There is only ONE Oklahoma

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Three races in, and what do we know?

In all honesty, we don’t know much that can be used when the Chase comes around some 23 races from now. But you can make a few observations:

Ratings are up
For the third week in a row the overnight TeVee ratings are up from last year. I guess all those fans that vowed never to watch a race again are sneaking peaks now and then.

Speaking of TeVee
Thanks to CawsnJaws.com we see that 76% of the Las Vegas race was broadcast. Compared to 74% in 2007, 76% in 2003 and 76% in 2002. Looks as though the commercial break time for Nascar broadcasts at least for Las Vegas has pretty much been the status quo.

It was Interference PA!
Remember the Mayberry episode where Opie is playing touch football with Mrs. Crump’s niece and the niece intercepts on of Opie’s passes? ‘It was pass interference Pa!’ When the TeVee cameraman got in the way of the tire catcher for the 99 team midway through the race, cause a tire to roll across pit road. After reviewing Nascar felt that had the cameraman not got in the way, the normal result would have been for the tire to find it’s rightful place. This is not much different from ‘fan interference’ in Major League Baseball where in the umpire’s judgment, a fan or any other person who is not an actual participant of the game, interferes with a play. The umpire can award runners additional bases, call runners out or pretty much do what ever he thinks would have been the result of the play had the interference not occurred. Nascar did the same thing in the case of the 99 and it was the right thing to do.

Then there is post race inspection
Now this is where things could get interesting. The 99 fails post race inspection for having what Nascar called a ‘missing’ an oil reservoir casing cap. This is slightly more serious then the five Nationwide teams who were fined and docked points for having these caps ‘not properly fastened’. The question for Nascar will be are these two incidences related?

Side bar:
To make matters worse for the 99, it was revealed that the 99 also had an ‘issue’ with the front fenders after the California win. Nascar brushed this off as a ‘gray area’, but I have to wonder just what was the difference from the 99’s wheel wells, and the 24/48’s from Sonoma last year that cost both 100 points/$100,000/6 week CC suspension.

Another great start:
Like most years we are seeing another great start for Elliott Sadler and the 19 team. Still I have to hold back my enjoyment, as this could be just another aberration seen in previous seasons. For example, just last year, Sadler finished 6th at Daytona, 24th at Caly, and 14th at LV. Sounds familiar? It probably does as Sadler has finished 6th (Daytona), 24th (Caly) and 12th (LV) this year, and we all know how last year turned out. And if you really want to queue the ‘Twilight Zone’ music, in 2006 his finishes in the first three races were 4th (Daytona) 24th (Caly) and 14th (LV). Do do do do do do do do doooooooooo.

Speaking of the ‘Southern Gentleman’
Sadler was guilty of what he later found out to be a ‘half a mile an hour’ over the pit road speed limit early in the LV race. The ‘scoring loops’ don’t lie, but I will say that one of the justifications presented over the 19 scanner for ‘Spotterman’ made a lot of sense. Because the 19 was not the only car hit for speeding on entry, (the 2 & 16) during the same stops Griffin made the comment that the ‘1st pace car speeds must have been messed up and others didn’t get a good reading’. The 2, 16, and 19 were all in the first pace group before the race, and gauged their RPM based on the same pace car. But I will say that there was much confusion on the 19 team, agreeing with a good pace speed as Sadler originally claimed that pace speed was ‘3950 (rpms) 2nd gear’, while the Crew Chief claimed the engineers calculated the pace rpms to be in the 3700 range (rpms) in 2nd gear. When it was all said and done, the 19 went with a 3850 (rpms) in 2nd gear, and that proved to be just a tad over.

Never the less, the 19 was able to hang in there and catch a ‘lucky’ caution getting that much needed lap back, and came away with a nice finish. However, I still believe that Nascar needs to come up with a better solution to gauging pit road speeds BEFORE race day. Maybe have the pit stall traps set up during practice as well, so teams can monitor their speeds? Or at the end of practices, have an addition 10 minutes where team’s can run through the pits a hand full of times, clocking pit road speeds. It has to be better than a ‘one time shot’ on the back stretch hoping to ‘match’ the pace car speeds.

1 comment:

Snafam said...

Actually, it was not just the first group of pace lap cars that were wrestling with their calculations vs. the actual 'pace car' speed. I heard the 38 team discussing the same issue. The 38 was in the second group for the pit road speed lap.

However, the 38 did not have any speeding penalties.