Tuesday, August 25, 2009

That's Debatable - Chasing Kyle Busch

I realize I have not been able to write much on my own blog lately and am vowing for that to change.  I am working on a few blogging ideas that lend themselves to more consistent posting and that are not solely focused on the Brew Crew (although I will continue to bring you the inside scoop when I can).

As we all know, the world of NASCAR is ripe with controversies, opinions, and heated discussions and I hope to highlight some of them here and get your take on it.

So without further ado, onto this week's THAT'S DEBATABLE! 

WHO: Kyle Busch, aka "The Show", "Thorn", "Rowdy" or "Shrub" and public enemy numero uno to Junior Nation, Brian Vickers Nation (albeit a small, peaceful nation) or pretty much anyone Kyle is racing around.

When the checkered flag flies, you will find Kyle either taking a bow (4 times this year) or confronting a fellow driver and stomping off avoiding the media.   Love him or hate him, with the #18 team there is no in between.

WHAT:  The Chase for the Championship is only two races away and Kyle sits 34 points out of the 12th and final spot in the Chase. 

SO WHAT?  It is possible that Kyle could enter The Chase seeded first (or nearly so) based on his number of wins this season or he could be the first driver with four wins to not make The Chase.

Many fans believe Brian France took away all incentive  for the top teams to race for wins by creating The Chase resulting in a less-than-entertaining sport of points racing.  Clearly, as Kyle's situation demonstrates, it pays to be a top 15 finisher every race rather than going "wreckers or checkers."

I have seen many articles, blogs and tweets already bemoaning the fact we are heading into a part of the season where only a few drivers will actually be racing and the rest will be "playing it safe."   The Chase has become a game of who can avoid problems not who wins the most races.

Now many of you will say, wait Kristen - the Cup Championship used to highly reward consistency not wins, so what's the diff? 

You tell me.

Seems unlikely The Chase is going away and I for one am a fan of going for broke and getting the win.   So how I see it, the only way to get any excitement into The Chase this year is to root against Kyle.  Even better, what if he misses The Chase by a mere point or two, triggering monumental frustration which results in him driving like a drunk hummingbird, taking it four-wide every opportunity and spanking the field as he runs away with win after win.   What if he ends up with more wins than the Champ and racks up more points than anyone else in the last 10 races?  Then what Brian?

So, The Chase for the Championship is neither a chase nor a championship....Discuss

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Shocking, Isn't It?

In my never-ending quest to try to report about what actually goes on in the NASCAR garages, I bring you the shocking story of the procedure the rear-end shocks move through on race weekend. My partner in crime is none other than Luke Cunnington, our very own Miller Lite Dodge Shock Specialist. Luke was kind enough to let me follow him from the moment he removed the shocks from the car to when he turned them into NASCAR to finally getting them back on the Blue Deuce on Sunday.

To make this all the more shocking you get to watch it, not just read about it! But you'll still have to deal with me and my cheesy questions...

To start, here is Luke previewing the procedure with the rear-end shocks.

In this next video clip, we have moved into the Miller Lite hauler where Luke explains the difference between shocks on a road course vs. an oval and then shows us the shock dyno. (sorry for the rough edits!)

This video clip shows just a bit of the shock dyno working and then Luke explains the output on the computer. It is difficult to see the computer screen but essentially there is a graph with two curving lines that curve away from one another. So not only do these guys wrench on the cars, they do need a lot of computer knowledge as well to keep themselves on the cutting edge of the technology of speed.

Here Luke shows off the uber-organized shock cabinet in the Miller Lite hauler. I have found all the Penske haulers would put my closet to shame. Luke said it is imperative to have the shocks easy to find especially when they need to change them out quickly during practice.

And here you get a better flavor of how packed in the haulers are with crew members and equipment. Luke completes the process with the shocks in the hauler by removing all the air pressure from them and discusses how some teams abused shocks to get an advantage.

Finally, in this video clip we head over to the NASCAR Shock inspection station. Every team must have their shocks inspected, tagged and stored here before the garage closes.

On race day, the Brew Crew gets the car tuned as they want it and then pushes the car through inspection. The first inspection station they arrive at is always the shock station. Here they find the same inspectors from the night before with their tagged shocks. They cut the yellow tie off them and Luke usually has Stretch (aka Eric Bailey, the general mechanic on the No. 2 car) put them back in the car. Sadly, I don't have the picture of Stretch under the car so this will have to do.

Hope you enjoyed following the Miller Lite shocks around the garage -- Thanks to Luke and the officials for letting me document this on video and film!

And as always...thanks for reading!