Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

Notebooking the Dover 400

  Goodyear men are bristling at complaints by Denny Hamlin and Greg Biffle, and some teams say they really like the new tire combination for Sunday's Dover 400 (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   DOVER, Del.
   Goodyear has a new tire combination here, and some drivers so far aren't all that happy with it. Denny Hamlin was the most critical.
   However Goodyear said that during the August 4th test here, with some 10 cars (in order to get plenty of rubber down on the concrete surface), the two primary tire testers were Jimmie Johnson and AJ Allmendinger, according to Goodyear, and both men agreed this was the right combination to bring for the 400. Juan Pablo Montoya was also at that test but he has downplayed his role in selecting the tires.
   Greg Biffle criticized Goodyear using Johnson, a chase driver, in the test: "We were told that NASCAR wouldn't allow any chase drivers to do any tire testing for races in the chase."
   But Goodyear officials pointed out the test was run well before the playoffs began (though Johnson was second in the standings at that time, and just coming off the win at Indianapolis).
     Hamlin: "There was a tire test here, and from what I hear, they didn't bring back the tire that everyone liked again. 
    "Same as Atlanta. 
    "They keep increasing the stagger in the tires (making the right-sides taller than the left-sides, to make a car turn more easily, think Dixie Cup on its side)…..and it just keeps making guys loose-in and loose-off. 
    "You'll see it during the race.  You're going to see guys sliding all over the place…just like at Atlanta. 
    "They won't listen to us drivers, so I don’t know why we even tire-test these tracks anymore.
   "To say it's a benefit to tire-test I think is completely false, because nine times out of 10, they bring back a tire that nobody even tested on. 
    "They'll take a lot of data from 'this tire' or they'll piece together 'this tire' and 'that tire' and make a tire that no one has run on and ends up being terrible.  I think it's just crap, really."
    Actually the tire construction that Goodyear has here is the new Las Vegas-type construction that teams, after that race, were so pleased with, for its increased grip. That tire design was also used at Charlotte. And Goodyear dismissed Hamlin's complaints about stagger, saying that the new tires, although both left-sides and right-sides are smaller than the May tires here, have relatively the same stagger.
   Juan Pablo Montoya perhaps puts the tire debate in perspective: "The biggest thing, it's just a different tire. I think whatever happened before can't really relate to what happens now.
    "So we have to assume it's going to be good.
     "It's seems to be putting a lot of rubber out there. Just got to wait and see what happens."
    In fact Goodyear has applied to these tires some of the added-rubber techniques it learned during extensive testing for Indianapolis' Brickyard 400, so that these tires will put down more rubber on the concrete (which is a surface that is notoriously hard to 'rubber up').
     And Gil Martin, crew chief for Kevin Harvick, says he and his driver are quite pleased with these new tires: "This is the most grip we've ever had here," Martin said.
   Low ratings for NASCAR as the championship chase opens.
   What's the problem?
   Let's ask Dr. Jerry Punch, the ABC/ESPN anchor, N.C. State grad, and 25-year NASCAR veteran.
   And maybe it's time to stop dumping on the TV guys and start looking at the product they have to work with – the on-track racing, the on-track starting times, and the competition.
   "We had ratings that were up for three or four weeks in a row, and that's the first time it's happened (this year)," Punch said, referring to the August stretch. "Nobody else had done that this year, and we were proud of that.
   "The racing has gotten better; the race to the chase (in late August) was good, with people watching to see if Kyle Busch was going to make it in (he didn't). The stories we were following were great, like Mark Martin.
    "At Richmond we were still above the ratings for that race a year ago.
   "New Hampshire, now I don't know. I'm not smart enough to understand why we didn't have the viewership. I think it was one of the better New Hampshire races."
   Indeed it was; and the Loudon, N.H., track is typically rather lackluster in action.
   "The weather was great, you had a great crowd, you had the Montoya story to follow…
   "Now I've heard people around the country talking about how it was an opening week for the NFL, and how the NFL had a 90-minute headstart on our green flag. Now I heard someone say if you give the NFL a 90-minute headstart, well they don't need the help; and it's hard to pull those fans away after they get ingrained in a football game.
   "We had a really good race at Loudon, one of the best races at Loudon in a long time, and we had a good broadcast, and we had great weather. We had all three things going for us.
   "In essence, as TV people we can't control the ratings; we just do the best we can, and put on the best product we can.
   "Dale Jarrett, Andy Petree and I are very good friends (those are Punch's two color commentators), and we work really, really hard to tell the race fans at home what we think they want to know."
   But a few of the issues going against the NASCAR telecast, aside from the NFL, are the timing of the start of the race (2:15 p.m. last Sunday), the mid-September scheduling of the start of the chase itself, and
    Is the NFL counterprogramming against NASCAR deliberately, to cut into ratings, in the cutthroat fight for sponsors?
   Punch demurred: "I wouldn't profess to know what the NFL is doing.
   "Of course when you're in sports on television, you don't want a lot of competition. And the NFL is tremendous competition; they're the heavyweights in terms of television ratings.  And NASCAR has been one of the heavyweights too over the years.
   "All I can say is I was encouraged by the three or four weeks of increased ratings going into New Hampshire. Nothing against our great friends at Fox and TNT (which cover the earlier part of the NASCAR season) but that's the first time we've seen that all year.
   "So I'm disappointed with New Hampshire, in large part because I thought we had a great race and a great telecast.
   "But we can't worry about who's turning on what sets; all we can do is put on the best broadcast we can."

   Remembering: The third annual T. Wayne Robertson Memorial Golf Classic will be held October 26 at Tanglewood Park in Clemmons, N.C., and will benefit the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma and Sally's Angels.
   Robertson, who was killed in a boating accident in 1998, was one of the major powers in NASCAR racing during the R. J. Reynolds era from 1971 till his death. At one point late in his RJR career as sports marketing boss of the Winston-sponsored sport, Robertson was on the short list to become NASCAR president when the late Bill France Jr. retired.
    "Celebrating Dad's life and his contributions to this community are obviously very important to me, and in true T. Wayne fashion the only way to do that is to continue to give support to our local charities," Toby Robertson, T. Wayne's son, said.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

© 2010-2011 www.mikemulhern.net All rights reserved.
Web site by www.webdesigncarolinas.com