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PHOENIX RACEDAY – CBL “POST-Card”: 4/12/08 April 14, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season.
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Hey all! It’s so darn beautiful in Phoenix today – it could be like the perfect day for a race. Wish you could all be here.

On my way in on Avondale Blvd. yesterday while making a quick stop at Starbucks I ran into Matt Kenseth doing the same. Well – given that Carl Edwards actual “ran into” the motor coach of Elliott Sadler with his vehicle perhaps I shouldn’t quite phrase it that way. I did not actually “run into” Matt Kenseth.

Seemingly just about every team in the sport is staying in the same area as I am this weekend. There was a healthy discussion about the Nationwide race last night in the hotel as various team members chatted up Kyle Busch’s Nationwide win Friday night.

Kyle’s pit crew won the race off of pit road in the NNS race here in Phoenix – the “Bashas’ Supermarkets 200” . The guys that I know from various Sprint Cup teams were discussing Kyle’s NNS pit crew and that it is, in essence, the Sprint Cup pit crew and that as he came in to pit they knew that his pit crew would have him out first and winning.

The guys were discussing how other Nationwide teams who do not use veteran Sprint Cup pit crew members for their cars could possibly compete. It was an interesting discussion.

So today when I got in the garage – I checked to see how many Sprint Cup pit crew members were pitting Kyle’s Nationwide car.

Actually: Here’s the lowdown. These are the guys from the #18 Sprint Cup team that were helping to pit Kyle’s #18 NNS car last night
– Nick O’Dell – Front Tire Changer
– Brad Donaghy – Front Tire carrier
– Jake Seminara – Rear Tire Changer
– Kenny Barber – Rear Tire Carrier

So the discussion last night was how the Nationwide teams with less experienced pit crew members could compete against the above. Kyle totally drove his butt off – but clearly his pit crew members were key to the win – and I thought the information of just who was pitting his car was interesting.

I got an email the other day from a listener who wanted to know more about transponders in the race cars that are used in timing and scoring. I answered the email but promised a longer interview in response. I discussed the transponders this morning over coffee with Nelson Crozier of Nelson Specialties who for years has handled electronics in the garage and who is, frankly, an electronic genius.

Nelson, how about a brief on the transponders:

“The transponders are all mounted to the rear of the car adjacent to the fuel cell and they are tie wrapped into place so normally they don’t come off but if for some reason they do get knocked off in a crash you have to mount a new bracket in the same spot and install a new transponder before you go back out on the track.

All the transponders must be located in the same spot – it is specified in the rule book and that way when they cross the line they are all measured identically. The transponder is about the size of a pack of playing cards or a pack of cigarettes and there’s an activator loop in various spots around the track that activates the transponder. It then, in turn, sends a signal back to the activator loop which goes into the electronics and shows you where each car is when they cross that particular line. That’s why when a caution comes out the field is frozen and they go to back to the last line crossed.

Sometimes you’ll see a car in front of another car and he gets moved back into position that’s because at the last line crossed he was actually behind the car that he just passed.”

How often are they knocked loose or damaged?

“Maybe one every race or every three races not very often.

There is a bracket that is fixed to the frame then the transponder is installed in the bracket and held in place with a tie wrap. NASCAR hands them out and then collects them. They collect them every evening after practice or whatever track activity is going on and then they put them back in the chargers so they are fully charged before being handed out again.They are very similar to the EZ Toll Pass that you use in your car when you go through a toll on the highway.”

To the listener who asked about the transponders good questions. I can check that off my reporters pad for the day. Now, hey will you look at the time! I’ve got to run out to the grid so I’m out of here for now.

Enjoy the race and if you are on the East Coast I want to know how many of you will stay up on the couch the entire race from the green, green until the checkered flag flies. If I get a few minutes I’ll be sending more during the evening.

Have fun!

Claire B
Phoenix International Raceway