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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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Pocono Raceway Driver’s Meeting Sunday, May 8, 2008 June 8, 2008

Posted by claireblang in 2008 Season, Trackside.
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Pocono 500Image via WikipediaGood day! Welcome to race day.

A couple of interesting notes from the Sprint Cup Series drivers’ meeting here at Pocono Raceway.

Dale Earnhardt Junior
– watched the Nationwide Race at Nashville on Direct TV in his Motor Home Saturday night – well until Direct TV mysteriously went to a network logo and dropped the broadcast for the final laps of the race. The broadcast – out for an estimated ten laps – picked up with Brad Keselowski in Victory Lane – so Dale Junior did not get to see his driver race to the win as he too watched the broadcast go to a logo while watching the Nationwide race from his motor home. “Yea, Pretty frustrating,” he said when I asked him about it. He also said, heading into the driver’s meeting, that he was proud of the entire Junior Motorsports team and that the team’s win would accomplish some great things for his team. “It really makes us a legitimate contender for the championship this year,” Dale Junior said today at the entrance to the drivers’ meeting. “From an owner’s standpoint it puts us in a Winner’s Circle Program and there’s a lot of different things that it will change for our program and (it will) help our program. I think it really gives us a stronger footing in the series and our ability to be there and compete for a few more years.

No questions at the driver’s meeting from the drivers – and the usual information noted by Race Director David Hoots. Specifics to Pocono and the Pocono 500:

Pit Road Speed Pocono: 55 mph
Caution Car Speed Pocono: 70 mph
Pit Road Speed Begins: 165 feet before the first pit box
Pit Road Speed Ends: 75 feet past the last pit box
Minimum Speed: 60.08 seconds

After the drivers’ meeting, with no questions and the drivers ready to go, we prayed. Amen!

Mood Meter: Does it work?
In my humble observation – the guy who was in an obvious good mood at the driver’s meeting was DeWalt Ford driver Matt Kennseth. He starts 13th -and was 5th fastest in the final practice. I go to the drivers’ meeting each week -and my gut reaction observation doesn’t mean a guy will win- but to me- even better than the track stats – it’s an indication he’s pretty happy with things heading into the race today. Let’s see if my mood meter works 🙂 We’ll meet back here after the race.

J.D. Gibbs Doesn’t Crack Under Pressure:

J.D. Gibbs will not sing like a bird! He might have been good in the military in battle. I was hanging out over at the NASCAR food area in the garage with another reporter having coffee very early this morning and J.D. walked up. The reporter tried to pry from him anything regarding a fourth team for Gibbs Racing or the contract future forTony Stewart. Despite comments from crew chief Greg Zipadelli that, in his opinion, Tony Stewart knows where he will be driving in the future Gibbs said it is not a done deal. Silly season is in full bloom – but Gibbs could be a poker player -and he swears it’s not a done deal with Stewart already done with his decision. The negotiating continues?

Well – out to pit road for the start of the race. I’ll keep you posted and you can email me if you have some good race questions during or after this race.

Take care.

Claire B
Pocono Raceway
XM Satellite Radio

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Pocono Saturday Night Blog June 7, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Drivers.
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Greetings from Pocono!

I thought I’d write you a quick POSTCard from the mountains 🙂 Yep – Kyle Busch came to the track from Texas good to go. But he had a wrangle with the wall during practice. It’s wild that no one seemed to have a great replay of it. We have descriptions from the TV people but everyone wanted a clear replay. Even his crew chief Steve Addington had not seen a replay of it. Busch was ok – but he was on a tight schedule. The car was mangled and they pulled out a back up. He slipped out the side door of the hauler on his way to Nashville without talking to the media – and he was in a hurry to get to Nashville so time was short.

I keep getting emails about Busch. I’ll post them but am not picking them out – because they are raw. I think the folks who like Busch are not as apt to write as those who do not.

Here are a couple I received today –

Hi Claire B:

I’m so disgusted I can hardly stand it. I just watched Kyle Busch put on an impressive display of driving, working his way through the field (cleanly for once) in the truck race. He gave Hornaday a run for his money, but came up just short, finishing second to the winningest driver in truck series history, which I would think is something to be proud of. And what were the first words out of his mouth when he was interviewed? “What a piece of crap!” Belatedly, he remembered to thank his crew, although it was really backhanded – “They worked hard all day, I’m sure”. Talk about a poor sport, an ungrateful, graceless, spoiled brat!!! Did he even mention his sponsor? No. He was just petulant and egocentric. Even when he congratulated Hornaday, he made it sound like the only reason Ron won was because Kyle didn’t get a good restart. If the truck was so bad, how the heck did he almost win the race??? No one is that good of a driver. I’ve never heard a professional driver, particularly one who has been on the cup level for several years, give such a childish, classless interview, particularly after finishing second. It’s way past time for him to grow up and learn some manners. I would think the Coach would be teaching him some, but apparently just winning races is enough for him and JD. If I were Kyle’s parents, I’d be so embarrassed by his behavior I couldn’t show my face. But I guess if they cared about such things, we wouldn’t have been treated to this disgraceful display in the first place. This is just another reason why I hit the “mute” button as soon as a microphone is put in front of Kyle Busch. I dread the rest of the season, having to keep my finger poised as he pouts his way through the three top series.

Congratulations to Ron Hornaday on another wonderful win.

– Tricia in CA

Reply To: Tricia
From: CBL
Your email got me to double check the post race in Texas and see what he said in the media center. The transcript is below FYI – I thought you’d like the read (below).


KYLE BUSCH -Finished: 2nd

Can you talk about how your truck was handling throughout the night?

“In the beginning, it was just plowing tight and the front end wasn’t hitting the race track. We have to have the front end down on the race track to get the most grip out of the truck and get the splitter down. If there’s any air that goes underneath the truck, it just kills it. We had too much air underneath the truck at the beginning. We took some rounds out of the front, and got the front end to work better. Then, it was just sideways loose up off the corner. This tire, me not getting to practice on it, I didn’t know if it was going to go loose or if it was going to go tight. We were sideways there in the middle of the runs, absolutely just barely hanging on.” Are you disappointed that you didn’t win the race? “We finished second for Billy Ballew. That’s what matters the most. I know we lost points to Hornaday, I’m sure he led the most lost, but we’ll take a good finish we can. We’ve struggled here in the past few weeks of getting finishes we need. Dover, we messed up. Charlotte, we messed up. Here, we lost a little, but we gained on a lot of other guys. So, we can go to Michigan and try to win there.”

Can you talk about what the team had to do to make this truck handle for you?

“We fixed it and made the most of it. You have to give it to this team. They worked hard all day, I’m sure. They unloaded with a good base line and J.R. (Norris) did the best he could. But, man, it just wasn’t for me at the beginning. We worked on it and made so many adjustments on it all night. Luckily, we made it home second. Congratulations to Ron (Hornaday). I just didn’t get a good restart there at the end. I couldn’t make a race out of it.”

How hard was the truck to drive tonight?

“It’s a testament to this team. They did a great job, but the thing wasn’t my truck at the beginning. It was a piece of (crap). We worked on it and made it the best we could. It just wasn’t a second-place truck at all. It was probably an eighth-place truck. We made the most of it tonight and came home second. All we have to do is go to Pocono and practice tomorrow and then go to Nashville.”

Hi Claire B,

I’m watching Trackside right now, and Larry Mac said it so simply when discussing the “why” Kyle is doing so well this year compared to last year.

Larry Mac said it is because “Kyle is with a team that believes in him, and he believes in that team.”

Wow! That’s it! I’ve tried to figure it out, but Larry Mac has it right. So simple. A revelation to me! And I will repeat it to my friends who are Hendrick lovers and Kyle naysayers.

But you know, that is what is at the root of me becoming a Kyle fan the day he was dumped by Hendrick. Hendrick didn’t believe in him, and that pissed me off and made me a Kyle fan, in a protective motherly sort of way. Because I did believe in him.

I feel like I’ve been to therapy. (If you don’t understand that, okay, but I thank Larry Mac for the revelation.) And I didn’t pay a dime.

I included the post race from the media center and checked it to see what he said. Does it make a difference that he thanked his team inside where the media were sitting? You tell me. I just want all the information out so you can fully decide with all the facts. Well folks – I’m off to a dinner so I have to scoot. More from the garage tomorrow. I wanted to touch base and tell you some things before I headed out and yes, I am dressed up tonight. That’s a rare thing.
Usually I’m in the garage and I don’t get the chance to dress up!
I’ll have a bunch to tell you tomorrow.
Enjoy the Nationwide race in Nashville.

As always.

Claire B
Pocono Mountains

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