Race Weekend Central

Fanning the Flames: Montoya’s Tach, Elliott’s Oil & the Revenge of the Pony Cars

With apologies to my colleagues here on Frontstretch, the column everyone should be reading this week (actually, every week) is by Dr. Diandra Leslie-Pelecky at StockCarScience.com. It shines light on many of the reasons it’s easy to speed on pit road, what role rpms, gears and the transmission play, and why simply installing a speedometer wouldn’t necessarily solve the problem.

It appears I’m more the Tip Guy than the Answer Guy this week. With that, we’ll get on to the topics.

And speaking of speeding on pit road, that’s where we start, as MontoyaMan is in for a second consecutive week.

Q: I wrote you too soon. I can’t believe Juan Pablo Montoya got tagged for speeding with a five-second lead!! I don’t think there was any conspiracy to it (I’m not a sore loser – I’ll be classy like Juan was), but damn, did that hurt! Looking for a rebound at Pocono! – MontoyaMan

A: Smarts, huh? Agreed on the conspiratorial angle. In fact, the only cries of black helicopters and such have been pre-emptive strikes from the media shooting down theories I’d honestly not even heard mentioned by the fans (gotta write about something, I guess).

See also
Thompson in Turn 5: Conspiracy Theories Nobody's Fault but NASCAR's

And it’s not just the print media, either. Every two-bit talking head was shooting down invisible and unmade cries of “race fixing” they assumed would rise from the fanbase following JPM’s heavy right foot. If you watched any NASCAR programming on Monday, you know what and who I’m talking about. However, I talk to fans every day; office buddies, close friends, Tweeters, emails from you guys, and not once were allegations made against NASCAR. The folks I talked to – the fans on the street – once again proved more intelligent than the media or the networks give them credit for.

As per our discussion last week, MM, Juan didn’t do himself any favors with the first-to-11th tumble. In fact, he gave away 50 points in the process. He’d be seventh in the standings sans the speeding violation right now, just seven points out of sixth. Instead, he continues to scratch and claw, sporting a 100-point buffer between he and 13th-place David Reutimann.

Pocono and Michigan need to be very kind to him. Sorry, but I’m still not sold.

Q: Even I have to admit the Mustang Nationwide CoT looks pretty slick. If NA$CAR feels it must go spec across the board, it could be worse than the pony cars. Are the chassis remaining the same for the cars… just with new bodies? And are we still looking for Camaros, Challengers and whatever the hell passes for a pony car from Toyota? – Ken Eaton

A: The Mustang does look pretty damn sharp, as Jayski revealed to us all a couple days ago. Although, as a Photoshop guy I can tell you that photo is doctored up big time, so we’ll see what the final version looks like. But hey, at least Ford learned from NASCAR’s CoT faux pas when pics hit the net and racing fans from South Boston to Sonoma first realized how far NASCAR intended to further distance this sport from its roots.

As for the chassis of the Nationwide CoT, it will be pretty close to the Cup cars – they’re even going to a 110” wheelbase. And while Ford is in the approval process for the Mustang, I hear that Chevy is balking at the Camaro. Evidently, the same folks that ran GM into the ground are still calling the shots, because I’m hearing they continue to push for their Impala model instead.

See also
What's Vexing Vito: Chevrolet Dropping New Camaro and the Ball for Nationwide Series in 2010

It’s like I’ve said before: An Impala is the car my Grandma drives to the grocery. It’s not racy and it’s certainly not a hot rod… so the question begs, “Why market it to race fans?” Something to do with cross-sections, demographics and bottom lines, I suppose.

In contrast, the new Camaros are B-A-D bad (that coming from a Mustang guy) and would certainly appeal to the racing set – not to mention help the Nationwide Series establish that “identity” that we all like to harp on about. And as for Dodge and Toyota, the Challenger would be the choice (if Dodge carries on with its Nationwide program at all) of the former, while that testament to Japanese ’60s-era muscle car innovation, the classic Camry, would be the pick for the latter.

Q: Matt, I haven’t been able to find out what happened to my boy Elliott Sadler at Indy. One lap with the new engine and it’s back to the garage? Can you fill me in, please? The media doesn’t report on the No. 19. It’s not the Nos. 48, 88 or 24. – Jeremy (aka, ESad’s Man)

A: Jeremy, I was informed by a member of the No. 19 team that a bad O-ring was the cause of the oil leak, which started on the pace laps. Since they were running a brand-spanking new Dodge R6P8 engine (their first with the new piece), they didn’t want to take a chance blowing the thing sky high, so they pulled it into the garage to diagnose the problem.

The good news? By coming back out to finish, Sadler extended his streak of races without a DNF to 43 – if that really means anything anymore.

Q: A lot of people are happy to see Kyle [Busch] hit on hard times. I’m in the minority being a Kyle fan. I think they’ll get it turned around and make the Chase, but it brings up the question of whether drivers with a race win should get in the Chase automatically or if race wins should be worth more points to insure a driver with three or four wins that doesn’t have the points gets in the Chase. Multiple wins proves to me a team is deserving. – Jason Grey, California

A: Valid points. My take: The top-10 drivers in the points standings get what is in essence an at-large bid. Further, any full-time driver that isn’t in the top 10 but has scored a win gets an automatic bid. No set number… get in on merit.

Talk about crazy late-race strategies that would come into play under that system… Rodney Childers would be one in-demand crew chief all of a sudden. That qualification system also helps teams in need of sponsorship dollars. Say a team and/or driver like the No. 43 and Reed Sorenson or the No. 26 and Jamie McMurray “strategize” their way into victory lane – you don’t think that would help on all fronts for both the team and the driver?

Seems a healthy way to go about things to me.

To finish off, here’s a Twitter update from last week: Juan Pablo is up from 11,520 to 14,563 followers. Yours truly is hot on his heels… up from 24 to 26. Don’t worry, I’m sandbagging.

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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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