There is only ONE Oklahoma

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Elliott Sadler stop number 2 of the 2009 ‘No Excuses Tour’—Same song, different verse

California Dreamin turned out to be another California nightmare for Elliott Sadler and his 19 team. The buzz words were already flowing in pre-race and qualifying quotes, almost in an eerie foreshadowing of the Sunday to come.

“We have a lot of effort put into our front clips, front geometry, trying to get the front tires to work as efficient as we can. Some owners may be thinking its body, motors, rear clips, center cage….there are many things that you can work on. Right now we’re really working on our front clips area, bump stop and front geometry stuff. As a team, we think that’s where we need to be better. Right now, that’s where the emphasis has been with winter testing so far.”

Listening via the greatness of PitCommand, it was pretty clear from the start that Sadler was not happy but it goes further than that.

Lap 5 caution (rain)
Sadler after five (really 4) short laps tells CC Kevin Buskirk that there is a problem with the front end by announcing that the 19 car is ‘a little snug in the middle and a little snug back in the gas….and that the splitter seemed to be dragging a bit’, in the corners. After a small exchange that the 19 team finally figured out that the radios used need the ‘big antenna’ in order for Sadler to hear them (maybe the Best Buy Geek Squad should assist) another ‘track position’ pit strategy move instead of making an honest attempt to ‘fix’ an ill handling car, 2 tires and a half pound out of the right rear was the pit call. The 19 entered the pits running 25th, and took the green flag running 21st.

Side note: This caution lasted over 15 laps and it was during this caution that Sadler was asking for the dreaded TRACKBAR change in order to give him some more ‘forward bite’. Since the last pit stop, no green flag laps had been run, and Sadler is already ‘complaining’ about the car. Not that there is anything wrong with this, except for the ‘strategy’ 2 tire stop laps before. Why not simply make the changes, take four tires, lose a few positions , in the name of making the car better in the long run? But I have been a broken record about this for almost a decade.

Lap 35 scanner chat:
Sadler tells Buskirk that the 19 is ‘still dragging the splitter on entry’, and is a ‘little free off’. The 19 car is running 26th at this time.

Lap 41 caution (rain):
Sadler reinforces that the ‘splitter is still dragging too much on entry’ He goes a bit more in depth for his CC with ‘Front end is trying to work, its better than yesterday.’ And lastly again states he wants ‘a little more forward bite on exit’. Buskirk quickly and commandly tells the 19 team to go up on all 4 tire pressures and to add a ‘packer’. (not sure which tire the bump stop was added to though). Sadler added that he didn’t think it would need much, maybe a ‘1/16th’, not much more. The 19 enter the pits running 27th, and took the field running 39th. It was then decided after a nice suggestion by Brett Griffin that it might be a good idea to ‘top off’ because there were only two cars running behind the 19. After topping off, the 19 takes the green flag running 40th.

Just before taking the green scanner chatter:
Buskirk wants to clarify; ‘As I understand, you were tight from dragging the splitter, not chassis tight right’? Sadler responds with a not very confident, ‘I think so’.

Lap 48 scanner chatter (running 35th)
Sadler; ‘I don’t know if the bump did anything, but I think it took a lot of the rear grip away’. No response on Pit Command

Laps 66 scanner chatter (running 34th)
Sadler states that the 19 ‘is not driving as good as it did the last run. Don’t know if is the tires or that bump stop.’ Buskirk answers; ‘I hear ya, we are gunna make a change.’

Lap 85 green flag stop: (running 31st)
Buskirk calls for 4 tires and one round down on the TRACKBAR (something Sadler was calling for since the first caution) The 19 cycles through pits stops running 33rd.

Lap 88, the 19 goes one lap down running 32nd.

Lap 91 scanner chatter (running 31st)
Sadler; ‘Still just way on the splitter on low pressures’.
Buskirk; ‘Just give us what you got, I know its bad’. (someone give Kevin a pom pom next time!)

Lap 95 scanner chatter (running 31st)
Sadler; ‘Not sure what changes we made, but I cannot use the brakes, the more I use the brakes the more the car slids.’
Buskirk; ’10-4’ (followed by some more cheer leading)

Lap 105 scanner chatter (running 31st)
Sadler; ‘the car doesn’t like the changes…..grip, slide, grip, slide’.

Lap 109 scanner chatter (running 31st)
Sadler; ‘We done something to this thing, the front end is really gone’.
Buskirk; ‘All we was a little air pressure adjustment and down one on the TRACKBAR.’

Lap 121 green flag stop (running 31st)
Sadler wanted to pit a few laps earlier and stated he was worried about the right front tire wear.
The pit called for 4 tires, one round up on the TRACKBAR (the ‘180’ from the pit stop at lap 85, so take a drink in the Elliott Sadler Drinking Game). After pit cycles through, the 19 is still running 31st. Buskirk notes to Sadler that the ‘tires were perfect, just perfect’.

Lap 130 scanner chatter (running 31st)
Buskirk waves his pom poms once again by stating, ‘hang in there bud, we can make something out of this day. ‘

Lap 141 caution (rain, running 31st)
Sadler; ‘Front end not working like I need it to, when I am on the brakes. Its just not doing what I need it to do….I think we need to be thinking about strategy, do the opposite of what everyone else does……..it’s just bound up on the front end on entry, a little free up off……I would rather have the free off.’
Buskirk; ‘Well I don’t know what is going on, if it (the splitter) is hitting the RF or hitting the LF.’ At this point, Buskirk is almost begging Sadler to give proper communication of what the car is doing. Sadler still could not give a good answer. The 19 pits, 4 tires, and takes the packers back out (another ‘180’, take a drink). Buskirk asks the 19 crew to take a bit of extra time, to check the splitter to see where the dragging is.

Back to green lap 151 running 33rd.

Lap 153 scanner chatter (running 33rd)
Sadler; ‘Is the splitter hitting?
Buskirk; ‘It was hitting on the left front.’

Lap 168 scanner chatter (running 31st)
Sadler; ‘Too tight in the middle, still sliding the nose…..what ever we are doing to it, its just bad.’

Lap 170 caution (running 31st)
Buskirk; ‘Got a lot of air in the front end, we can take that out.’
Sadler; ‘okay, do you think that will help me off?’
Now Sadler is not so concerned about the ‘front end’, and the tight entry and middle, but has more of a problem with the car getting looser off the corner.

Long caution (rain) and the 19 finally pits with one to go on lap 175 for 4 tires, down on the front pressures (no other changes mentioned)

Lap 198 scanner chatter (running 29th)
Sadler; ‘‘Do we have anymore room in the front tires, I would like more of that, and maybe something to help the exit’

Lap 206 scanner chatter (running 29th)
Buskirk; “we are gunna pit in 7 laps’
Sadler; ‘need help in the center, and forward bite off’
Buskirk; ‘We have a plan’

Lap 207 caution (running 29th)
Buskirk; ’ save gas…all the time under caution’ followed by some more cheerleading, ‘I can tell you a trying, I appriciate it.’
Sadler; ‘I am trying but there is something about this front end’
Buskirk; ‘Okay so we ARE better than yesterday right?’
Sadler; ‘Oh yeah, we are way better, I don’t know if this tire is different from Rockingham, or what.’

I still will question how data from a 1 mile track that has a reputation that ‘eats’ tires, can translate to a two mile superspeedway with long sweeping turns, and speeds that reach 200+ mph.

restart lap 215 (running 25th)

Lap 227 scanner chatter (running 26th)
Sadler; ‘we just really unhooked the back, there is just not much I can do with it’ (loose car)
Buskirk; ‘just do the best you can’
Sadler; ‘I feel like I am killing the right rear.’
Buskirk; ‘the tires have been great’

Lap 232 scanner chatter (running 26th)
Sadler; ‘I just can’t get it any gas’
Buskirk; ‘its okay, those are good laps’

lap 235 scanner chatter (running 26th)
Sadler; ‘My right rear is gone, sorry, this last adjustment we just changed the balance of the car a bunch’

After the 8 car blows up, the 19 car is now running 25th and finishes the race in that position.

Post race scanner chatter (finished 25th)
Buskirk; ‘What did we do to the car on last stop’
Sadler; ‘I think the air out of the LR made it looser, extremely loose on exit.’
Buskirk; ’10-4, I’ll write that down’.

So the word of the day was ‘front end’, well maybe this is simply ‘excuse number 1’ in the early season. Lets hope not. It's on the Las Vegas!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I never realized Sadler whined so much about the car and through all that whining, he can't give good feedback to his Crew Chief. No wonder his crew chiefs don't last more than a season.

I hope you can give scanner chat updates like this every race. Keep up the good work.