Thursday, May 25, 2006

Got questions for David Poole? Here are some answers

You ask 'em, I answer 'em.
Q: With the "lucky dog" rule allowing drivers to get a lap back, why not double-file the restarts? There may be one car that gets a lap back from starting on the inside, but the rest just get in the way of good racing.
A: Agreed. In an earlier blog here I proposed precisely that, double-file restarts and allowing the leader to choose inside or outside, then second to choose and so on. I know for a fact that at one point last year the idea of double-file restarts with lead-lap cars up front was at least brought up for NASCAR's brass to consider. I don't believe it got very far, however.
NASCAR's practice in the past few years has been to give cars that fall a lap down every possible chance to make that up. Having more cars on the lead lap at the end of a race makes it look, at least on paper, like a more competitive race.
Q: We always hear drivers say things like "This is the same car we wrecked at Bristol." If it was wrecked and rebuilt, what makes it the same car? In other words, what is the definition of "car" in NASCAR terms. At what point is one scrapped. If part of the framework is damaged and they cut that part out and repair it, is that the same "car?"
A: When NASCAR teams refer to having the same car, they're talking about the same chassis.
hat's the basic framework, the floor pan and the tubes that make up the roll cage. Teams usually assign numbers to chassis they build or buy from a chassis company.
That chassis, over the course of its life, may have several front or rear "clips" placed on it. That's the structure that differs a bit whether the car's a Ford or Chevrolet or Dodge.
They'll also have different bodies hung on them, the sheet-metal that forms the skin of the car over the chassis structure. If a car is wrecked so badly that the basic skeletal elements are damaged, the car might be scrapped altogether or repaired and used as a "show car."
Q: I've heard Darrell Waltrip and Tony Eury Jr. and some other people call him by the nickname "Junebug." Where did that come from?
A: It was something Dale Earnhardt Sr. called him when he was a very young boy, and some people have been using it ever since.
Q: If Nextel Cup drivers can do an unlimited number of tests in their Cup cars at Kentucky and Nashville, where the Cup cars don't race, can Busch drivers do the same thing in Busch cars? For instance, could Denny Hamlin or Clint Bowyer take their Busch cars and test at Pocono or at Infineon Raceway?
A: The answer is yes, Hamlin or Bowyer or any other driver could take a Busch car and do unlimited tests at Pocono or Infineon, tracks where the Busch Series doesn't run.
The rules apply the same way in both directions.
Q: With all of the money and engineering in NASCAR, why isn't there a track cover/tarp system similar to baseball to keep the track dry (or not let it get as wet) during rain? This could really decrease the time it takes to dry a track after the rain.
A: Well, it certainly sounds like a good idea. Lowe's Motor Speedway president H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler talks about how one day he believes there will be something like this in place - some kind of heating system imbedded into the track's surface, for instance, that could be turned on to facilitate drying.
The problem is making it cost-effective. Any such system, as well as any kind of tarp system, would have to be very elaborate.
Imagine, for instance, how much tarp you'd need to cover Daytona's 2.5-mile track. You'd have to have some way to have the tarp be right beside the track so it could be deployed when needed, but still have the mechanism for storing and deploying it not get in the way of the racing.
You would have to be able to get it in place very quickly, too, because the cars often are on the track when the rain begins.
Nothing is impossible these days. The new NFL stadium being built for the Arizona Cardinals has a grass field that can be moved outside of the stadium to get sunlight and rain and then rolled back into the indoor stadium before game time.
Maybe the race track answer, at least at a place like Bristol where there are grandstands all around a relatively small track, would be a retractable fabric roof that could cover the track when the cars aren't racing and be pulled away during events.
Q: When Jimmie Johnson wins a race you guys put a big picture of him and his car on the sports page. When Dale Earnhardt Jr. won at Richmond and Greg Biffle won at Darlington, though, you didn't have them or their cars on the sports page. Why not? Why don't you give other drivers the same respect you give Johnson?
A: Because the folks who put the paper out on Sunday mornings aren't psychic. Richmond and Darlington were Saturday night races. Newspaper deadlines stink on Saturday nights and photos have to be selected long before the race is over.
Many readers, in fact, don't get stories about Saturday night races in their Sunday papers because part of the press run is done before the race ends. It stinks, but we can't stop the clock any more than we can tell who's going to win before the race is over.
In many cases, but not all, we'll run photos of a Saturday night winner with a follow-up story in the Monday paper.
But on some days more current news about other events dictates that they get more prominent play. One thing that makes working for a newspaper interesting is that you don't get the same news two days in a row.
Each day, our desk looks at what is happening and decides which stories are the biggest ones. They get the prominent play. Sometimes that's the race, sometimes it's not. Sometimes who wins has something to do with that decision, other times it does not.
If, for example, the points leader wrecks and somebody not in the Chase wins a race late in the year, the lead photo may be of the wreck and not the winner.
News happens, and sometimes it doesn't happen early enough for us to do as much as we'd like to do. (More questions? Send them to me at dpoole@charlotteobserver.com or leave them as comments to this blog.)

5 comments:

Marc said...

What is the staus of NASCAR's "Engine of the Future?"

Last I heard about the project was nearly a year ago and some predicted at the time it was a dead issue.

With NASCAR going to unleaded fuel and pressure being placed on it to switch to Ethanol it makes one question where NASCAR is on the EoT project. Dead? Alive? Or just pushed aside while the CoT is phased in?

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