every venue.

That’s a question for the fans to answer. The ones who buy the tickets.

And remember – I love Indianapolis Motor Speedway as much as anyone.

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On Wisconsin! July 15, 2009

Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season, Drivers, Sponsors.
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Shot by The Daredevil at Daytona during Speedw...
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The Chicagoland, Madison, Green Bay, Indy Tour!

I’m taking a few days off in Wisconsin – as my sister is getting married in Green Bay this coming weekend. There’s a flurry of activity here – but it won’t involve the radio. For the first time since I can remember I am not doing “Dialed In” and will be off Wed., Thurs, and Friday of this week.

I am headed to Indy early and staying in the Midwest since Chicago so I will return to “Dialed In” next Wednesday, LIVE from Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I always love covering the Brickyard – it’s something special so I’m looking forward to that. Right now though being spoiled by my mom and having meals made for me instead of coming home from a trip to an empty refrigerator. Can we ever get enough of our mom’s home cooking?

The weather is so beautiful here – and it’s great for the soul to be home after so much traveling. I’ll tell you all about the wedding when I return…it’s turned into a huge affair with family and friends I haven’t seen for years and I’m so lucky that out of the blue, not knowing the race schedule, my sister picked an off weekend for her wedding, which makes it easier for my schedule. (IE: No leaving the reception to check out the race on TV lol) My sister has invited some of my friends from high school and so I’ll get to see friends that I have not seen in forever. I’m looking forward to it.

Enjoy the weekend and I’ll catch you Wednesday 7-10 EST from Indy on the Midwestern tour!

Claire B

RACING NOTES:

Danica Patrick

I still think that Danica Patrick is not coming to NASCAR. We’ll see her show up here and there. It will rouse suspicion and plant seeds but in the end, I think she knows what it would take to move into NASCAR and it’s a gamble for her. Almost everyone who knows the sport says that it would require starting out in the Nationwide or Truck series for a while….and I just don’t see her doing this at this stage of her career after what she’s accomplished in open wheel. However, stranger things have happened and it’s weird economic times in both NASCAR and Indycar. She’s a smart cookie. She knows what it would take. I know she visited Stewart Haas racing for a tour, something that was NOT kept hush hush. If she was thinking about it seriously don’t you think that it would have been a closed door visit – kept secret? I think she’s in the mix and wants to be just that- it’s smart for her at this stage-but as far as actually moving into NASCAR. I do not see it. Unless she gets an offer that she can’t refuse.

I like Danica. I went to Chicago to interview her when she announced her “Go Daddy.com” Indycar sponsorship. She was really a lot of fun and I asked her all the tough questions, like was she really the ice princess that some said she was. She laughed and the interview was easy, as she answered everything I threw her way openly and fairly. She was actually very easy to hang out with. I met her mom and dad and husband and interviewed her folks as well. She’s really a pretty amazing woman. She knows what she wants and she is not afraid to go for it – for that she gets the reputation for being cold. I didn’t see her that way. I still don’t think she’s coming to NASCAR but whatever she chooses she’s talented and extremely marketable and whatever she decides to do she’ll be front and center.

Brad Keselowski Full Time Nationwide:

Brad K. would rather race and not spend his time worrying about where he’ll go next but he’s in a good position. I talked to him about his next move at Chicagoland.

CBL: Are you still working on next year? Everyone’s watching you

Keselowski: “Yea, You know I am working on it. Don’t have any answers on it – making progress. Things look good, they look very good for me to be back driving this #88 Nationwide car full time which is just as important to me as running the Cup series. So that’s all coming together nicely, not there but it’s coming together and I’m looking forward to it.

NAPA- A Sponsor’s View of Michael Waltrip, Martin Truex Junior and NASCAR Sponsorships:

I spoke with Bob Susor, who is the president of NAPA about their continued sponsorship at MWR

CBL: What pushed you over the top as far as sticking around?

Bob Susor: “Oh I think it’s just the overall good job that Michael has done for us. The fact that he had good, what appeared to be good technical support and have been able to recruit some high quality people.”

CBL: What about selecting Martin Truex Junior…how heavily did you recruit him? Did you interview him? What was the role NAPA played in selecting him?

Bob Susor: “Well we did interview him and wanted to make certain that he had a personality that fit our customer demographic and our internal organization as well. We think he’s kind of our kind of guy. We think we’ve got the opportunity to help him develop a personal brand maybe beyond where he’s gone to this point as well.”

CBL: What makes him your kind of guy?

Bob Susor: “Very low key. Just kind of a guy next door, son of a hard working entrepreneur and that’s pretty much our customer base.”

CBL: But Michael’s not that low key.
Bob Susor: “Well Michael’s Michael. You know there’s only one Michael and we like Michael because of how shameless he can be. (laughter). They are different personalities but we think having the combination of both….of course and obviously we think there’s the opportunity for improved performance as well.”

CBL: Did you look at video tape, study driving performance records etc?

Bob Susor: “We really didn’t look at video tape. We had seen him do interviews before because when we were with DEI previously we had been exposed to him so we had a little prior exposure to him. You know the fact that he’s stayed out of trouble off the track. That’s a big plus for us as well..”

CBL:And how to you see the landscape for sponsors?

Bob Susor: “Ahhh I understand it’s pretty tough out there. For our business, it’s an ideal demographic. It kind of matches up very nicely with what we do. So I’m not certain how others are viewing it but for us we think it’s still a good investment.”

—————

I hope everyone is enjoying the post July 4th summer fun! It won’t be long before we’ll be at Indy racing the Brickyard.

I’m excited to return for the weekend to Green Bay where I have not been for so long I think I will need a road map to find my way around.

Enjoy the day!

Claire B

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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.”

-O-

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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Post-Indy Emails…Goodyear Tires July 29, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Claire B's Mail, Controversy, Listeners, NASCAR.
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Ginn Racing executes a pitstop at the 2007 Day...Image via WikipediaHey: I wanted to share with you some of the emails that I have gotten regarding Sundays Sprint Cup Race at Indianapolis. The takes are all valid and interesting and they cover both sides of the issue. Some fans are angry, others understand and say move on. Some even say they liked the twists and turns of the circumstances that made the race a series of shoot outs. Everyone is clear in saying that this should not happen again because it does not reflect well on the sport. I thought I’d share some emails that I have gotten for your reading, and discussion pleasure. Thanks to all who wrote the emails – you guys are awesome and I appreciate every single one.

Claire B
_______________________________________

From Marc in AZ:

Claire,

The Indy Race was what it was. While NASCAR tried to do what was best for the race, they completely missed an opportunity to have a real race! They should have limited the teams to a single can of fuel per stop! Something like they have done in the past when they limited the fuel bladder size to conserve tire wear. Instead of thinking on their feet, they went the safe route and made the race into a bunch of heat races with extremely dangerous pit stop in between. They may have got the safety for the drivers correct but they missed it for the over the wall crews!

While everyone is falling all over themselves praising NASCAR for keeping the race safe, they totally missed having a competitive race! NASCAR fans want to see green flag pit stops, not planned pit competitions! We want to see a race and allow teams to have a bit of strategy. When Mark Martin stopped a lap before the planned yellow, they got smart and closed the pits one to two laps before the planned caution. Now there is a way to defeat strategy!

Hopefully this will never come to pass again but history has a tendency to repeat itself! Hopefully the next time we can see a race and NASCAR can find an alternate way to regulate time on track by restricting fuel and not go to planned cautions. Maybe we could even plan a test session before taking the racing brick to a track and allow all the competitors to participate!

Just my thoughts!
Marc Mills

Tempe, AZ.

_______________________________________

From Ronald:

2 consecutive off weekends for a Sprint cup race is torture. During Sundays event (wasn’t a race) I went on mowed my yard because I prefer to torture myself in 100 degree heat than watch a bunch of caution laps. 52 laps under caution is inexcusable.
_______________________________________
From Jerry in Indiana:

How many times has goodyear screwed up a race ? To many. Thay should not make the teams pay for those crapy tires. When you have to stop the race every 10 laps and replace a crappy tire with another crapy tire. There is no race left. Jerry. In.
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T
_______________________________________
From Kurt in LA

The racing was bad. JJ won because he had the best pit crew. Gordan came out 5th cause he had the 5[th best pit crew. During the race I looked forward to the pit stops. They were awsome! No matter how bad the race was, it was better than watching bowling or golf.

Kurt Cazayoux
Lafayette, LA
_______________________________________
From Travis in Kansas:

Damn I thought having a whole bunch of “heat races” in the form of the Brickyard 400 was extremely exciting.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. And goodyear doesn’t make money on race tires, they lose money on every set of tires used at the track according to Smokey Yunick’s autobiography.

Travis from Kansas
_______________________________________
From Bob in California:

Wow back to the Tony George of old “I’m not wrong, don’t blame the track” we cannot be held responsible for Nascar’s & Goodyear not testing.
Does he have stock in Firestone?
Bob from CA

_______________________________________
From Rick in AR:

This reminds me of the mess Indy had a few years back when F1 ran at Indy and 75% of the teams pulled off the track because of unsafe conditions on the track. If I recall, it had something to do with tires and one of the corners on the Indy road course.

Fans are the ones who suffer in the end. As tough as things are in NASCAR, fans should cast their vote with the pocketbook. That would get NASCAR’s attention.

Rick Aron
Rogers, AR
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From Parker:

I haven’t bought Goodyear tires since 1994 and yesterdays race confirmed my choice to use only Michellins. If I had paid to go to that race I would have left and been angry.
Parker
_______________________________________
From Marv:

Hey Clare,

If the scheduled cautions were really for safety, they should have required 4 new tires each stop and let them keep their place in the running order. That would have been much safer on pit road with the 35-36 cars and the mad scramble that ensued each time. There were lots of near misses involving crewmen on pit road. Teams could have still done the 2 tire/4 tire deal and hurried stops during the unscheduled cautions.

What do you think?

Marv Odell
_______________________________________

From Bob:

Mark makes a great point in regards to the pits closing. They should have put the race into the teams hands, had the competition cautions and not made it mandatory to stop on them.
As far as stopping and putting the Pocono tires on with no idea how those tires would have performed not sure that would have been a good idea. Maybe they should have tried those tires (Pocono) the day before, because they knew they already had the problem.
Bob from CA

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From JS in ND:

This was not a race. It was awful. The cars at the back of the pack
never had much of a chance to move up and stay ahead. The
commentators have been talking about how Jimmie Johnson had the best
car, fastest in practice and on the pole, that he would probably have
won anyway. He could take four tires each time and get back to the
front, whereas those drivers who were trying to gain track position
had to take two tires and couldn’t keep up with the four tires. He
had the first pit stop which helped him tremendously, along with the
cautions, which also was to his advantage. I agree with the drivers
who said they were embarrassed at how this turned out. I am thankful
that I did not pay to sit in the stands and watch this debacle. They
owe all those fans tickets to next year’s race. Throw out the
results to this race and give the fans a “do over”!!

I can’t believe that Nascar didn’t try the Pocono tires. I would
rather have seen that instead of what we saw yesterday.

JS from ND
_______________________________________

From Clifford in Texas:

Claire B –

Last week on your show someone, I believe it was crew chief Kevin Hamlin, made the statement that the NASCAR races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are more competitive, and better races than recent Indianapolis 500s. HAH!

Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star called yesterday’s Allstate 400 at the Brickyard “the Lamest Spectacle” in racing and I totally agree!

Kravitz also said: “This was the Tire de Farce. A fiasco. A joke. An embarassment for NASCAR and for Goodyear. Unfair to the fans, who paid good money to attend the Competition Yellow 400. And unsafe for the drivers who were screaming around the track on rubberized time bombs that couldn’t last beyond 10 laps.”

Please advise Mr. Hamlin (and any others as appropriate) to direct their apologies to:

Mr. Brian Barnhart
President, Competition and Operations
Indy Racing League
4565 W. 16th St.
Indianapolis, IN 46222

I think one is certainly in order!

Thanks,
Clifford D. Wuertz
Houston, TX
_______________________________________

From Bob in MD:

I am an HMS fan I am glad JJ won.

I am not blaming Goodyear, the blame lays squarely on NASCAR. This is yet another example why the COT needs to go away.

If you are going to have a manditory caution the field should be frozen with no change of position as a result of the caution.

NASCAR needs to pentlize themselves.

Bob in MD
_______________________________________
From Shiela:

Give the Brickyard date to another track. Don’t go back, problem solved.

Sheila Matthews, CPhT

_______________________________________

From Joe in California:
CBL,
I watched the race on TV. I am a fan of Newman. It was a race, it is not a diminished win for JJ. He earned it, the other 42 drivers dealt with the same conditions. It was just inexcusable on NASCAR and Goodyear’s part. It would have been stupid to go to the unknown Pocono tires.

Joe – Arroyo Grande, CA
_______________________________________
From C Greensos:

Claire B,

The only good thing about the race is that the guy who won deserved the win. He was the pole sitter and was fast in traffic and Chad is his crew chief. He deserved it.

A 17 fan.
_______________________________________
From Leslie in GA:

hi claire,
Íwas there yesterday as well as the atl race in the spring both had tire problems and it was handled better at indy than atl. However it was not what I paid for …. But it is still Indy and it is still way cool to go there every year, and we will renew for next year. OK we had many yellow flags but we did see cars going around vs no cars and rain!! It happen, let’s fix it and move on

leslie back home in atl
_______________________________________
From Mark:

I hold ALL fault with Goodyear. They knew at the test, as Jr. said, that the tires would not last more than 5 laps. If I were Goodyear and knew it was that bad, I would:

a) go back to the drawing board and re-design the tire and then

b) schedule another test with a newly designed tire.

At the very least, bring a few sets of every tire they make and see if any hold up better than the others…

It appears as though they knew of the problem and figured it would all work itself out come race day. Absolutely pitiful.

Maybe it is time to revisit multiple manufacturers. We all know that the teams only get better because they have to face each other week in and week out. If Goodyear knew they had to face real competition week in and week out, maybe they would do a little more homework.

_______________________________________
From Dan in Green Bay:
Of course the angriest people are the ones who were at the race. The rest of us were able to walk away from the TV without feeling the pain of having spent money to see it. With cautions being dictated through the entire race it took out the aspect of team strategy. They shld have put it in the teams’ hands at the half-way point. *Dan from Green Bay

_______________________________________
From Butch:
At least the 18 did not win the Allstate pitstop 400, did the Pace car lead
the most laps? I kept waiting for the pace car to take tires.
Send that 48 & 24 around
_______________________________________
From Joyce in Arkansas:

Hey Claire B.,

Finally home after what seems like forever, so glad to be able to tune into Dialed In again!! I am so glad I did not buy tickets to the Brickyard 400, as much as I love the local short track heat races it is not what I expect from the top series of NASCAR. Even though NASCAR did what they felt best in the name of safety from the testing and practices they should of seen this coming and stepped in and done something about it. I know this is not their first rodeo, they should act like it.

Joyce Bell
Newport, Arkansas
_______________________________________
From Jimmy:

NEWS FLASH… GOODYEAR IS GUILTY OF VIOLATING NASCAR RULE # 12-4-A, ACTIONS DETRIMENTAL TO STOCK CAR RACING… THEY ARE HEREBY FINED 12 MILLION DOLLARS, 5000 OWNER POINTS, AND SUSPENDED INDEFINITELY… MR. NEWTON OF THAT INDIANA TIRE CO. THAT MAKES DIRT TIRES THAT WORK WELL WILL SUPPLY TIRES NOW… CAN WE SAY “HOOSIER DADDY”?

Jimmy Grant
_______________________________________
From Sandy in GA:

Claire,

I am sooooo Thankful that no one got hurt in yesterdays race.

I am sorry for the fans that traveled to the race and spent so much to attend it. I hope they found something positive about their experience in attending a NASCAR race. Each one is different. Surely, this was one of those.

Sandy in GA
_______________________________________
From Sue in Ill:

Dear Claire;

I look forward to the Indy race, but Sunday’s race was a disaster. And there is certainly plenty of blame to go around, but it is pointless to cry over spilled milk. I think that NASCAR was between a rock and a hard place yesterday and their decision to throw all the competition cautions was the best solution to a very bad situation. It prevented a cancellation or half the field in the garage with torn up cars. Still there needs to be a re-evaluation of tire tests and the compounds used. In my opinion Goodyear needs to have more teams at each of the tire test to get more information and more opinions on the tires. But I will go further I think NASCAR needs to have their own test teams at tire tests to give their opinion on compounds. But NASCAR needs to do more work on the engineering and physics of this new car, because of the heavy loads on the right side of the cars there are tire issues at every track, work needs to be done on the cars. In hind site it may not have been such a good idea to implement the COT at all the tracks this year, but that is a decision that can not be changed so work with it. NASCAR R&D needs to go back to the Windtunnel and the track and work with all the teams to find changes that can be made to help the teams and Goodyear to make the tires safe and competitive.

Now as for the race itself, the best car won the race, Jimmie Johnson and the 48 team were outstanding all weekend and they were smart and the got to kiss the bricks. And the tire strategy of both the 48 and 24 was absolutely the right choice; take 4 every time till the final stop. Both of those cars could pass at will and their crews deserve much of the praise for their excellent days. I am very happy with how my driver Jeff Gordon performed all day, he was good all day and I think they have turned the corner with their program and will be a contender for the rest of the season just like the 48 team. And Carl Edwards was also excellent all day even after having their tire issue, they battled back and finished strong. Frankly all the drivers who finished in the top 10 had excellent days, none of them were able to get into a rhythm but they all ran brilliantly all day. Now there were some drivers who just didn’t do so well, first Mark Martin didn’t seem to be a factor all day, it is never a good idea to say you are going to win publicly because you are bound to get bitten. And I was very surprised by how poorly Tony Stewart’s car ran, I expected a solid day and he just was off all day, as was Kyle Busch, though I was less surprised by his performance. And finally Matt Kenseth, I couldn’t believe that when he said the tire was going that he waited to pit, if he had been smart like Dale Jr. he may have ended up with a torn up car. Knowing what he did it was reckless to wait till a caution, he hurt his chase chances. And I thought Kurt Busch was a stand up guy, he said he made a mistake and accepted the blame, that is how a sportsman behaves.

Thank You,
Sue from Shorewood, IL

_______________________________________

From Snowfalls:

Hey Claire,

The race wasn’t the best as we all know, but Nascar had to make it safe. If they Nascar didn’t do the competion yellows, you would have had drivers crashing all over the place.

I listened to Dale Jr on the radio and watch the hotpass coverage and it didn’t matter what driver it was they were just blowing through so many tires after seven laps because the tire was showing cords. There was just no grip on the track. In ten laps Dale could pass eight ten cars in that run. What you saw was short track racing. But I saw that with a lot of Drivers

Over all it wasn’t a total mess. Nascar just made it safe under the circumstances for what they had.

Oh by the way, did you notice that at one point you had three Hendrick cars up front?
_______________________________________

From Annie in Iowa:

Hey Claire B!

My husband looked over at me at the second competition yellow yesterday while we were watching the race on TV and said, “I can hear Claire B.’s phone ringing already!”

While I understand that everyone did the best they could with the situation at hand yesterday at Indy, I cannot understand how NASCAR let that situation come to be? How can you not require testing a tire on a car that’s never run at a race track? Yesterday was a mockery of all that’s held holy by fans at any racetrack. NASCAR should be ashamed. Ashamed!!!

Annie in Iowa
_______________________________________
From Ratnrace:

Jeff Gordon 101 – Was that a race I watched yesterday or a 43 car tire test?! A caution every 12 laps to check tire wear?! I could’ve sworn that NASCAR does tire tests during the off season – as well as – all throughout the regular season?! Did you see the wear on those tires?! Did somebody at Goodyear get the shipping papers mixed up and send the wrong tires?! I have never seen anything so ridiculous as yesterday in all my years of watching NASCAR!!! I am glad that I didn’t spend money on transportation costs getting to Indiana, spend money on lodging, spend money on tickets to the Brickyard 400, etc. because I would be so damn livid today if I had indeed spent money on that circus show that NASCAR put on yesterday!!! That was absolutely ridiculous!!! I would love to give you some more from the soapbox, but I really am speechless!!! The good thing from yesterday – Gordon had a strong car, led a few laps, crossed the checkered in 5th, and remained 6th in points…other than that – that race (tire test) was an absolute joke!!!

Please send the 24 car around 20 more times to get us to 101 wins!!!
_______________________________________

From Ruth in Cincinnati:

CBL,

Wow, am I glad I didn’t lay out any money for a ticket for that “RACE”? I was at qualifying and practice on Saturday and believe me I think it was more fun and much better then the actual event on Sunday. Where’s Tony when you need him…how come he hasn’t said anything about that travesty that happened on Sunday? Goodyear and Nascar should refund at least ½ of the ticket price for all of those that attended that disaster. Don’t be surprised if next year the tickets aren’t ½ price, if you only see ½ a race you shouldn’t have to pay full price.

Send that #20 around.

Ruth in Cincinnati
_______________________________________
From Rich in GA:

I have two questions for you that maybe you could ask, one is for NASCAR and one is for a crew chief.

Once NASCAR Realized that they were going to continue to do competition cautions yesterday, why didn’t they try to set the race up to maybe have a 12 or 13 lap shoot instead of the 7 lap one they had, cause they knew the tires would hold up about that long.

Why didn’t one of the teams that were 15 to 20 try to gamble and pit with like 15 laps to go right before NASCAR closed pit road and before the last competition caution. If I was a crew chief I would have tried it!!! Cause you know you could run about 12 laps and I would have tried to get a top five out of it if not the win!!! Did no one think of that?

thanks
Rich
Peachtree City, Georgia
_______________________________________
From Eric:

Allstate at the Brickyard tickets $170.00

Air Fare to Indianapolis $950.00

Hotel $800.00

Rental Car $320.00

Misc Expenses $900.00

Telling Gooodyear Racing and NASCAR to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine Priceless!!!
_______________________________________
Hi Claire B.

We awakened this morning still angry from the debacle we witnessed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway yesterday. It was our 15th Brickyard and is amongst 6/8 Cup Races we attend each year. The attendance yesterday estimated at 225,000 (the highest attended Cup Race this year) was still a disappointment as the usual crowd would approach 300,000 or more. When we arrived at the track we were shocked to see the large amount of empty seats when the race began. Obviously, the gas prices and economy kept people away from the famed Brickyard. Still, 225,000 stedfast fans were loyal and ready to see a great race at one of the premiere Sprint Cup races in the series. We spent our money knowing that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and it’s staff were prepared, as in years past, to put on a great show and make sure the fans got their moneys worth. The Speedway did everything in it’s power to insure this would happen. The Race be gan after an amazing Pre Race program, rivaled only by the Indianapolis 500 and possibly the Daytona 500. Soon, it became evident that Goodyear Racing and possibly NASCAR had totally dropped the ball. Why on earth would NASCAR and Goodyear not test at the track where the COT had not raced before is beyond any imaginable reason. We and the other 224,998 fans were treated to, without a doubt, what was one of the worst races in NASCAR history. Shame on your Goodyear and shame on you NASCAR for allowing something like this to happen to your fans and IMS. We deserve much better. I feel sorry for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway who surely will be the one to suffer from something totally beyond their control. We love NASCAR and we particularly love the Brickyard because of the pageantry and history of the track. With that said, we, in all likelihood, will not attend the event again. I predict that what happened yesterday will cost the Bri ckyard another 25,000/50,000 attendees next year. Our feelings at this point are that Goodyear and NASCAR should refund the cost of tickets and expenses of getting to the race to all fans in attendance. What infuriated us further this morning is what we read in the Indianapolis Star, that neither Goodyear or NASCAR is accepting blame for what happened yesterday. Such an occurrence can only be rivaled by the cancellation of the CART Race at Texas Motor Speedway several years ago on race day and the F-1 Michelin debacle at the U.S. Grand Prix a few years back. Shame on you, shame on you Goodyear and NASCAR. If this isn’t a call for Hoosier Tire Company to re-enter NASCAR, I do not know what is. Maybe a bit of competition for Goodyear will be the medicine needed for them to get their act together. There is no reason and no excuse for something like this to occur—-EVER!!! We the fans, the Sprint Cup teams and Indianapolis Motor Speedway were the big losers and we deserve much better.

We truly want to remain Loyal NASCAR fans but if we ever attend a race were something like this happens again it will be Good Bye NASCAR, Hello IRL. That also,was the sentiment of most of the fans in our stands yesterday.

Eric in Tucson (still in Indy)
_______________________________________
From Coe in Alabama:

Clare:

On my lunch hour so keeping it short.

Indy was a farce. I listened to the race on the radio (over broadcast radio not the ‘dog’) coming back from Louisiana and time with the grandsons and the race was pathetic. I will grant that no one was injured, but no one was lapped on the track, either.

NASCAR issuing a warning that 12 laps was all the tires could take and warning that they would be black flagged at 15 laps would have been better.

The pit stops should have been under GREEN. Those that could get a couple more laps would be evident after the first two stops. It was a farce.

If ever Tony should have blown up at Goodyear, yesterday was the day. HOWEVER; I am betting that in the divers’ session and even earlier in the post-practice debriefings by officialdom it was made D*** clear that the teams, drivers, and owners better not be disparaging or they would ‘pay’.

Kyle Bush: Time to start a rumor.
If I were Home Depot, I would be very very upset at the Lowes Chevy consistantly finishing better than the Home Depot Chevy/Toyota over the last two and a half seasons. Soooo…. you need to put the bug in JD’s ear that this is what they need to do:

Zippy and crew should swap crews with the 18.

Joey Lagono would take over the ride with Zipedelli on the 18 team.
Kyle Busch and the entire crew on the 18 would take over the #20 Home Depot! If JD will offer that to Home Depot, JGR might be able to keep the Home Depot sponsorship, IF Home Depot is not set against staying with Toyota.

BTW: A die hard 24 fan is now so disgusted with NASCAR that he does not even DVR the races!!!! He has gone back to following open wheel!

Coe in Alabama.
_______________________________________

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BLOG breaking news MAJOR TIRE NEWS CONF TODAY – TIRE ISSUES TRANSCRIBE July 27, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, NASCAR, Trackside.
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2007 Allstate 400 at the BrickyardImage via WikipediaIndianapolis Motor Speedway
Race Day- Allstate 400 at The Brickyard

Claire B Lang – July 27, 2008 1:00 p.m.

Hey: Just about to head to the grid for the start of the race. I wanted to transcribe part of the news conference this morning regarding the tire issue so that you could read it. I finished most of it and am posting it now before running back into the garage and then to the grid.

The News Conference began at 10:00 a.m. EST this morning and was called this morning:

NASCAR Spokesman Jim Hunter: All of you probably know why we are here. The track improved between practices yesterday which is a good sign and once the field takes the track today – we think the track will get back to normal conditions. We’ll have a competition caution at lap 10 and we will evaluate and announce additional cautions if needed. As a contingency we have Pocono tires on hand. Goodyear is mounting back-up tires in an impound area. At 12 noon the teams will have access to the tires in an impound area. That’s only to prep them and everybody gets the same opportunity to prep them at the same time. The back up tires will remain in the impound area in the unlikely event we need them. Then all teams will be required to switch over at the same time. So at this time we are going to take questions. I think everyone knows the folks up here – Greg Stucker is Director of race tire sales for good year, Robin Pemberton is our VP of competition and Joey Chitwood is VP and General Manager…

Chitwood: ” President”

Hunter: “President…damn,”

Pemberton:” Let’s see how the day goes..”

(Loud laughter from the media audience)

Chitwood: “So I’m glad you could all join me for the F1 race today (laughter) I’m sorry 🙂

(More loud laughter)

Q: What’s the likelihood and I assume you are considering mandated intermittent cautions?

Pemberton: “This track surface and the tires – this is not anything that we don’t go through leading up to the race and for the most part early in the event. Jim stated that we’ll have a competition yellow at 10. We will evaluate how the tire wear comes. We’ll make a call on if it’s ten more laps or 15 or however we grow the green flag laps and we’ll make a call from there and see what we’ll have to do. It looks like it will be multiple competition cautions – at least two right now.

Q: What is the criteria used as to whether you get to the point of switching over to Pocono tires? Will it be NASCAR getting word from the teams that they have gone through most of their Indy tire supply?

Pemberton: Exactly. We’re going to monitor that. The teams will have the opportunity for about ten sets when it all unfolds. We know that a number of teams yesterday didn’t run all their tires so that inventory has gone into their race sets so there are many teams that are out there with 12 sets of tires without getting another set. We’re going to monitor the wear and the laps that we can run and early on we’ll be able to make a call as to how far we will be able to go with the Indy tires. If the wear characteristics do not improve enough…ahm once again it’s not unlike everything we deal with at this particular place getting the track rubbered in so like I said we started with about 5 or 6 laps in the first practice , got to about 10 yesterday in the second practice so we anticipate that it will fix itself and we’ll make that call early on – we’re going to have a good plan.

Q: If the field is going to be switched to Pocono tires will you simply red flag the race and bring everybody in at the same time – and make them switch then – how will the mechanics of that work?

Pemberton: “If it gets to that point. It will be a caution and the teams will already have had their tires up in their pit area. It will be similar to if we had rain tires or dry tires. We will make a call..all the current Indy tires will come out of the pit area and we will issue the Pocono tires and everyone will be on the same tires at the same time.

Q: You guys have mentioned before and we’ve heard talk in the garage about how this is not an unusual situation for this track how we’ve been through it before. But if we’ve been through it before and if you guys came in and had a tire test then why are we sitting here having this press conference.

Pemberton: “We have been through this before but one of the things that has changed is that we have a new car. And as everybody understands the car loads right side tires different than what we’ve run over the last 15 or 20 years. We had a chance to tire test here and when you come to tire test and you only have two three or four cars – it’s difficult to rubber in the race track. Obviously you’ve seen it with 43 cars out there yesterday -it’s still difficult to rubber in but it does happen. So this being the first event on this car and I think the way the tires have extra load on them – we have had tire improvements the cars do handle good and I think they are doing a great job with it and next year under different circumstances and test policies we will probably see some improvement early on.

Stucker: “Just to reiterate, I mean we have seen an improvement. If you look at history last year the actual number of tires that people used was well within what they have available to them now so being we run a very similar tire and using the same right side compound we expect that same thing to happen so we’ll be fine once we get into the race.

Drivers Meeting:

The drivers meeting was relatively quiet. The above (tire issue) was mentioned.

Pit Road Speed: 55 mph
Caution Car Speed: 70 mph
Pit Road Speed Begins: 180 feet before the first pit box
Pit Road Speed Ends: 150 feet past the last pit box
Minimum Speed: 56.16 seconds

I’ll be back with more later. I wanted to get this posted ASAP.

Claire B

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A little more..too got not to share July 26, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers, NASCAR.
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Allstate 400 at The BrickyardImage via WikipediaMcMurray Claims He’s Solid
Claire B Lang – Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Saturday, July 26, 2008

Jamie McMurray was 7th fastest in the NSCS Practice 3 here at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and will start 8th in Sundays Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. After Qualifying on Saturday I asked him about Jack Roush leaving his name off when listing his drivers that nobody could take from him on Friday – and other reporters joined in.

CBL: YESTERDAY JACK (ROUSH) LEFT YOUR NAME OFF A LIST OF DRIVERS THAT NOBODY COULD TAKE AWAY FROM HIM. ARE YOU THE ODD MAN OUT WHEN THEY GO TO FOUR CARS? McMurray: “I don’t know. They haven’t discussed that with me and I don’t think that’s really even been discussed. I can’t control what Jack says and sometimes Jack will go off a little bit and it maybe gets out of control, but it’s not that big of a deal. It’s been a tough season for sure and this is a performance-based business and the 26 team, if you look at the results, hasn’t been as good as the other four teams, so Jack is just kind of stating the obvious. We’ve got to get our performance better. It’s not where I want to be, the team or Roush Fenway or Crown or Irwin, whoever – we’ve got to get better. The good thing about our team is that our cars have been really fast, and I think the hardest part in this sport is to have fast cars week-in and week-out, and when happy hour has been over every week we’ve had good cars. At Sonoma, running second with a few laps to go and we got run into, and cut a tire down at Chicago. I can give you a long list of things that if it would have been just a little different, we would have had some really good finishes. So I’m optimistic with all that, so we’ll just have to move on.”

DO YOU THINK JACK WAS TRYING TO SEND A MESSAGE? McMurray: “You’re asking me to speculate and I’m not into speculating.”

ARE YOU CONFIDENT YOU’LL BE BACK AT ROUSH? McMurray: “I tell you what, if you guys want to print the truth, the truth is I’ll be there with Crown Royal. There’s not a question. It’s 100 percent. I know there’s been some reporters that have speculated again on where I’ll be and who the sponsors will be, and certainly everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I wish that for all of the media that they would just base it on facts. If they’re gonna say they have a source, then they should reveal that source, but, 100 percent, I will be here with Crown and with Irwin and at Roush Fenway.”

CBL: WHAT ABOUT THE RUMORS OF YOU AND THE FOURTH CAR AT CHILDRESS? McMurray: “There’s no truth to that. Richard is looking for a driver and I’m somewhat flattered to have my name on a list that another owner would want you, but I will be in this car and not at Richard Childress Racing.”

McMurray continues to insist that he’s secure – even saying he’s 100% sure he is coming back next year. Jack was clear that the performance of McMurray has not delivered – but stopped short of saying that the team would be dropped or that :McMurray would be gone.

Jack Roush: “Jamie is important to me but today you know Jamie is not the driver that has been productive to the extent the other four are. I certainly expected and expect great things from Jamie but the productivity has not been there at this point.

Reporter: If you have to go down to four teams is that the team that could be going somewhere else?

Jack Roush: “It really has more to do with the sponsorship relationship than the driver but one of the reasons that I fostered the relationship I’ve got with Max and with Doug (Yates) is to be able to have a place to put a sponsor. We do help them sell their sponsorships – we do help them with their marketing programs – we do all the engineering- we do build all their cars so it’s a closely affiliated relationship that maintains the covenant , the barriers that NASCAR wants to put up for competitive considerations but it has not been determined that the 26 program or the Crown Royal will go. I’ve got two more years, I’ve got the rest of 2008 and 2009 to sort that out.

This story is one that continues to be discussed by media here in the deadline room. Watch McMurray’s team bust off a solid performance this weekend in the Allstate 400.

I’ll keep you posted on what is happening here.

Claire B

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SATURDAY INDY BLOG July 26, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Drivers, NASCAR.
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Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Two drivers have ...Image via WikipediaClaire B.log – Indianapolis Motor Speedway
July 26, 2008

It’s been too long since I’ve written and I’m sorry I’ve been on the run. I’ve been on the road trip of a lifetime back to the midwest broadcasting from Chicago to Wisconsin, seeing family, and then off to Indy.

Friday at Indy was insane – there were so many interesting stories developing. Tony Stewart’s news conference across the street from the track kicked off the day and the action didn’t stop for a second until air time. Between Rusty saying that Ryan Newman was fired by Roger Penske to Ryan denying it strongly to Jack Roush omitting Jamie McMurray’s name when mentioning the drivers who were secure with him – well it was a wild day.

I’m here in the media center now overlooking the track and I’m about to head down to pit road for qualifying – I will have more for you when that gets done but I wanted to write a few things before I headed down to the grid.

Everyone’s talking about what Mark Martin said about racing here. Was it a guarantee of a win here at Indy this weekend or just confidence. Here’s the Mark Martin quote:

“I’m planning on winning the Brickyard in the 8 car. We’ve got the stuff, we’ve got the team, the cars are awesome on the flat tracks – Phoenix and Richmond and I have never planned on anything any more than my plan is for the Brickyard. That’s the crown jewel and if you look at how that car ran at Phoenix – I believe that we can adapt that set up to work there and make that — ah the team is strong enough on pit road and Tony Gibson and those guys who work on that car are due a win. You know they got several disappointments last year when they had great race cars and had failures and what have you. Nothing would make me happier than to see their face in victory lane.”

Anyone who knows Mark Martin knows that is quite the statement. But later – yesterday when asked about his statement (above) – Mark Martin said this:

MARK MARTIN: I’m not sure I said exactly what you guys take and run with. I’m not sure I did a Mohammed Ali. You know, I do feel very confident that we’ll have a car here that will be strong enough to be a contender to win this race. I might say that every week – maybe. But, you know, believing it deep down inside I usually know that’s a bigger challenge than it might be here this week.

I believe that you can run the same stuff here that you can run at Phoenix. And I believe that we had the fastest car on the racetrack at Phoenix. It’s that simple.

My translation is that while Mark is confident – his first statement earlier was not a guarantee of a win – which some of the headlines read his statement as saying. It was just confidence in his team and his car and a strong desire to turn that into a win.

Kevin Harvick had a few interesting comments yesterday. I laughed loud when he answered a reporter asking him about the excitement of racing here at Indy. LOL:

Reporter: DO YOU AGREE WITH ALL THAT HAS BEEN WRITTEN AND SAID ABOUT THE RACING NOT BEING AS EXCITING AS IN THE PAST WITH THIS NEW CAR AND WON’T ALLOW FOR ANY SIDE-BY-SIDE RACING HERE AT IMS? Kevin Harvick: “That is why I don’t read anything you guys write or talk about. (LAUGHS) I try not to pay attention to people who don’t necessarily understand how our sport works. I think the races have been as good as races as we have had in a long time at Daytona, Chicago. I think in the garage, everybody is getting a better handle on the car. I don’t there has ever been any side-by-side racing here. The opinions come from a lot of people who really don’t understand the sport. Unfortunately, some of our amateur fans that haven’t attended a lot of races, have to the read that stuff and get kind of a false opinion of what they should expect when they come to this particular race track. This track promotes single-file racing, not necessarily this car. You can take an Indy car, you can take a stock car and you are not going to run side-by-side. If you want to blame something for single file racing, I would blame it on the track and not the car

And KH’s answer on a question about the engine modifications in the Nationwide series:

Reporter: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE ENGINE RULE CHANGE MADE IN NATIONWIDE SERIES? Kevin Harvick: “When is the Truck Series rule coming? (LAUGHS) If you look at most of the engine stuff that they have from all the other types of race tracks, I think, it is pretty evident that the No. 18 was on the chip and doing a lot of things after the race that probably affected those chassis dyno numbers and the No. 20 car went high right off the bat so I think they did the right

Clint Boyer had an interesting note as well – his about how they have been running about him being in the rumor mill and his being discovered by Richard Childress:

Reporter: EVERYBODY KNOWS ABOUT HOW YOU GOT YOUR BIG BREAK IN THIS SPORT, RC (RICHARD CHILDRESS) WATCHING THE ARCA RACE AND EVERYTHING. GIVING THERE’S NO SCOUTING, NOTHING LIKE WE SEE IN THE NFL, HOW MUCH OF MAKING IT IS TIMING AND LUCK AND JUST BEING IN THE RIGHT PLACE? Clint Bowyer: “It is a lot timing and luck. You only get one shot at it unfortunately. I’ve seen a lot of guys get an opportunity that I thought they’re going to set the world on fire and for whatever reason didn’t rise to the occasion and racing late models or dirt cars whatever their background was they were the heat. Then it got to that opportunity to where maybe it wasn’t the right opportunity. Things went wrong. It’s seems like if you’re not running good in those first couple of races you’re pushed by the wayside pretty quick. It’s unfortunate. Sometimes guys come in so far behind in experience they don’t even get a chance to showcase their talent. Unfortunate but it is a very competitive, very close form of racing in any sport. It’s hard to get inside and then we get so much experience, so much seat time inside the car with testing, practice, racing Nationwide, racing cup you’re just in the car so much a new kid that grew up racing late models, it’s hard for him to catch up to that.”

YOU ARE 13TH RIGHT NOW, BAD LUCK IT SEEMS, ARE YOU HURTING REALLY?
Clint Boyer: “We’re not running well. We took a step backwards. We really did. We started out this season with seven straight top-10’s, more than anybody at the time. We won at Richmond and then the bottom fell out. The short tracks have been well for us. We’re running good. It’s the 1.5-mile tracks that have really, really been the dagger right now and we’re trying to figure it out. We’re working harder than we ever have testing. We don’t have the answer right now. It doesn’t fall in your lap. It’s due to hard work, what got us here and the hard work is going to get us out of this slump. It’s definitely crunch time, we’ve got to get going. Top-10’s are what will put you there, but we need to start running in the top five and contending for wins. At the beginning of the season I was happy with the way that my team was running. We’ve answered the call and been doing the things that we need to do to get things turned around.”

THE 07 HAS BEEN IN THE MEDIA RUMOR MILL FOR MONTHS, DOES THAT CAUSE A DISTRACTION FOR YOUR TEAM? Clint Boyer“Richard and I were talking about that. It doesn’t help anything. When everybody’s wondering is the driver going to be there and whatever else and we got that taken care of. I think it can hurt you a little bit but that doesn’t make the car handle better. Still things have got to work, the car has to handle and you got to do your job inside the race car. It’s not like I’m a distraction, I forgot how to drive. It’s an unfortunate deal that we all have to go through. It’s uncomfortable. Nobody likes going through that especially the people that have given you everything, given you the life and everything else. They are uncomfortable times and things I don’t like to go through. Thank God you only have to do it every three years or so. I really enjoy this sport. I enjoy the challenge. It doesn’t matter what kind of racing it is at what level there’s always challenges. The challenge has presented itself, now we’ve got to answer the call.”

I I didn’t have time to tell you much about the Aflac news conference regarding sponsorship of Carl Edwards. Aflac will be the primary sponsor for his car and Aflac will sell the primary spot out for a number of the races but will still have presence on the car.

In the question and answer session – Carl enjoyed cutting up about driving with a Duck on his car – and Edwards answered a question about making the Aflac commercial:

“I can’t tell all the secrets to it but it’s amazing how they make the duck do all that stuff. It’s hard to get a duck to talk and to scream and to look at Jamie when we go by him in the car. You know the driving part is tough for him cause he doesn’t have thumbs and that’s kind of the thing that helps…… It really was pretty neat. We had a really good time.”

In the move “Stroker Ace” the driver was sponsored by a chicken company and had to wear a chicken suit. A reporter asked if Edwards would ever be seen in a commercial wearing a duck suit. Here’s what Carl said:

“That was Clyde Torkle’s Chicken Pit and Aflac’s been much better than he has been. We actually talked about that last night. There’s a lot of potential for that Carl in a duck suit commercial but I don’t know don’t give him any ideas. That was a pretty fun part of that movie yea!”

Carl helped design the look of his new Aflac race car….something that was new for him and he was asked about what that experience was like:

“We just talked about it. The way it usually works is they say -hey here’s our paint scheme here’s what we’re thinking about doing. Everybody looked at it – everybody from Bob (Osborne) to the crew guys to Randy (Pr person) to my assistant Angela. Everybody just looked at it and said hey here’s what we think and then we got with Paul and all the guys and everybody just said hey we want it to have this color this aspect and then they came up with a bunch of designs and it kind of became a pretty cool process but it wasn’t a plan where we set out like hey said hey here’s how we’re going to figure it out. Everybody just kind of tried different things.”

That is it for now. I’ll be back with you but am headed to Gasoline Ally and see what I can find out down there. Then, to the grid for qualifying.

Hope all is well were you are at.

Enjoy the morning!

Claire B
XM Satellite Radio

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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