Keselowski’s team fined points and $, just like we thought

Kesleowski’s #2 Ford was found to be too low in post-race inspection, reportedly from a part that broke. Penske had already said that he would not appeal the penalty.

From jayski.com:

As a result of this violation, crew chief Paul Wolfe has been fined $25,000 and will remain on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31. The team has also been docked six championship driver (Brad Keselowski) and six championship car owner (Roger Penske) points.

And as noted in our previously-recorded-but-not-yet-editied podcast, this was the exact same penalty applied to Martin Truex Jr.’s team earlier this year for the same violation.

Score one for NASCAR consistency. The scoreboard is something like 15 to 83643 (consistency vs. rule-of-the-moment), but at least it is something.

F1 cars – they just look weird

This is what we were talking about in the last podcast – the nose of the F1 cars.

From the side, it looks like a mustachioed race car:

F1_redbull_side

And from the front, it looks like a hungry whale:

F1 front

Just, meh.

F1 front

Pit Road map for the Coke 600

Looking at the pit road map for the Coke 600 tomorrow, I noticed a little bit of an unusual pattern in pit selection.

Below is a modified pit road selection chart:

Coke600Pit 2013

The first 4 qualifiers are marked with a red number signifying their qualifying position. No real surprise there – the pole sitter Denny Hamlin took the #1 pit stall. 2nd place took the first pit stall that had an opening in front (for better pit exit), and so did the 3rd place qualifier, and the 4th place.

Then, 5th – 7th picked pit stalls that had an opening behind (for better pit entry).

But what surprised me a little was the fact that the 9-13th place drivers all picked pits near the back of pit road. Not until you get to 14th, 15th, and 16th picks do you see cars in the front of pit road.

Finally – used to be that the top 20 cars generally occupied stalls at the front of the pit road, and the slower (expected to be a lap down) cars took the back. However, in this map, it seems like there are “slower” cars almost every other pit stall from front to back of pit road (32 car in 6th position, 35 in 8th, 13 in 10th, etc…).

Interesting…

Raceview – price now reduced! Still not buying it.

My thoughts on NASCAR’s “screens other than a TV must all cost different amounts” policy can be found here.

Today’s follow up concerns the price of the Raceview PC version, which NASCAR is advertising as a “reduced price” from the original $79.95 to $44.95 for the season. Looks like they’re not getting the subscribers they want.

Here’s what you (NASCAR) need to do:

  • Unify raceview & nascar mobile (I still don’t know what the difference is except for the computer generated track in raceview).
  • Set one price for access to all the versions (PC version, iPhone version, Android version, iPad version, etc…).
  • Set a simple monthly subscription price (like $5 – $10), or just charge $40 or $50 for the year, or do both (maybe only allow the full year purchase in the first month of the season).

But, judging from the amorphous bag of poop that is the NASCAR.com website, I highly doubt they have the technical chops to pull this one off.

Grumble.

All-Star Schmak Showdown Schmegegge

We schmak the showdown, the All-star race, and posit some opinions about how to improve this next year (hint – it’s not switching venues to Las Vegas).

Picks for the 600:

Coach: Kasey Kahne (again)

Rob: Jimmie Johnson

Top-5 Follow up

As suggested in a comment on the last story, it might be useful to look at top-5s in the context of races run, and have a look at the percentage of races that these drivers were able to convert into top-5s.

For the sake of brevity, I’m going to look at the four drivers mentioned in the last post.

In order of top-5 percentage:

1) David Pearson – 574 races, 301 top 5s (52%), 105 wins (18%)

2) Richard Petty – 1185 races run, 555 top 5s (47%), 200 wins (17%)

3) Bobby Allison – 717 races, 336 top 5s (46%), 85 wins (12%)

4) Jeff Gordon – 700 races run, 300 top 5s (43%), 87 wins (12%)

UPDATE – decided to add Jimmie Johnson to this list:

5) Jimmie Johnson – 410 races run, 172 top 5s (42%), 62 wins (15%)

Jeff Gordon’s top-5s

On this last podcast, we covered the fact that Jeff Gordon recorded his 300th top 5 of his career at Darlington.

Most reporting did not really give us a sense of the magnitude of his achievement.

On the podcast, I mentioned that Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, and David Pearson were the only other NASCAR drivers to earn more top 5s.

But the question remained – how many more does Gordon have to get before he moves higher up the list? I couldn’t find this information while we were recording, but according to an article on nascar.com, he doesn’t have far to go.

“[Gordon] now ranks behind only NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty (555), Bobby Allison (336) and David Pearson (301) in career top-fives.”

So two more top-5s, and he’ll move ahead of David Pearson. 37 more, and he’ll move ahead of Bobby Allison. If he is able to earn a top-5 in about 30% of his remaining races (approximately his top-5 percentage from last year), it will take him 6 or 7 more races to pass David Pearson, and another 3.5 seasons to pass Bobby Allison, and another 24 seasons to pass Richard Petty.

If he maintained his current top-5 percentage of 43%, he’ll only have to go 17 years to eclipse Richard Petty. Either way, he will not be driving in the sport that long.

But he has a shot at the other two.

Insta-follow up (i.e., Coach was wrong)

I made a mistake and referenced “Humpy’s Big Bonus” in the last podcast because Humpy Wheeler has, in the past, been known for his publicity work for the Charlotte Motor Speedway. However, he retired a few years ago, and the $1 million bonus for the driver that wins all 5 segments should be called “Bruton’s Big Bonus”.

Wrong way joystick cranking at Darlington

Join us for our 82nd(!) episode of the schmak.

Lots of awesome schmak silliness, including the gyro cam sham, Darlington’s boring opening laps, the racing that broke out near the end, and a fantastic preview of the All-Star race next week. Do you have a question about the All-Star format? Eligibility for the race? It’s all here in the latest schmak.

Picks for the Sprint Open race:

Coach: Jamie McMurray
Rob: Martin Truex Jr.

Picks for the All-Star race:

Coach: Kasey Kahne
Rob: Clint Bowyer

Live Schmak – Wednesday at 6:45

We will be doing a live schmak on Wednesday, 6:45 pm Pacific Time.

Join us here: http://70.185.182.78:8000/listen.m3u

The url will be live at 6:45 pm on Wednesday.

No Backup for Denny

Just heard that Denny Hamlin does not have a backup plan, and is planning to be in the car for the entire race at Darlington.

Time to update my ESPN fantasy picks – Denny is great at this track, and 13th in the first practice.

Things to do in Talladega

On the latest podcast, we laid the schmakiest Schmak on Talladega infield, racing, crashing, raining, and a surprise victor.

Picks for next week at Darlington are:

Rob: Jimmie Johnson

Coach: Matt Kenseth

Weird Stuff in Richmond

This week, we schmak all things Richmond.

Penalties, tires, sprinkler malfunctions, it’s all here in the weekly Schmak of record.

Picks for next week at Talladega:

Coach: Dale Jr.

Rob: Cousin Carl Edwards

Penalties Part IV

So, it looks like NASCAR is going the Carl Long route with Kenseth’s penalties – 50 points, $200,000, and suspension of the owner’s license and crew chief for the 20 car for the next 6 weeks.

Note – suspension of owner’s license means that the 20 car will not receive owner’s points for the next 6 points races.

This seems to be confirmation of a new era of consistency for NASCAR as far as penalties go.

Mechanical issue causing post race inspection fail? 6 points, $25,000 fine.

Attempt to cheat or use illegal parts (engine excluded)? 25 points, $100,000 fine.

Something wrong with the engine? 50 points, $200,000 fine.

So even though I’m not a fan of the Penske “not in the spirit of the rules” infraction, I do applaud NASCAR for trying to set a consistent precedent for fines and penalties.

Now it’s up to the crew chiefs and car owners to determine if the penalties outweigh the possible benefits of “gray area” performance gains.

“Worshing” away the penalties at Kansas.

This week, on our Kansas 1 schmak, we discuss the new road course qualifying format, post-Texas penalties, Danica running a little bit better, and more… lots… more.

Picks for next week:

Coach: Kasey Kahne

Rob: Kyle Busch

Kenseth’s Engine Fails Post-Race Inspection

On the heels of the Penske rear end penalties (heh), Matt Kenseth’s #20 TRD engine failed post race inspection due to one of the connecting rods that was too light. Since there are eight of them, and only one was under weight, it almost seems like a quality control issue, and would not offer any sort of competitive advantage.

So the question is – will NASCAR pull a Carl Long type penalty ($200,000, 50 points, suspension from competition), a Penkse type penalty, or a Truex penalty (6 points, $25,000, probation)?

New Qualifying format for road courses!

As the exclamation mark in the title probably indicates, I’m very excited for the new qualifying format for the road courses.

Previously, road course qualifying was done just like all the other tracks – one car at a time, best lap wins the pole. The only difference is that the road courses typically time just one lap due to the amount of time it takes to get around the track.

The new format now specifies that cars will go out in groups for a set period of time, and the best lap by each car will be their qualifying lap of record.

They’ve used this in the Nationwide qualifying at road courses before, and I loved it.

This is yet another reason why road courses are awesome, and should be a bigger part of the sport.

Hear hear to another piece of good news!

Penalties Part III – Precedent

An interesting article over at the frontstretch has some interesting points about penalty precedents.

On Sunday, Martin Truex and his team failed post-race inspection for having a car that was too low. The infraction seems to be an easy, black and white, yes or no kind of deal, and so does the penalty.

In the wake of penalties issued Wednesday, the one that stands out the most here is Martin Truex, Jr.’s penalty for being too low in post-race inspection. That six-point deduction – equivalent to about 25 in the old system – along with a $25,000 fine for crew chief Chad Johnston keeps along with the same type of infraction reaching all the way back into the previous decade.

Why I find that important is, for the first time if you asked 50 of the top media members and garage insiders what Truex’s penalty would be, I’m confident all 50 would have said what actually happened. For once, a rulebook deadpanned as written in dry erase marker has a sense of permanence when it comes to a penalty for a specific violation.

The whole article is pretty good, and makes the case that the points and crew chief suspensions in the Penske camp have precedent as well, harkening back to 2006 when the 24 and 48 cars failed to fit the COT template.

But to me, that’s a fairly different issue – in the Hendrick violation, cars are easily, visibly, not legal. Cut and dried. But with the Penkse situation, the cars were visibly, verifiably legal, but were modified so that in action, they gained an advantage.

Again – these are cars that were deemed legal by NASCAR, but NASCAR didn’t like some of the parts on them (for good reason).

The Penske situation sounds similar to a 2005 Hendrick situation, where the right rear shocks were modified to stay extended and gave over 200 pounds of downforce advantage to the 48 and 5 teams.

“From a rulebook standpoint, these are the facts: The cars passed post-race inspection last Sunday night,” Darby said. “In regards to the shock absorbers themselves, after being tested and disassembled and everything, all the parts and pieces are well within the confines of the rulebook. However, the shock build the assembly of the shock and what the shock is intended to do with that build – it’s not within the spirit and the intent of what our shock absorber rules surround.

That was 2005, this is 2013, so things have changed.

In the past, legal-but-still-advantageous parts have been treated under the “don’t bring these back” program, and have caused changes to the rule book to make them illegal after the fact.

So is this the new precedent?

Can everybody now expect to receive the same fine for violating the spirit of the rules?

Speaking of Penalties – Trucks at the Rock

Ron Hornaday was fined 25 points and $25,000 for wrecking Darrel Wallace Jr. under caution, seen here.

Hornaday claims that he didn’t know the caution was out:

“I didn’t know the yellow was out and I got down in there and started racing on the back straightaway and he slowed up and then I run into him a little bit,” said Hornaday, who has 51 career wins and 200 consecutive starts in the series.

“I went over to the other side (of him) and I don’t know if he hit his brakes on me or whatever, but I turned him in the fence and I feel like a total idiot.”

Please. We’d have to be total idiots to believe that.

UPDATE – here’s a more complete look at it. You can see Hornaday slow down, downshift, and see his eyes as he’s spinning Darrel “Bubba” Wallace out.

Penalties Schmenalties

On Wednesday (delayed from their normal Tuesday announcement due to Keselowski’s White House appearance), NASCAR announced penalties for team Penske involving 25 points, $100,000, and 6 week suspensions for crew and car chiefs for both the #2 and #22 Penske Fords.

That’s a pretty harsh penalty any way you look at it, made even harsher because NASCAR has not yet actually stated that anything that they confiscated was “illegal”.

Just that certain parts “weren’t in the spirit of the rules”.

Heck of a penalty for not having NASCAR spirit.