GM Racing Winston Breakfast Club Part 2 of 2 DOUG DUCHARDT, NASCAR GROUP MANAGER, GM RACING: ON THE STRENGTH OF THE GM CARS AND THE RULES CHANGES WE'VE HAD THIS WEEK: "Obviously it's been a unique week. in my time in this sport I've...
Winston Breakfast Club
Part 2 of 2
DOUG DUCHARDT, NASCAR GROUP MANAGER, GM RACING:
ON THE STRENGTH OF THE GM CARS AND THE RULES CHANGES WE'VE HAD THIS WEEK: "Obviously it's been a unique week. in my time in this sport I've never seen anything like it during Speedweeks. A lot of you have been here longer than I have. It's probably been unique for you too, I imagine. I feel strongly that our teams -- we have the best teams -- and I also know that 2000 put a burr under everyone's saddle when we were embarrassed out here. We had two issues in 2000. We had an aerodynamic issue, which was very well documented. We also had an issue under the hood. We didn't have the proper amount of power and those things you find caused us to have some difficulty in 2000. So, a lot of things have changed since then, and a lot of things happened after that Daytona 500 caused those things. I know one of our organizations, DEI, after that chassis dyno test said that's enough, we're going to put someone full time on restrictor-plate engines, and that's all they do all year. They don't worry about it now and in late March worry about Talladega. They're all year working on that stuff. The other observation I'll make is that when they changed the rules to the spoiler on the top of the car and the gurney flap in Talladega of 2000 a lot of you noted that every race that we raced under those rules was won by a RAD car. And there's a lot of gnashing of teeth that the Chevy had the advantage and they whacked away last year at the Ford spoilers until the last Talladega race we went to the wind tunnel after that race the Ford was the best car but yet again Dale Jr. won that race. And now we come down to Speedweeks with a new set of rules and the RAD cars are strong again, the Hendrick cars are strong, and I think that the RAD organization is one that's unique in the sport. I don't know of any other organization that has three teams working together to develop their cars. I think that's paying dividends.
"At a point you ask yourself as an engineer looking at wind tunnel numbers and chassis dyno numbers, which, as I mentioned yesterday, every GM car was better than any Ford or Dodge. I'm not going to get into who works harder than who. I don't think that's one to talk about in this garage area, I know everyone works hard. But we've certainly had a concentrated effort to get better. And at some point when is enough enough. I think that was too much yesterday.
YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE COMMON TEMPLATE? ARGUING BETWEEN THE TWO OR THREE CAMPS: "It's interesting that we have a Dodge guy here right now, because the 'common template' cars have a half inch different spoiler on the back. They're very, very close. If there's an eight of an inch difference that would be a lot between those two lone templates that I know of. The other thing is if you take the wind tunnel results from Monday, the rules change Monday, the quarter inch after the Bud Shootout, made the Ford as good as any car out here in the wind tunnel. And now we take another quarter off of them. I'm still not understanding the complaint from that camp when they've gotten more than they asked for. As far as the common template (goes), last year (it was the) same thing. You go to the downforce tracks -- we had the Ford and the Dodge run through the year the same -- and all of a sudden we jerk the Dodge out two inches on the kick going into the Brickyard. Either you have 'NASCAR' templates that you keep them the same and race that way or you don't. As soon as you start changing one, you change the whole system and it's not going to work."
IS THERE SUCH A THING AS RULES STABILITY? YOU HAVE A SET OF RULES YOU SHOULD STICK BY IT. ARE WE MANAGING THIS THING AS AN ALAN GREENSPAN-ESQUE MANNER? "That's probably a better question for Mike Helton or John Darby, I guess. I know that there was a lot of discussion after the Talladega race that we had from the drivers that we need to change these rules in the way these cars drive and get them out of the pack. We did that. Then NASCAR says that they told all the teams that they had the right to change the rules all during Speedweeks to get it to where they thought it was correct. So that was set. Now the question is when do you need to make the change and what data and what are you using to make that change. I guess I don't want to comment much more on that."
TALK ABOUT DIFFERENT WAYS TO MEASURE DIFFERENT ASPECTS: "Well, I think the templates are a complex 3-D puzzle, if you think about it. If you put all 22 of them up in the air and figure out how the cars go under them. My understanding of the C-pillar template is that all the makes templates are the same width, so depending on the geometry of their greenhouse they come down further than other makes. And that was my explanation from the series director. So, if you need more clarification I'd go to Darby on that."
YOU WERE UPSET EARLIER IN THE WEEK WITH THE RULES CONCESSIONS TO THE OTHER MANUFACTURERS, AND NOW YOU SEEM TO BE NOT SO UPSET. DID YOU JUMP THE GUN ON YOUR REACTION? "That's a good question because the initial wind tunnel results from Talladega were done with cars after the Talladega race so we had cars built with the old package, and they took that old package off. And when they took that old package off they ran all four makes. And then they asked all the manufacturers what changes do you think we should make to make these things right. And there were two common things that came out of those suggestions. GM sent in suggestions, Ford sent in suggestions, and Dodge sent in suggestions. One common thing was (to) leave the Pontiac alone. At six and a half inches. The other common thing was you need to cut the Chevy a quarter of an inch. Because the Chevy was the worst car in the wind tunnel at that test. So, if you take the numbers from that test and you take what happened to us in 2000, and even after we got the kick out on the July race here, there was a 1-through-5 sweep, then we come down here. What has happened I think is they have changed the way they've inspected the rear of the cars this year, and the effect of that was an unknown, to me and to the teams. So when I sat back as an engineer and looked at the wind tunnel data from Talladega and I looked at the results of the last time we ran these races, going 1 through 5 in both Daytona races in 2000, I was very concerned. We didn't know where we were engine-wise. We had made more gains than I thought we had. I think one of the unknowns, and it hasn't been written about much this week, is what has the effect been of the new weight rules of engine components across the board, because that has affected restrictor-plate engines for sure. There's a minimum weight for pistons, rods, pins, and I think that may have an effect on some of the competition too.
"I didn't say anything after the quarter-inch on Monday because I was down in Homestead with Cadillac."
WHAT EXACTLY DOES THE QUARTER-INCH DO AND ARE SOME OF THESE TEAMS GOING TO SANDBAG IN PRACTICE TODAY TO NOT LET ANYBODY SEE WHAT THEY HAVE? "I'm not going to address any sandbagging questions anymore. No. But this quarter inch is worth about, in the wind tunnel, seven drag horsepower, which is a 10th to 15 hundredths of a second. But the concern is with the Ford. The latest change was never tested in the NASCAR wind tunnel test. So, they've tested that car at a six-inch spoiler, but they never tested it at a 5 and 3/4 and what we don't know is if the change is a linear change. That for each quarter of an inch is it always about 7 or at some point is it more or is it less. I don't know the answer to that. So, the 5 and 3/4 is somewhat of an unknown. It is a change for them to have to address. Obviously, not being in the Ford camp, I'm not hearing that that's going well or not."
WHAT IS THE STATUS ON THE NEW PONTIAC? "NASCAR rules state that we have to have our car submitted by July 1. So, the car is in progress, and we'll talk more about that at some other time. I hope everyone understands that the NASCAR process is a very sensitive one and we don't want to get into a lot of public discussion until we get it approved. We have a lot of talented teams to work on it, and I think it's going to be fine."
KNOWING WE'D HAD TWO CARS COME FROM THE SAME TEMPLATE, AND THAT IN ADDITION TO THE 2003 PONTIAC, THERE IS GOING TO BE A NEW FORD IN 2004, WHAT IS THE PLAN? "In the long-term, is this the plan all the cars are going to be under? That's a good NASCAR question. As these cars roll out, what exactly is the plan? I had a 1980 Monte Carlo. That wouldn't fit under these templates very well. So the shapes of these cars are going to evolve. So what's the long-term plan? There is going to be a cadence of new cars from every manufacturer. Are we going to still have a 2000 NASCAR Taurus as the template defining the shape?"
IN ANALYZING THE WIND TUNNEL TESTS AFTER THE BUD SHOOTOUT, WHERE EXACTLY ARE THE MANUFACTURES IN TERMS OF THE INDIVIDUAL TESTS? "In the wind tunnel they'll test the car straight ahead, which is a good test for drag typically because you go down a straight-away straight ahead. When you turn into a corner, the car tends to, what we call, yaw. They usually test at three degrees yaw. That's where we usually gauge how much downforce we have because that's where you're turning the car. So, what's the total package to get around the track? The best car would be one as you went into yaw, you didn't gain much drag but a bunch of downforce. What we saw after the Bud Shootout was.... Straight-ahead the drag between a Ford, a Pontiac and a Chevy was within 4 drag-horsepower, which is very close. I don't have all the yaw numbers down, but in general the Chevrolet gains more drag in yaw than other cars. That's just the characteristic of the car. It's been that way since we've had it. (So,) I don't know that there's necessarily an advantage for Chevy in that."
SO ARE THE FORD'S GAINING A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF DOWNFORCE? "Ford had the most downforce in the wind tunnel.
IN YAW? "Yes. Now, we've whacked the spoiler a couple of times (since that test.) So I don't know what that does. We have not tested this (new) configuration in the wind tunnel. They (Ford) may have, but NASCAR has not."
WHEN ARE WE GONG TO SEE A COMMON-TEMPLATE CHEVROLET? "I can't comment on that. That would suggest when a new (production) car would be coming out. I can't do that at this time."
IT SEEMS AS THOUGH A MANUFACTURER BUILDS A CAR FOR NON-RESTRICTOR PLATE VENUES, AND THEN YOU HOPE NASCAR MAKES ENOUGH CONCESSIONS TO MAKE YOU RACEABLE AT DAYTONA AND TALLADEGA? "It's difficult because 32 of the races are downforce tracks, or non-restrictor plate tracks. Certainly if you would have gone off how things were handled in 2000 and 2001, you wouldn't count on anything. And now that has all changed. This has been a unique week - one I can't ever remember anything like this. I think we need to see how this plays out in the long-term to understand that."
DO YOU THINK THE NEW PONTIAC TO COME IN 2003 WILL TRAVEL THE SAME PATH? "With the NASCAR templates, it's difficult to get too far off that. It goes back to the question as to why there is a half-inch difference between the template cars, I guess.