The inspection process was a point of discussion last week at Texas when the No. 20 Chevrolet Monte Carlo of Tony Stewart was impounded by NASCAR for not fitting all of the templates. As the NASCAR Winston Cup Series heads to Talladega, a few Ford...
The inspection process was a point of discussion last week at Texas when the No. 20 Chevrolet Monte Carlo of Tony Stewart was impounded by NASCAR for not fitting all of the templates. As the NASCAR Winston Cup Series heads to Talladega, a few Ford crew chiefs gave their thoughts on whether or not NASCAR's action will have an effect on how they prepare their race cars on a weekly basis.
RAYMOND FOX , Crew Chief - No. 38 M&M's Taurus:
TALLADEGA INSPECTIONS ALWAYS SEEM TO BE PRETTY RIGOROUS. DO YOU EXPECT THAT PROCESS TO BE LONGER AND MORE INTENSE THIS WEEK? "No. I think inspection from Talladega to Martinsville is gonna be the same because what they've done ever since Daytona is get the process going faster. They've got their routine. They've got all the templates and everybody knows what they're doing. They've got the same people doing the same thing every week, but some weeks it will go faster and some weeks it will go slower. It all depends on how many cars have problems or not. The process will go really fast if nobody has problems. If they throw the templates on the car and it's good, you'll go right through. Sometimes if you have a problem, they'll let you tune on it right there as long as it's not major and that can hold the line up a little bit. But NASCAR is doing a good job on the template issue as far as doing the same thing every week with all of the templates, so I don't think it's gonna be a big deal."
DID THE SITUATION WITH TONY STEWART'S CHEVROLET MAKE YOU GO BACK AND DOUBLE-CHECK YOUR PROCEDURES BACK AT THE SHOP? "Yeah. As soon as I heard what happened to them I called back to the shop and told them that was a prime example of what can happen if you're not right because the 20 car is a good team. I'm not saying that they overlooked it or they didn't look at it, but it opens up your eyes to make you go back to the shop and say, 'OK, this is what happened last week. Let's not try to let it happen to us.' What we do is make sure we go over all the steps. We spend more time on templates at the shop than we probably do on other stuff that we need to pay attention to, but if you're messed up when you get there and you have to work on your car at the track, then that delays the whole deal all weekend. We pay a lot of attention to that stuff. I'm not saying they don't. I don't know what their situation is, but it makes you open up your eyes and realize you have to concentrate on things like that."
PEOPLE HAVE SAID IF YOU'RE NOT TRYING TO PUSH THE ENVELOPE, YOU'RE NOT DOING YOUR JOB. IS THAT ACCURATE? "Yeah, but I think that's what NASCAR has done a good job at because they're controlling things in a little box and you can't go but only so far out of that box. They'll allow you to go a little bit out of that box, but you can't push it too far. They're doing a good job and I applaud them because in the long run I think it will be better racing and things will be more equal. You can push the issue, but you just don't go out of the box."
IS IT SAFE TO SAY YOU'LL GO OVER YOUR TALLADEGA CAR A LITTLE MORE CLOSELY THIS WEEK? "Yeah. I told my guys to treat everything the same from Talladega to Martinsville because then we won't have any problems."
PAUL ANDREWS , Crew Chief - No. 99 CITGO Taurus:
DO YOU EXPECT ANY INSPECTION CHANGES AT TALLADEGA? "To be quite honest I don't expect to see any changes. I'm expecting to see what we've seen all year to this point. Everybody has their act together. The 20 car had to unload their backup because they were so far off and I'd say that somebody missed the one measurement at the shop. I know what we're doing. We're double-checking and triple-checking every single template and every measurement there is and somewhere along the line somebody missed that measurement. I know how easy it is to overlook a number, but I think we're gonna see the same thing we've seen all year at Talladega as far as getting through tech. There's gonna be a little bit of dust flying and a little bit of bondo flying, but I don't think you'll see what we've seen in the past. There's no way. First of all, you're gonna miss practice and you can't have that. You cannot miss practice. Luckily, if your car is right at Talladega or Daytona, you get one or two runs and that's really all you need. If you're like us and you're taking a completely different car with a completely different body style from what we had at Daytona, we need every minute of practice we can get. We've got to have our car right, and I think that's the way a lot of other people are gonna be as well."
DID YOU RE-EMPHASIZE ANYTHING TO YOUR CREW AS A RESULT OF THE INCIDENT WITH TONY STEWART'S CHEVY? "No, because we've been checking things over and over all year. We're trying to go through the first time. That's the whole logic because if you don't go through the first time, you have to go through after everybody else does. If that's what happens, then you're not gonna make practice. We want to make practice every time. Like I said, that's an easy deal to miss because it's just a measurement. I'm trying to give them the benefit of the doubt only because I know how easy it is to do something like that."
HOW DO YOU UTILIZE TEMPLATES AT YOUR SHOP? "When we get to the shop on Monday we debrief our race car from the week before, but from that minute on we're putting templates on the car until we leave. Every template is put on at least twice before that car leaves the race shop and some of them are put on three or four times if we're missing a little bit and have to work on it."
WERE YOU SURPRISED TO SEE NASCAR IMPOUND THE CAR? "I need to check the rules because I thought if you brought a car and had to take a penalty, they were supposed to cut the spoiler off and make them race it. Obviously, I was wrong because that's not what happened. But I thought the spoiler was supposed to have a half-inch or three-quarters-of-an-inch taken off instead of making you load it up, but I'll have to go read my rule book on that one."
PAT TRYSON , Crew Chief - No. 21 Motorcraft Taurus:
THERE ALWAYS SEEMS TO BE A LOT OF SANDING AND SAWING AT TALLADEGA WITH CARS THAT HAVEN'T MADE IT THROUGH INSPECTION. DO YOU FORESEE THE SAME THING THIS WEEK AFTER WHAT HAPPENED AT TEXAS? "Probably. I think you always see that a little bit at the speedways because it all depends how aggressive guys want to get. You know what you've got to have for Daytona or Talladega and how inspection is, so it's just a case of how much you want to push the edge. I think you'll see more guys fixing stuff because I think crew chiefs are more aggressive with a restrictor plate car."
SO YOU DON'T THINK WHAT HAPPENED TO THE TONY STEWART'S CHEVROLET LAST WEEK WILL HAVE AN AFFECT ON WHAT GOES ON AT TALLADEGA? "I think that car was way off, it wasn't a little bit off. With speedway cars, everybody is going for a little bit here and a little bit there. It's not like you're talking about three-quarters-of-an-inch like I think what you saw with the 20 car. You have to push the edge on a speedway car because the body is so much more important as far as drag and as far speed goes for qualifying."
HOW OFTEN DO YOU USE TEMPLATES DURING THE WEEK? "We usually check the templates in the body shop before we paint the car and then again before we come to the race track to see if there's something we need to work on. We're really not trying to push the issue with templates right now because I don't think you can. It's not gonna be like years past where it gets easier as the year goes along. I think what you've seen here at the beginning of the year is what you're gonna see halfway through the year and at the end of the year. If you think you're gonna start getting away with something, then you're gonna end up like the 20 car - parked next to the NASCAR trailer."