Race Weekend Central

Fanning the Flames: Marching to Martinsville with Goodyears in Tow

Peaks of jubilation and valleys of heartbreak. Devotion. Sacrifice. Harrowing escapes, crushing defeats, and glorious victories. Good choices and bad… and it all equates to 46 wins, 13th on the all-time list.

No, this isn’t the gritty tale of the ageless Elzie Wylie Baker Sr., better known to us as “Buck.” Yes, Buck Baker makes for a great story. The South Carolina native was the first driver to win back-to-back Grand National championships, recorded 46 career wins and, ironically enough (for the sake of this story) sits 13th on the all-time NASCAR wins list. Buck provided Jeff Gordon his first ride in a stock car at his “Buck Baker Racing School,” has been inducted into nearly every motorsports Hall of Fame in America and was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998.

No, this is not the story of a tough-as-nails short-tracker that fought his way up the ranks in NASCAR’s more formative years. It’s the story of my NCAA Tournament bracket. Yep. 46 wins so far… sitting 13th with a bullet.

What does this have to do with NASCAR? Absolutely nothing. I just thought the numbers, especially for a guy who loves the numbers game, were too eerily similar to not mention, especially when two of this writers’ passions intersect.

Anyway, as a Kentucky fan that has already suffered through his roughest winter since 1990, I guess it’s only appropriate that I find myself rooting for UCLA, Kansas and North Carolina in order to win my pool. It’s called humility, and we all need a dose of it every now and then.

Q: When NASCAR spent those years designing this new car, did they ever think to test tires, too? It designs a car that weighs more, has a higher center of gravity, and a front end that won’t turn… and it didn’t stop to consider that it just might need to go to a different tire? Maybe a bigger tire? Maybe something different than is appropriate for the Nationwide cars? Seems as if Goodyear got put in a bad spot here, caught between the drivers and NASCAR. – SallyB

A: I’ve been singing this same tune for a month now, Sally. Drivers, media and fans have all been quick to dump their frustrations on Goodyear when there is a little blame to sprinkle around between the sanctioning body, the teams and, yes, the exclusive tire manufacturer of the sport.

Your idea that NASCAR should have worked conjointly with Goodyear throughout the development phase of the CoT holds merit. If a wider tire was necessary, which would solve a lot of the teams’ woes, then so be it. Formula 1 cars run a front tire that is two inches wider than a Cup cars’… and the considerably lighter F1 machines aren’t forced to hold a load on two tires for as long either. Factor in the insane camber settings… these tires must be running on a strip of rubber a half-inch thick down the straightaways!… and geeked up rear-spring settings, and it’s a recipe for the perfect storm.

Q: There is so much talk about tires lately. My question is, why don’t NASCAR tires have tread? I’m know there is a reason, but I’ve never heard it addressed. Thanks! – Texas Jake

A: This is one of those “been that way for so long it’s taken for granted” topics. The answer is pretty simple, actually. Tires are made of a rubber compound, which gets “tacky” at higher temperatures. Racing tires have no tread, so more of the tire’s available surface is in constant contact with the track. More contact equals more grip; in short, bald tires stick better.

Good luck to your Horns, Jake. I need them to win, too.

Q: Why can’t Jack Roush quit bashing on Toyota? Toyota is in the sport and will be here for good. No amount of complaining, accusing, and whining to NASCAR is going to make them go away. I don’t really care for Toyota being in the sport, and am now on the fence because I’m a Tony Stewart guy. I will always like Tony, but can’t wait for him to sign back with a Chevy team when his contract is up at the end of 2008.

Oh, and one other thing, Jack. If you are so sure of what Toyota team took your little tool, why not just come out and name them?! We sure would all love to hear! – TG in Indy

A: Easy, big fella. Deep breaths, now. I’m no lawyer, but I’d imagine that if Jack were to start naming names, he would face a lawsuit courtesy of the accused (slander is such a nasty word). That, and he’s going to have to present some hard evidence if he intends to take this issue further.

See also
Full Throttle: Roush Continues Grudge Match With Toyota... But That's All It Is

This story has some growing to do before anyone outside of 4606 Roush Place learns exactly what’s going on. Until then, keep the faith TG.

Alright, that’s it for this week; enjoy the nuclear pink hot dogs this weeks, everyone. Speaking of which, a co-worker from Wisconsin gave me a great bratwurst marinade that’s too easy not to try: Marinade your choice of brat in a pan of beer and sliced onions overnight, then cook on a grill or over a campfire. I tried it last weekend at the lake and am a changed man.

About the author

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The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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