Race Weekend Central

Harry Scott, Jr. Owner Diary: Victory Lane, Tires and Rain

Welcome back to another edition of Harry Scott, Jr.‘s owner diary. With a busy schedule and drivers across the board, from K&N all the way to the Sprint Cup Series, Scott always has plenty to say. This week, he looks back on the last couple of races, tires, rain delays and so much more.

Looking back at Fontana, Kyle Larson’s victory in the Nationwide Series was pretty great, and the same day Ben Rhodes won the Greenville K&N race, so that was a solid day. I haven’t seen Ben’s race yet, but I was really proud of Kyle and how he didn’t let Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch rattle him at the end of the event. Larson just stayed on his line that he knew was fastest, and he didn’t fault them trying to fake him out. He outran them fair and square. It was really good for him to burst that win bubble in the Nationwide Series. Obviously, I think he’s got more in him this year — he and Scott Zipadelli and those guys have gelled really well as a team. Ben Rhodes lost one there at Bristol when he got run up the track, and he was due when he got his win at Greenville.

Tires were a pretty big topic at Fontana. I think Goodyear’s tire was fine at Martinsville, though. They fell off at Martinsville just like they should. The first long run we had there, Justin Allgaier had a really worn left-rear tire. Justin could actually feel it and knew it was his left rear that was running out. It wasn’t corded; it had a little bit of wear indicators on it. From my perspective, we didn’t have any problem at all other than wear. At a place like that, driving style and car setup is such a big part of how the tires are going to hold up.

After tires were an issue at Fontana, they were less of a storyline for Martinsville Speedway.
After tires were an issue at Fontana, they were less of a storyline for Martinsville Speedway.

Rain has been one of the biggest issues of the season so far this year, and everyone is under the same rules when it comes to rain delays. The disadvantage, though, is for the rookies. A great example is Justin at Martinsville. He had never made any laps at Martinsville other than practice and trying to qualify in the Truck Series a couple years ago. When you go to a race like that with a rookie, and your practices are canceled, I feel like it affects the rookies more because they need the practice more. That’s the most frustrating thing about the rain delays — it’s not the boredom, sitting around or trying to reschedule everything. It’s a nuisance, obviously, but the hard part is when you lose practice time for the drivers that don’t have the experience others do. It widens the gap a bit when that happens.

With that said, this year just seems to be a particularly tough weather start to the year. We’ve actually been very fortunate the last couple years and gotten lucky with the weather. The odds are just catching up to us. We dodged a bullet at Bristol, though. It would have really put us behind the eight ball if we’d had to race on Monday there before trying to get all the way to California. From a team perspective, that’s really high risk. Hopefully, with the new track-drying system and everything else NASCAR’s worked on, they can get them going quicker and have less delays, even given the same amount of rain.

Looking back at the Truck Series at Martinsville, Ben Rhodes had a great debut, but the conversations looking forward to next season when he’ll be old enough to race in the series full-time probably won’t start until the end of April, early May. Ben Kennedy backed up his impressive fourth-place finish there last fall with a third-place finish this week. Brandon Jones had his career-best finish with a top 15. Ron Hornaday had another great run for us, with a ninth, and I know the team is working on getting him in the truck full-time. Right now, it’s a race-by-race deal. We appreciate Rheem hopping on board to help us get to Daytona and Martinsville, and we’re working on some other options to go along with Rheem to get him to where he can run a full season. It’s definitely a work in progress, and I’m hoping we can continue to do so. In fact, one of our selling points is that Hornaday would be a championship contender if he can run full time.

We’re coming into another long break in the Truck Series before they’re back on track again. Having the breaks have been beneficial in allowing us to prepare better. The guys know the summer stretch is coming, so we’re preparing for that now. Nobody is going to complain about not having anything to do. We’ll go do a little testing and the K&N kids that are running our trucks will have some races and be on track. If you’re just strictly a Truck Series driver, I understand the frustration of the driver not wanting to just sit for that long. It’s probably harder on the driver than anyone else.

Looking over at the Cup Series, we’ve already got six different winners in six different races. It’s probably a combination of several things, including the level of competition and the new rules package. The new rules package was designed to create more passing and to keep the car that got out front from just running away from the rest of the field in clean air. I do think it also has to do with NASCAR policing among the manufacturers to keep the playing field a little more level. In the end,NASCAR is a business of fractions, thousandths of inches and hundredths of seconds. If you get enough hundredths of seconds, you’ve all of a sudden gotten a tenth of a second, and I think it’s things like that help give us a diversity of winners. Of course, it’s still early and that trend could change once we get to more mile-and-a-half tracks.

Overall, I’m pretty pleased how things are going across the board from K&N all the way to Cup, and it certainly keeps me busy. One thing I know for sure: I don’t think you ever stop learning because there’s always so much to learn.

ATHLON SPORTS (SMITH) – Justin Allgaier Q&A: Aggressive racing, dirt vs. asphalt and a failed Roush tryout

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