[NASCAR] Speed Addicts

Yeah, I’m late as usual, bite me. No need to do long intros today, no sir. We go straight to the action!

Race #11 of 36: Chevy American Revolution 400
Date: Saturday, May 14th, 2005 from Richmond, Virginia
Time: 7:30 PM on FX
Pole Sitter: Kasey Kahne (129.964 MPH)
Distance: 300 Miles (400 Laps – 0.75 Mile Track)
2004 Winner: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Race Ran 05/15/04)
Busch Race Winner: Carl Edwards

Richmond, Virginia. Site of the “ultimate payback track”, as coined just recently on local Charlotte sports radio 610 AM (cheap pop). Moreover, the site of the track that has quite possibly become the fourth best track in NASCAR, behind Bristol, Daytona, and Charlotte. Arguably the fastest short track in the world, Richmond International is what we like to call here at Speed Addict Central, a bloody F’n fun track to watch a race at. Richmond has long since been the site of many heart-pounding finishes… and plenty of fisticuffs to boot. Arguably one of the most memorable scuffles in NASCAR history, between Dale Earnhardt (Sr.) and Darrell Waltrip occurred here. Then again, we may see Jeff Green and Michael Waltrip tangle tonight, so it’s not like the track has mellowed out or anything. Richmond gained a lot of notoriety in NASCAR circles for challenging Humpy Wheeler and Charlotte “Lowe’s” Motor Speedway several years ago for the rights to the then-Winston, NASCAR’s version of the all-star race. Just to have the chutzpah to buck the establishment was brave enough, but Richmond International has gained considerable momentum in the hunt for the Nextel All Star Challenge. Enough so to send Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Wheeler, and pretty much all of North Carolina into a panic.

I’d like to say that I’m joking here, but I’m not. The N.C. State Legislature and Governor Mike Easley (you know, the governing body of the state of NORTH CAROLINA), have done everything short of sticking dynamite underneath the racing surface at Richmond, Atlanta, and Infineon to keep the “Nextel” in Charlotte. Currently, tax breaks for NASCAR are being cooked up in the State House, and they’re expected to be signed into law by our racing lug nut Governor, who narrowly missed his second “racing accident” during his stint with such luminaries as the Lowe’s Motor Speedway Mascot earlier this week in Raleigh.

Ah, you have to love North Carolina. At least we haven’t resorted to drinking contests, yet. Yet… Anyways, that’s neither here or now, rather next week when we actually hit the Nextel All-Star Challenge. Now then, as far as the Chevy American Revolution 400 goes, there’s two groups of people involved: the “comers” and the “goers”. The latter we needn’t worry about; it’s the biggies that you should watch. Gordon, Johnson, Earnhardt, Stewart, Newman, Harvick, Martin, Jarrett, Wallace, Waltrip. As a matter of fact, it should be noted that the car that won here last year (that which was driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr.) is being driven here again… by Michael Waltrip. Waltrip’s 10th place ride is being driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Does that make him the favorite to win, then? No, of course not, but it does bare mentioning. Actually, come to think of it, Mikey has always run well at Richmond. But since I want him to win, that wont happen. Carl Edwards won the Busch race here, which is cool, right up until you remember what happened the last time he won a Busch race at a Nextel Cup track (ie he won both races that weekend, circa Atlanta). Tony Stewart won his first career pole here, and has always had success. Is this where he turns things around? My prediction, though? The Alliteration MONSTAH, Kasey Kahne. He’s won the pole, his time trials have been excellent all week… and I just have a feeling about him tonight. Am I wrong? Probably, but I’ll still take my chances.

Predicted Top Five Finishers
1. Kasey Kahne
2. Tony Stewart
3. Ryan Newman
4. Elliott Sadler
5. Kevin Harvick

Bud Pole Qualifying Results
01. #9 Kasey Kahne – Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge
02. #12 Ryan Newman – ALLTEL Dodge
03. #20 Tony Stewart – The Home Depot Chevrolet
04. #97 Kurt Busch – IRWIN Industrial Tools/Sharpie Ford
05. #38 Elliott Sadler – M&M’s Ford
06. #21 Ricky Rudd – Motorcraft Genuine Parts Ford
07. #29 Kevin Harvick – GM Goodwrench Chevrolet
08. #2 Rusty Wallace – Miller Lite Dodge
09. #16 Greg Biffle – National Guard Ford
10. #5 Kyle Busch – Kellogg’s/Star Wars Chevrolet

11. #99 Carl Edwards – Roundup Extended Control Ford
12. #31 Jeff Burton – Cingular Wireless Chevrolet
13. #09 Johnny Sauter – Miccosukee Gaming & Resorts Dodge
14. #6 Mark Martin – Viagra Ford
15. #19 Jeremy Mayfield – Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge
16. #41 Casey Mears – Target Dodge
17. #42 Jamie McMurray – Texaco/Havoline Dodge
18. #43 Jeff Green – Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge
19. #07 Dave Blaney – Bass Pro Shops/Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet
20. #24 Jeff Gordon – DuPont Chevrolet

21. #77 Travis Kvapil – Dodge Kodak/Jasper Engines Dodge
22. #40 Sterling Marlin – Coors Light Dodge
23. #15 Michael Waltrip – NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet
24. #0 Mike Bliss – NetZero Best Buy Chevrolet
25. #01 Joe Nemechek – U.S. Army Chevrolet
26. #17 Matt Kenseth – DeWalt Power Tools Ford
27. #8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Budweiser Chevrolet
28. #48 Jimmie Johnson – Lowe’s Chevrolet
29. #25 Brian Vickers – GMAC/ditech.com Chevrolet
30. #4 Mike Wallace – Lucas Oil Products Chevrolet

31. #192 Tony Raines – Front Row Motorsports Chevrolet
32. #32 Bobby Hamilton Jr. – Tide Chevrolet
33. #7 Robby Gordon – Jim Beam Chevrolet
34. #22 Scott Wimmer – Caterpillar Dodge
35. #88 Dale Jarrett – UPS Ford
36. #10 Scott Riggs – Arometrics/Valvoline Chevrolet
37. #175 Mike Garvey – Jani-King/Rinaldi Air Conditioning Dodge
38. #11 Jason Leffler – FedEx Ground Chevrolet
39. #18 Bobby Labonte – Boniva Chevrolet
40. #49 Ken Schrader – Schwan’s Home Service Dodge
41. #45 Kyle Petty – Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge
42. #89 Morgan Shepherd – Victory in Jesus/Red Line Oil Dodge
43. #66 Hermie Sadler – Peak Fitness Ford

[CREDIT: NASCAR.com]

NASCAR Q & A
This is an experimental feature that I’ve been working on for awhile now. I was planning on adding this in with Know Your NASCAR, but the questions that I was coming up with really deserved their own little section. From now on, readers are welcomed to (and encouraged to) send your questions in, and I’ll answer any and all of them that I get, so long as I don’t run out of questions to answer. This week, we take a look at a couple more interesting FYI facts that you may find interesting.

Q: What exactly is the precedent for the Green/White/Checker Finish?
A: The notion of the Green/White/Checker finish arose from the finish of the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega last year. With something close to six laps left, there was a minor incident on the backstretch if memory serves, and the caution came out. Jeff Gordon had just passed Dale Earnhardt Jr. going into Turn 3 (it’s been so long, actually it may have been Turn 2 where he passed Junior, and the wreck was on the front stretch). The field was instantly frozen, thanks in part to rules changes that had stemmed from Dover a year earlier, frozen meaning everyone’s positions are locked, and no one can gain or lose while they’re still running on the track. With six laps to go, everyone assumed that, this being Talladega, NASCAR would green light the race to resume with two or three laps to go. Except NASCAR had no intention of finishing the race; they let Gordon run around the track for five more laps, essentially guaranteeing him the victory. It was when they crossed the start finish line with two laps to go that people caught wind that the race was over. You see, the flag man would have to signal to the pace car and the field that they would be going to the green flag next time by. The pace car would then turn off its lights, and we’d be ready to go racing. With two laps left at Talladega, the last chance for the race to be resumed, the flagman just waved them by. It took like ten minutes for then to crawl around at a snail’s pace before the race finally ended. Fans, who were rightfully pissed at such a cop out finish after paying good money and waiting all damn day, threw everything in their possession on the track, including beer cans and even coolers. Jeff Gordon smugly remarked later that he thought the crowd was happy since they were throwing Pepsi bottles at him (Pepsi is a secondary sponsor of Gordon’s). Thus, Helton and NASCR officials drafted the Green/White/Checker finish rule to attempt to solve that problem, and so far, it’s worked. As for me, I was particularly happy to see Junior get screwed over, since he’d backstabbed Michael Waltrip and Tony Stewart less than a lap before the caution by hanging them both out to dry on the high side, after they’d pushed him to the lead.

Q: What’s your opinion on the Kurt Busch incident at Darlington?
A: A complete lack of discipline and a travesty of justice, that’s what my opinion is. Busch hits an official with a damn water bottle, openly curses an official over the in-car radio, then revs his engine in defiance of the official’s request, which was spurred by a blatant and obvious infraction of the rules on Busch’s behalf. In other words, Busch must have been on his knees for quite a while to get away with what he did last weekend. Make no mistake; his ass is in a sling vis a vis Helton and the Oval Office if he mucks it all up at Richmond tonight.

Q: What’s the coolest car sponsor you’ve ever seen?
A: Good question. Of course, the Butt Paste sponsor that nearly got into competition last year was pretty damn funny. Probably the coolest serious sponsor would have to be… KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN! No, in all honestly, the most recognizable sponsors would have to include Petty’s STP (which happens to be my initials, honest to God) #43 car, Earnhardt’s #3 GM/Goodwrench Chevy, and Rusty Wallace’s #2 Miller Light Ford/Dodge. My personal favorite scheme is Darrell Waltrip’s Western Auto sponsor, for obvious reasons. Then again, I was always a sucker for the Superflo Lumina driven by Tom Cruise in Days of Thunder also, so who knows for sure.

Q: Why has “bump drafting” exploded onto the NASCAR scene as of late?
A: It hasn’t really exploded onto the scene, seeing as it’s been used for quite a while. Though “rubbin” and “bump drafting” are not exactly the same, the principle is generally the same; hit the guy in front of you on the back bumper, and it gives him a quick speed boost, and with you drafting with him, it helps pull you faster as well. All that aerodynamics and stuff. The reason it has become so “popular” is because the mainstream audience, the same audience that is new to the sport and hasn’t a clue as to what’s really going on, is just now catching on to some of the lingo. Back when NASCAR was on TNN and ESPN, everything was implied, partly because everyone watching was Southern and knew what was happening, and because Ned Jarrett is Ned F’n Jarrett, and that would be blasphemous for Jarrett to lower himself to the newbie peons that could give two drops of monkey piss about racing.

Q: What channels were NASCAR races broadcast on before?
A: For the love of Sweet Mercy. ESPN, TNN (now Spike TV), ABC occasionally, CBS (the Daytona 500), TBS (for the Coca-Cola 600) and possibly TNT, though that is debatable.

Q: Who’s your favorite music group?
A: Ah, how dare you ask a redneck that. Actually, I’m a bit torn on music selections, because I don’t listen to music as religiously as some, but more than others, if that makes any sense. I’m big on rock, classic and otherwise, some rap, alternative, techno and funk on occasion. I can even listen to some classical crap, but only in certain situations, if you catch my drift. The most frequent visitors on my stereo include: Lacuna Coil, Linkin Park, Evanescence, Switchblade Symphony, Vast, Korn, Breaking Benjamin, Crossfade, Disturbed, Drowning Pool, Nickleback, Nirvana, Marilyn Manson, Metallica, Five Pointe O, Killswitch Engage, and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Yes, I listen to Skynyrd, so sue me.

Q: Does it anger you to here people trash NASCAR?
A: While it bothers me when people use NASCAR to make fun of Southerners (ie stereotyping us as being a bunch of hick-like, racist rednecks, people taking a squat on NASCAR personally doesn’t affect me at all. Now, what does push my buttons is to see some idiot greenhorn on ESPN News go about talking like he knows all about NASCAR, when he probably doesn’t know the difference between wedge and a tunnel turn. That irks me more than people making fun of 43 grown men driving around on circles.

Q: Why haven’t you gotten the RaceDay Pulse recap up yet, Speed Addict?
A: …..

Q: Should NASCAR be racing at Indianapolis?
A: Well, that’s a two sided coin. For one, it’s important to realize that Indy is for all intensive purposes, the most important race in North America to everyone except North Americans. Indy is the Big Kahuna of IRL, and for this brand of racing in general. It almost feels treasonous to race there in August, almost as bad as if F1 or CART started racing religiously at Daytona. Then again… NASCAR has, for the past five or so years now, outdrawn the Indianapolis 500 as far as paid attendance goes with the Brickyard 400, so who cares.

KNOW YOUR NASCAR
This section is geared more towards international readers as opposed to American readers, who probably know a bit more about NASCAR racing by sheer osmosis. Each week, we’ll drive headlong into a facet of Stock Car Racing here in the United States, whether it be a bit about the sport itself, its personalities, or its history. This week, we’re going to take a look at the fine art of pit stops, and how they’ve evolved over the years. And, as always, I may make reference to the “modern era” several times from here on. The Modern Era of NASCAR includes everything from 1972 to the present, just for reference.

Races are always finished on the track, but that’s not always where they’re won. Just last week at Darlington, Greg Biffle’s pit stop earned him a win over Ryan Newman, who had elected to stay out instead of pitting. The pit stop, while not as important as the driver inside the car, can go a long way to keeping a driver in contention. For those not familiar with NASCAR (or racing in the slightest), the “pit stop” is where the race car comes off of the racing surface onto a sort of side road with white, painted boxes up and down the road. These are called “pit stalls”; everyone has them on the track. When a car peels off the track, he must maintain a certain speed (normally 55 MPH) down the length of the pit road, because it is here where you run the risk of hitting a person with your car. Macabre? Well, you bet, but it’s the truth. That’s why there’s speed limits down pit road, and that’s why pit crew members are required to wear flame-retardant suits and helmets. When a car comes down pit road, he will locate his car number sign being held by his crew at his box (this is done to help the driver locate his stall, because with forty three other cars coming and going, it can become difficult to spot your stall. Once you pull in, assuming you’re not over your pit stall line, your crew goes to work. Seven crew members are allowed over the wall at one time: two tire changers (a front tire changer to change the left and right front tires, a rear tire changer to do the opposite), two tire carriers, a fuel man, a gas-catch can man, and a jack man.

The jack man slides the jack underneath the car and lifts it up while the tire changers use air guns to loosen the lug nuts that keep the tires attached to the car. The tire carriers bring the new sticker tires over and help lift them into place, and are responsible for taking the old tires back behind their pit wall.

The tire carriers are also responsible for removing debris from the grill of the car, and anything else hindering the progress of the car. Meanwhile, as soon as the tire changers have now tightened all the lug nuts on the new set of tires on one side of the car, they get up, and run around to the other side. The jack man releases the jack from that side of the car, picks up the jack, runs around and does the same thing on the opposite side. Two new tires are dumped over the pit wall as the tire changers toss the old tires over the pit wall, grab the new tires, and again help the tire changers place the tires in the correct position.

Meanwhile, the gas man has been lugging his huge gas can (for a lack of better term) up on his shoulder, fueling the car during the whole tire changing process. To show you how much fuel this bad boy takes, these cans, which are roughly the length of a bicycle and weigh three times as much, are not enough to fill the car with fuel completely. On average, on a full service stop, it requires two of these fuel cans to get enough fuel in the car.

Rounding out the crew is the catch can man, who uses a special device called, you guessed it, a catch can. The catch can “catches” excess fuel that spills out from the back of the car through a special valve. With so many cars entering and exiting, and being under the gun to boot, pit crews don’t have enough time to measure out the amount of fuel needed exactly to fill the car up to the brim. They just dump as much fuel as they can, as long as they can. This can become dangerous when excess gas just dumps itself out onto the ground. If you’ve ever seen fires break out on pit road before, it’s because of a spark that has hit the gasoline that has come out of the car. It’s not a perfect system, but the catch can does work very well. Four tires changed and a full tank of gas, with a seven man service crew costs plenty to the team owner, nothing to the driver… except 13-15 seconds of your time.

Yes, 13-15 seconds. That’s how long it takes for everyone to get their jobs done, sans a critical error, or massive car repairs, like fixing body work damage on the car. So much is going on during these pit stops, its absolute madness if you’re a NASCAR geek like I am. These guys are often working with 42 other cars whizzing by less than inches away from you at 55 MPH or more. Every second counts in the pit stalls, so your tire changers have to be exactly precise, for there are so many ways to bring disaster to your team’s cause. If you don’t get all five lug nuts tightened on the new tires, your driver will be assessed a penalty. If the tire carriers allow a tire to roll out onto pit road or into the infield grass, your driver will be assessed a penalty. If the catch can or, god forbid, the gas can get dragged out of the pit stop with the car, your driver will be assessed a penalty. If fenders are not pulled out of the tire chamber, if the tires themselves are not properly placed on the car, or if you don’t put enough fuel in the car, the driver will be forced to bring the car in earlier than expected, severely hurting your chances. All of these things are taken into account, along with servicing the car as needed, happen within 13-15 seconds. Anything less than 13 seconds for a four tire stop and fuel is considered amazing, while anything over 15 seconds is considered slow. Tight margin, eh? Not to mention the extra jobs that various crew members have while over the wall. Someone may have to put (or take out) wedge to tighten or loosen the car. The windshield pull-offs may have to be removed to allow the driver to see. The heat from the engine may be burning the driver from inside the car, necessitating ice or water for the driver. It’s insane.

The pit crew are not the only ones working during the pit stop, though. The pit crew chief, who normally sits atop his team’s mini-hauler, is guiding the process from behind the wall. The pit crew chief, in collaboration with the driver, decides on what the team wants to do on the pit stop. Of course, the crew chief is not always able to spot potential dangers for the drivers while they’re coming on pit road. That’s why the team’s spotters (men who often stand on the roof of the track’s grandstand who help identify trouble spots for drivers while they’re racing from the sky) help guide the drivers into their stalls as best they can. If you’re listening to the in-car radio feed, you will often hear a voice count down “3…2…1… Clear” or “Clear One Lane”, this is most likely the crew chief or the team’s spotter on the roof, helping the driver enter or exit his pit stall.

There are various different “types” of pit stops that can go down; normally, these different strategies only come into play within the final pit stop of the race, though that’s not set in stone. Some times, cars will only take left side tires, in order to save time. Cars that are stronger than others can get away with this some times, though the two-tire stop has lost a lot of its usefulness in recent years. Aside from the four time stops, some cars may come in for an extended stop, where the sledgehammers come out in an attempt to correct sheet metal problems. Near the very end of the race, you may here announcers refer to pit stops as being “splash ‘n go” stops. This refers to a no-tire stop, where the gas man takes a can of fuel and dumps as much fuel into the car as he can in a five or so second window. This normally happens within the last twenty laps of the race, and is done to help a car finish the race without coming in for a full stop for fuel at the very end.

Pit stops have long been a part of NASCAR. Though pit stops are not common, if completely foreign to the earliest dirt track racers, pit stops were already being implemented in NASCAR as early as the 1950s and early 1960s. I personally remember seeing some sort of video (possibly at Daytona USA at Daytona International Speedway), where Fred Lorenzen (or Fireball Roberts, perhaps) came down for a pit stop in those weird looking race cars, by today’s standards. An average pit stop back in the day took roughly one minute. That wasn’t the standard for long, as teams realized that the longer they were on pit road, the lesser their chances became to win the race. By the 1980s, pit stops had evolved into twenty-five second stops; a far cry from those sixty-second stops, but still slow by today’s standards. When I first started watching NASCAR, the 18-second pit stop was considered the plateau for drivers to aim for. I can still remember back when 20-second stops were considered good times. Now, 20-second stops are a nightmare! Of course, I’m the last one to really discuss all of this; when I was 10 years old, we took a vacation down to Florida, and we stopped off at Daytona USA, an interactive theatre/arcade/museum type attraction by the speedway in Daytona Beach. Among the different features there is an actual stock car, sitting behind a mock pit wall, and people are chosen from a gathered audience to “change a tire” on the car. I got to use the air gun and take the roll of the “tire changer”. How long did it take for our crew to change one tire? Forty seven seconds. If Speed Addict can’t do it, you know it’s good stuff.

Victory Lap for the PIMPS
Todd has new digs up at IP Sports.God, I miss Mister Rogers.

Nick Pomazak gets his Donald Trump pictures uploaded and readies the paintball guns in his latest edition.Pomazak owns your soul.

This is normally where Eric’s obligatory pimp would go, and what a coincidence… Here it is.

Since everyone took a week off like I did, apparently… Pancakes gets his pimp on twice today.Cracker Barrel fans rejoice! We’ve got PANCAKES!

And, of course, Patrick Nguyen makes an appearance on our countdown of the best.God, welcome to your Pimp.

Aw, what the Hell, might as well pimp his last column, too.Enjoy the Classics!

Victory Lane
Bellamy Road lost at the Derby, Phoenix looks to meet San Antonio in the Western Conference Finals, Kurt Busch is still a penis, and I’m out. Until Monday, I’ll be putting the finishing touches on the Talladega RaceDay Pulse before I start on the Richmond installment. Look out for a tidal wave of material over the next two weeks though, as we prep for the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600, plus Speed Weeks over Charlotte! Peace, my little people.

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