Sunday, April 11, 2010

Phoenix Race Report

I could have stuck with the "spoiled" theme for this race day blog but instead we will go with Snake Bit.  Meet the Brew Crew's team mascot for the weekend...
The guys freaked out a good number of fans and competitors with this little rattler - none better than a crewman on the #20 team - I thought he was going to hit his head on the top of the garage when he found it under Logano's car. Unfortunately, ultimately the joke was on us tonight. Sigh.

A few technical updates learned as we slogged thru inspection yet again today -- we made it thru weight and height sticks no problem this time but still got stuck again in the final inspection station with the car being too wide. Took out the wheel spacers again - but so did JJ so we thought we were in good company at least. This meant that Billy had to run back to the hauler again for tools making me the tool cart girl out to the grid again!

Anyway back to the tidbits. So yes Tez, very astute observation that the spoiler is vertical unlike the previous one and it's specs are finalized by NASCAR. It bolts directly to the lip of the decklid and NASCAR provides special bolts with numbers on them to show it has been approved. The part that will change is above -- the fin along the left side of the rear window and deck lid. For Phoenix and the previous races the fin has been 2.5 inches but for Texas they will increase it to 3.5 inches but the height of the spoiler will not change. Make sense?

While we were going thru inspection, Travis, our rear tire changer was busy modifying his helmet for the night race.   His five dollar fix had nothing on the jack man for the 20 team.   The entire inside lip of his helmet was lit up with LED lights - he looked like he belonged in Vegas.   Travis scoffed at that helmet - easily costing Gibbs upwards of $300 -- because we know you've got to be good, not just flashy!

For once I was actually standing in a good spot for driver intro's and got to high five a few and get some good close ups.    I only got the top 15 or so and here are some of the best shots and blogger favs...
                                                    Lookin' like he owns the place...

A smile!  Clearly not looking at me...

What is up with his haircut??

What happened to my goofy, fun always happy Junebug? 
Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi! Oi! Oi!

And the only shot I got of Kurt today...

So back to being snake bit.  Our race was over on lap 15 when Kurt slid up into Kasey as they were racing to avoid going a lap down early and our night was over.   We pitted about 4x and were able to stay on the lead lap in between fixes but the front end was destroyed.

They couldn't get the fenders off the wheels and had to use some ingenuity to create a tool to pull the sheet metal away.   Larry, Dave and Travis got some random metal bits from the war wagon, used a saw and hammer and rigged up this little contraption (above).  They then attached it to the larger crow bar and we were back in business.   They were able to get the tires changed and the car adjusted and somewhat driveable.   Unfortunately we stayed out too long trying to get into Lucky Dog position and Kurt blew a tire.  It was shredded by the damage a bunch of wire from inside the tire got wrapped all around the duct work and brakes ripping them up.  The guys did their best to pull it away but they ended up having to saw it off as well as replace half the splitter and we lost 8 laps in the process. 
                               (you might be able to see some of the wire off to the top right...)

It made me realize how dangerous their work can be.   Travis was completely under a jacked up car with his head under a red hot wheel and his arms up under the car pulling off broken bits.  Larry and Dave both hurt their hands trying to pull that wire out and they were all exhausted after 10 stops in a row.   Darin our engine tuner and car chief, Jeffrey made several appearances over the wall to help fix the car and Addington was off his box investigating the tires and damage often.  Was bummed to see the broadcast of the race - the guys really did some great patchwork but none of it was on TV - you would think they might actually show some of the "team work" involved but no.  Here are a few shots from the pits...
In the second picture above you might be able to see that silver bar along side the car.  The crew held these on both sides to re-align the wheels for Kurt.

We had an extra man over the wall to help with the bug problem and I just thought this was an extra cool shot of Stretch getting the tear off off!

And here is part of the collection of tools used to fix the Blue Deuce!  Oy our pit was a mess.

We were pitted between Joe Nemechek and Max Papis and it was amazing to see the pits of the start and park/underfunded teams.   We probably had 15 sets of tires - they had two.   They had incomplete pit crews, four guys total in their pit box as far as I counted and Papis went to the garage to get service,  he was only in his pit once.   That is racing on the barest of bones.   But it did afford me two good spots to watch the race since no one was in those pits next to us about half way thru the race!  LOL

Ok, pop quiz...what is different about these tires?

Well you might have noticed the wheels are not our Miller Lite yellow.  As soon as Kurt was out of the race we gave away all of our "stickers" to the 77 and 12 teams and took the scuffs from the 12.  The crew had to re-prep the scuffs and re-glue the lugs so they were a busy bunch on Saturday night. 

Another change mid-race was our rear tire changer.   Travis was sent to the 12 team to change tires after their guy got sick.    He came to our pit since our stops didn't really matter anymore.  Mostly he sat by a trash can waiting to throw up...but held it together!  LOL

We thought for sure the late caution was going to hand JJ the win.  Newman winning seemed to go over well with the fans.   He almost nailed a few of the photographers when he hit the inside track wall doing his burnouts....

And look-ie who I ran into heading to Victory Lane...for being the winning owner I've got to say he didn't look to happy at the time.  Maybe it was me...

And finally, it wouldn't be a Phoenix race report without me hiding behind a cactus in Victory least it wasn't JJ but one day I would really love it to be Kurt and the Brew Crew!!

Thanks for reading!  Next garage report hopefully coming to you from Sonoma...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Phoenix Friday Garage Report

A spoiler can be defined in many ways...yes we have a "new" (old) addition to the car that is looking mighty slapped welded together for the moment as NASCAR fine tunes the specs.   Didn't realize how much I disliked the wing until it was gone. 
Then we have Superman who is spoiling the entire we see JJ and super evil genius Knaus passing the secret "black portfolio" on the way to their team meeting in the 24 hauler after qualifying.   I am pretty sure Chad was passing it to Jimmie so he wouldn't have to share its contents with the other crew chiefs with the hope that the drivers wouldn't make head or tails of the jibberish within.  Forget lugs (and cookies), we have a new target - get on the storyline SpeedBeagle!

And finally we have just plain spoiled rotten - as in my dad spent lots of money so I can race cars - but yet somehow is in the top 12 in points.  

Oops!  Didn't mean to put that picture of Junior in there (BTW talk about spoiling a beautiful face - ugh that beard is worse in person!)

No no no, I was talking about Mr. Menard.

Enough spoilage?   Moving I was working on my psychological voodoo trying to perfect "getting in the drivers heads."  Naturally, I had to try my stuff out on Smoke first.   I stood for much of the practices right behind Kurt's garage stall, which just happened to be the spot that Smoke would see in his rear view mirror as he backed out of his stall a few garages down.   After getting a mirror full of that pumpkin-headed Miller Lite girl starring him down for nearly 3 hours he finally succumbed - as Smoke pulled out for his final run in Happy Hour he smacked Bowyer's tool cart with his right front fender sending the tool cart skidding off nearly ramming some photographers and bashing in his fender.  I am no Yoda, but I might be onto something!   Sadly, I have no pictures of the crash so I'll just give you one of Jabba the Hutt instead.
Here we have Da Biff playing the role of Obi Wan as he counsels young Luke (aka Kasey) on how best to lay down a fast lap in the desert.

Speaking of Dancing with the Star Wars - nope, sorry no Helio, I am still waiting to Mambo with him but instead I had a lovely exchange with our 3rd place qualifer, Sam Hornish who was quite pleased with his quick step today.   Interesting to note, some have speculated that the engine and mechanical problems the 77 team has had this year could be due to over-revving the engine in the pits.  Its an IRL thing apparently and hard to unlearn. 
Someone who is not going to be dancing anytime soon is last week's winner  and someone who I hope you did not pick on your Fantasy team this week.  The Hamster is clearly hobbled - Casey Mears traded off with him several times in practice but Denny qualified the #11.  Seems he was none too pleased with is effort as he came screaming into the garages and fishtailed it into his garage stall stopping on a dime in the nick of time.  Shockingly no one bothered him for autographs as he limped his way to his hauler.

And in honor of Kurt Busch Nation - finally your Kurt and Brew crew updates for the day!   First, atta'boys went all around for their recent efforts.  In response on how best to represent in the stands - wear Miller Lite gear, drink Miller Lite, have fun and cheer loud!  
Kurt was in good spirits today.  The car was fast in race trim and we knew we would have to pass some cars after pulling the 2nd qualifying spot.   Kurt and Eva spent their off weekend in St. Lucia while I believe Steve Addington was in St. Thomas.   So they are coming into this race weekend relaxed and ready to go. 

Unfortunately, we had a few problems getting through inspection so we were really late getting out to the grid today.  Above is the team pow-wow deciding how best to make adjustments on the width of the car in order to pass.   Billy had to run back to the garages so I was the unofficial tool cart girl again pulling it all the way down pit road.  We were so late that Kurt jumped in the car after the final inspection spot and got pushed out to the grid.  It was a little frantic to get the car ready to go but all in all they were pleased with the effort.  
Word on the street is that Roger will be in attendance on race day and last but not least a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Stump - our  hauler driver who turns 57 today.   Being soaked with Miller Lite in Victory Lane is better than cake right?