Sunday, April 29, 2007

Kyle Busch is Unlucky; Does Donuts to Celebrate

Kyle Busch can't catch a break. For one, he drives what is consistently the ugliest car in the field every week, but he has been shafted when he's had a dominant car many times this year, many times involving wrecks. He's wrecked a ridiculous amount of times in the past few weaks between the Busch and Cup series, and they haven't exactly been minor wrecks. He had that "miscommunication" after a wreck where he thought his car was trashed and left the track, resulting in Dale Jr. driving his car to the finish. He flipped like crazy in the Aaron's 312 then smacked the wall hard in today's race. It's no wonder he declined the customary interview - and it shows that for all his immaturity, he at least has enough presence of mind to know when to keep away from the cameras.. well, when he isn't in victory lane, that is.

Despite all his bad luck, he did win a race, and suffered a case of foot-in-mouth disease, badmouthing the Car of Tomorrow in its first race. But he'd probably be our points leader right now if he weren't catching so many bad breaks - and I think he knows it.

After today's wreck, he tried to keep going with an obviously smashed car. The only result from this was he wound up doing a set of donuts on the backstretch of Talladega, much like the ones a winner celebrating would do. Who knows, maybe he was celebrating his own bad luck.

Screenshots of Kyle Busch's post-wreck donuts.

Jimmie Johnson's Vengeance on the 25

Today's race was officially "Irony Day" at Talladega. Stewart gets saved by a debris caution when he was just earlier in the week complaining about them. Dale Earnhardt's last rival eclipses him on his birthday at a track filled with fans who would never have possibly seen it coming, and were none too pleased. Oh, and the 48 car dumped the 25 car in a miscue after working well together all day - an exact reverse of what happened at the end of the last race at Talladega, that saw Brian Vickers going on to victory lane.

Of course, the drivers were different - Casey Mears has since replaced vickers as the driver of the 25. But it just seems that anybody who drives that car gets sadled with bad luck. Up and comers like Jerry Nadeu, a former Busch champ like Vickers, and now Mears. Their cars were consistently good, but the 25 just seems to be cursed. Or something.

Either way, you have to wonder if maybe Johnson had some left over agression towards the 25 from last time. Of course, if you're going to go by that theory, maybe he was mad at Greg Biffle, as Casey's car is an almost exact replica in paint scheme of the Biff's National Guard car from last year. Ok, maybe not. Here are the screenshots:

We know now it was another Hendrick "miscommunication." Mears and company thought their teammates were peeling off with them to pit. Johnson and company had no clue this was going to happen and Johnson apparently missed Casey's hand signals down the backstretch. Hendrick cars have been dominating this year, but they also seem to be plagued by bizarre missteps that hurt them. Only their utter domination on the track makes up for this. Luckily for Mears, he will barely hang on to the 35th position in points, meaning he has a guaranteed slot in next week's race.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Talladega COT Race Will Be the Best

I'm going to put it on the line. My prediction: The Car of TOmorrow race at Talladega in the fall will be better than this weekend's race at Talladega.

Why? The Car of Tomorrow seems the be designed to enhance everything you need for a good restrictor plate race. Combined with the Talladega repaving, we're going to see something spectacular. If you're any sort of fan, you remember the last race at Dega, where Vickers hit his team mate and spun him out. This incident overshadowed the other stories of the weekend. The new repaving of Talladega made the already super-fast speedway even faster. The Bumps and roughness in the track have been eliminated. This allows cars to run softer springs without bottoming out, and increase maneuverability. The new pavement also increased grip. The freight train of cars continually ran right up against the 200 MPH barrier.

The Car of Tomorrow brings a few new improvements. For one, the cars are blockier. They are fucking bricks. At certain angles, they look almost exactly like the trucks. Have you ever seen a restrictor plate truck race? They slingshot around like in the old days. The huge cars will punch wide holes in the air, allowing for better drafting and cars will close up very quickly on each other. They are also wider, which again contributes to the bigger hole they will have for other cars to draft with. NASCAR tempered the trucks and their incredible closing rates by restricting them even further. But if you remember the first Truck race at Daytona -- well, we can expect something along those lines.

The Car of Tommorrow has a rear bumper that has been lowered to the height of the nose on the other cars. Bump drafting will be far more stable, as the chances of the bumping car lifting the rear wheels of the bumped car off the ground will be far less. This may lead to some moves we've never seen before.

The front splitter will mess up air more. The wing also will again probably contribute to the draft. But the Wing has another feature - one not seen since the 1970's in NASCAR. The old Dodge Daytona's - those cars with the ridiculously huge wing on the rear were particularly good at the big tracks liek Talladega because the wide force the fins provided. If you watch clips from the last race, the up and down motion had been eliminated, but they were still drifting around from side to side in the draft. The verticle sidewings on the back will stabilize this motion and allow for even better handling in the draft.

It is possible that the cars will handle "perfectly." They will be just as fast, but with bigger drafting abilities and more sideways stability. Combined with the sidewings, I think all that control and stability may lead us to seeing someone try something never before seen on these tracks - A bump draft in the tri-oval, or even the corners.

Either way. This weekend's race with the Car of Today will be good. But the race in the fall will be far better.

Monday, April 02, 2007

What we Learned About The Car of Tommorow.. Er.. Tomorrow

If there is one thing I have learned from this whole Car of Tommorrow deal, it's that I'm really bad at spelling "car of tomorow." And apparently, so is everyone who finds this blog by search engine.

So we've seen the COT in action on short tracks. The aero stuff didn't come into play, except at Bristol where the splitter kept cutting down right rear/left tires whenever cars made contact. Look for them to revise that little kickout before they hit the superspeedways where that sort of thing could cause real harm.

We also learned that Mike Joy has an endless list of random objects "you could stick four wheels on and Tony Stewart could win with it" ranging from cinderblocks to roaches.

We learned about hexes and some poor bastard named Waterman, whose cable driven fuel pump system isn't designed to work in something as long as a stock car. That's really just unfortunate timing - more to do with Chevy's development of a new engine with a safer fuel system (less likely to pump fuel onto a raging engine fire after a wreck than the current system) rather than the COT.

We learned if you need axtra downforce, back your car into the wall to raise the wing up. I know NASCAR is trying to save costs, but it strikes me as a pretty useless move to stick a wing on a racecar if you're not going to let teams adjust it.

We learned delicate splitter braces are somewhat unecessary, and NASCAR won't black flag you when they snap. We also learned that the splitter is like a big scoop that will clog the air intake on cars, causing problems on brake-intensive short tracks. But you can't add more brake coolers to prevent a catastrophic failure as you barrel down into turn one. But remember, NASCAR is all about safety now.

We learned protective foam is flammable and nobody thought to put a heat shield between it and the hottest part of the car (the exhaust.) DW learned never to take NASCAR at its word when it says something is "not possible." Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart learned they might lose the championship as a result of NASCAR's playing around.

Going back to the wing, we learned people don't like it. And of course they don't - the cars look dorky with the damn thing on there. Not because racecars shouldn't have a wing - anywhere other than the bizarre world of NASCAR a spoiler is the odd thing to have on a performance car and a wing is the way to go. No, the problem is NASCAR seems to demand that the wing be Black, thus sticking out like a sore thumb on every car with a non-black paint scheme and drawing attention to the fact that "this feature is new and doesn't belong." For fuck's sake, let the teams paint the wings to match their cars and I guarantee half the complaints will evaporate within a race or two. Especially once more teams start using the wing space as sponsor-space like in Formula 1 or Indy.

That's about it. The jury is still out and the design still needs some tweaking, but we have had two rather good finishes with last-lap duels to the finish line - so the car can obviously put on a show. And in the modern world of NASCAR - that's all that matters.

Oh, and I finally realized what the side-view of the Car of Tommorrow reminded me of: