Monday, May 14, 2007
What is wrong with the 19 team?
an objective look.
For years I have been concerned about Elliott Sadler's 'focus issues' as the season wears on, and this season is no different. Maybe it is time to lay off the Trackside Live appearances, the radio shows, car dealership commercials and other non sponsored driver signings and spend a little more time trying to understand how to make the 19 car go faster and turn left better. The driver still needs to be more grounded, and show better communication skills to his team when asked specific question.
For example, late in the race at Darlington yesterday, after countless changes to the car and countless reactions ranging from, 'this is by far the loosest race car I have ever driven (this is about the 4th week in a row we have heard this), to 'Tight, Tight, Tight!', Sadler was asked by his Crew Chief, just what one single problem needs to be change the most to might the car faster? Sadler answered with close to a minute long convoluted answer ranging from fixing the 'tight middle', to fixing a little bit with the loose off, then ending with the loose entering the corning problem. So with that answer, Sadler is basically saying that the whole car in the corners were the single most problem, in other words, he needs EVERYTHING fixed. That to me is the difference between many very successful teams, and the driver of the 19 car. The ability to prioritize the handling problems with the car, instead of simple listing all the problems in no special order.
the Crew Chief:
Much of this season, it seems that especially early in races, wholesale changes are being made to the chassis. While these changes maybe warranted, the problem lies with the number of individual changes made per stop and how the car is reacting to those changes. (could be contributed by the driver wanting all handling problems fixed at once) Some help, while other hurt the handling, but the problem lies in fully understanding which is which? How many times have we seen the 19 make changes, only to reverse those same changes two stops later. Is this all that CC's fault? Maybe, maybe not, as Sadler has been quoted before this season began that he was responsible for making the chassis change calls during the race. That being said, it is time for the 19 CC to take a more active and firmer hand on the 19 driver. Make the changes based on the feedback from the driver, live with them, and adjust those changes on the next stop. As sited above, Sadler has a tendency to want everything to be fixed in one 16 second pit stop. That simply is not always realistic. The 19 CC needs to understand that and force the driver to prioritize his feed back.
the pit crew:
Really this crew has been as consistent as one could ask for. Very few mistakes during stops week in week out contributing positively to the over-all performance of the team.
Another consistent contributor to the team. Even to the point of adding his two cents on 'in race' strategy which has helped the team's results. However, yesterday over the scanners I heard something that I had not heard before. With the 19 car being the first car a lap down, and about to be passed by the leader, we heard the 19 spotter after seeing another car brush the wall, tell the CC to make the 'plea for debris' to Nascar race control. Understand that this is coming from a person who is standing above the press box and within a split second, seems to be able to see this over a half mile away.
Now we all know what the 19 spotter was doing, and that there was very little chance that he could see if there was actual debris on the track that somehow Nascar could not see. But the fact that he is pleading for a debris caution in order to benefit his team doesn't help the position of 'phantom debris' calls tin foil hat theories. We heard this plea on two different occasions from the 19 spotter, and he is batting .500 for his efforts. Now I am not faulting these efforts in any way, as the 19 spotter is simply 'playing the game' and trying to help his team be successful. But be careful when wearing another hat and criticizing Nascar for 'timely debris cautions' that doesn't benefit his team that we have heard over the scanner a few times this season.
the Shop crew:
Sadler himself said just a few short months ago that he had personally saw that the 19 shop crew "stays ahead of the learning curve better than anybody I've ever been around. They're not going to let anything slip through the cracks. They're going to get every ounce of engineering help and speed out of their car every week. These guys are ahead of the learning curve. Not only are they preparing for the races three weeks from now, they're preparing for things happening a couple of years from now."
If truly was the case, then little blame could be placed on the 19's performance this year, but practice speeds have shown that many times the 19 was slow off the truck, and seemingly not prepared.
So what is really wrong with the 19 team? Will, there are alot of items that could be addressed that might help this team. But the real problem might be that the 19 team as a whole does not have a history of being a consistent top tier team. One can sugar coat this all they want, but simply put, the 19 is running like a mid-pack team. Looking on the bright side though, it could be worse, and the 19 team has improved greatly from this point in time last season, but there is still lots of room for improvement throughout this race team before they can say they will compete week in, week out.
Only time will tell but there really maybe nothing 'wrong' with the 19 team. Simply put, the 19 team and almost everything associated with it, is just very average which gets you consistent high teen results most weeks. Considering the competition around them, there is nothing wrong with that though.