There is only ONE Oklahoma

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Catching Up

The 2nd quarter is now behind us and financials have been submitted in preparation for the semi annual SOX. Audit. So the past couple of weeks have been spent more on the ‘real job’ end than the blogger end. So I have a few items that need catching up.

The Queen of NASCAR Physics:
Rumor has it that Diandra Leslie-Pelecky, fondly called by some bloggers as the ‘Queen of NASCAR Physics’ will be in Daytona this weekend shadowing the 19 team and driver Elliott Sadler for a postscript to her book in preparation for the paper back release. Chances are she will also be spending some time with former 19 crew chief, Josh Browne and giving us some insight to the success of the 83 and 84 Red Bull team. They have really turned things around and it will be interesting to his take on how things are going. And I am sure she will want to have a visit with Rodney Childers to hear how the recent surge for the 19 team has effected the team's attitude as well. Not the "Driver's Speak" quotes we read week in and week out, but the real nuts and bolts of how the team is doing.

Another charity scam?
Here we go again! Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has charged former NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series owner Gene Christiansen and others with misuse of charitable funds, alleging that they diverted money from People Against Drugs Affordable Public Housing, Inc., to pay Christiansen’s salary, support the Green Light Racing Craftsman Truck Series team. Now I have read both the court filings and the Charity’s tax forms from the time in question and it will be interesting to see just how this suit plays out. Either Christainsen was ignorant of the law when it comes to charitable organizations or he was simply an idiot or arrogant, as he did little to mask where these charitable funds were going. This suit could (and should) be a wake up call to any charitable organization that ‘helps’ out even some poor local racer who also happens to be a member of the organization, in trade for of few privileges or peaks for the charity’s hierarchy. Charitable funds going for a ‘set of tires’, just might not be the most legal thing to do these days even though said organization’s logo is somewhere on the car (no matter how big or small). I wonder if the RED Cross is buying tires for Greg Biffle and the 16 team in exchange for a logo on the B post. Chances are, that answer is NO. More to come on this subject as it develops.

Anatomy of a ‘top 5’

It wasn’t 30 minutes after the ‘checkered’ flag of last Sunday’s Loudon race did my mail box begin to fill with the ‘how about that 19 finish’ emails. I think to be fair; one really should break down the race into a couple of different segments and the decisions made in those segments.

The beginning of the race, showed the 19 with a good starting position near the front of the field. ‘Track position’ was not a factor, but within the first 75 laps, the 19 car found itself falling back to the mid 20s. So much for track position, but more importantly, the 19 had missed something in the race day setup. Since Sadler first joined GEM over two years ago, the ‘two tire stop’ or ‘gas only stop’ has been a huge player. Now in some cases this is a good strategy, however too often the 19’s car handling before the stop was not to the driver’s liking. What seems to happen is that more times than not, is a two-tire stop along with some sort of chassis/air pressure change. The problem with doing that is now the 19 team has lost their baseline for latter four tire stops and chassis changes. When Sadler dropped into the mid 20s, the first words out of his mouth was ‘track position’, while CC Rodney Childers seemed to be leaning towards ‘fixing the car’. Childers lost that battle with Sadler, and went for the 2-tire ‘track position’ stop. The gamble didn’t pay off even before leaving pit road, as 20+ other cars had the same idea. Understand, I would have had little issue had the 19 been running good lap times, but this obviously was not the case. The result of this move, like so many times before, is the 19 falling a lap down before the 100 lap mark and no baseline for which direction to go with chassis changes. And 'take a drink' with the 'This is the worst the car has been all weekend' line from the driver.

But after the 19 fell a lap down, there was a change in strategy and one that seems to make the 19 car better with each stop. First, was the ‘communication factor’ between Sadler and Childers. Seems Sadler was self admittedly not being as clear as he could with his handling descriptions of the 19. (Where have we heard this before?) Once this communication issue seemed to be solve, the 19 made some changes that obviously improved the car (all four tire stops BTW). One other point needed to make, is that Sadler also changed his line coming out of turn four and as spotter Brett Griffin noticed, ‘you are killing them out of four’. After a few more cautions the 19 was able to get the Lucky Dog with 90 or so laps left in the race and now had a car that truly could run with the top 10. This was seen by marching through the mid-pack field with ease and the ever optimistic Griffin saying, ‘one a lap, go get em’.

At this point the 19 made the risky call of staying out (with a good car) and either hoping for a few race-ending cautions (not uncommon at Loudon) to stretch the fuel mileage out, or for the weather to shorten the race. Now some might think I am being hypocritical or short sighted because I feel this move was a brilliant move by the 19 team and condemning the ‘two tire stops’ from earlier in the race. The difference to me is that the 19 late in the race, was a ‘contender’ and it was not in the first 100 laps. Also the success of the 5 car staying out earlier in the race when they also had a good handling car didn’t hurt the decision either.

Did the 19 have enough fuel to go the 301 laps? Doesn’t really matter now. I guess if one can chalk up some of the recent ‘bad’ finishes to bad luck, one can chalk this one up to good luck. But I think that is a bit of simpleton thinking. There was much more involved with this finish than just luck. Next week’s plate race will have move luck involved in getting a top 5 than the one we saw at Loudon.

The Countdown begins:
Less than 60 days to the home opener for Oklahoma Sooners Football! This is going to be a very interesting year in College Football and maybe one with more balance among the top 25 than ever. My early prediction is the BCS NC game will feature both teams with one or more losses. But never the less, the countdown to football season has begun.



Anonymous said...

I read this quote on an SI Blog

"Elliott Sadler, please do not brag about your great day."

No kidding, even a blind dog finds a bone somedays.

I can't believe its less than two months till football season.

Anonymous said...

Phil, in all fairness, Rodney was not on his A game Sunday. First he admits, when Sadler fell back so far, that he went the wrong way on the adjustments. Communication problem of the driver, but if I'm in charge of making changes, I'd make damn sure I was clear as to what the problem was.

Then, once he got back on the lead lap and was passing cars, Rodney told Elliott to conserve fuel. Elliott asked if he should race the guys around him and Rodney told him "no" so the 3 cars that he had passed went by him. A little while later Rodney came back and said to go ahead and race, they would be 8 laps short. Thankfully the rain came and we never had to worry about fuel; moot point but there is no way they would've made it; but had Rodney decided earlier to just go for it and not let the 3 cars they had just gotten past pass them, they would have finished 2nd, not

Totally screwy day all the way around and thankfully luck was on their side. It sure wasn't because of a stellar day on the pit box other than the call to stay out.

go 19 and 12

okla21fan said...

Go 19 and 12,

I think there was more 'code talking' going on the 19 scanner than we might know. For example, Sadler asked multiple times if the 19 was 'using Sonoma fuel calculations'. The would be little reason to compare fuel mileage from a road course to a mile oval with no shifting. When Rodney said they would be 8 laps short, I honestly don't think that was the real lap figure.

I also think the change of direction in the later stages of the race to go from 'conserving fuel' to 'racing' had more to do with the change of the weather. With 50 to go, I think that most at the track were watching the radar and felt that the rains would not hit as soon as they did.

Had they not choose to go for 'track position' and a two tire stop with over 200 laps to go with an ill-handling car, they gambling on fuel mileage may have never been needed in the first place.

I was a bit disappointed when the rains came cause we will never know who was bluffing and who had aces.