There Really Was A Race In Texas
I bid you welcome gentle readers, and as always, a cordial welcome as well to our assigned reader of all things NASCAR… even the crazy stuff and the name calling.
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Now we return to discuss the excitement of NASCAR as that Chase thing draws to a close. There was a race at Texas Motor Speedway this past Sunday. Did anyone happen to notice? Jimmie Johnson… you remember him, our 6-time Champion… won the race, but no one cared. “They”, including NASCAR’s own site, nascar.com, called him a “Spoiler” because he is no longer eligible for their little party at Homestead. Then, “they” managed to take a “tweet” from one member of the warring factions to Jimmie, and turn that into bigger news than Jimmie winning the race! Methinks some folks have their priorities all upside down, but that’s just me.
That race at Texas was plagued with tire failure after tire failure, making it a bad day for some folks while others managed to recover from a flat or exploding tire and at least make a lead-lap finish. Have you ever noticed how caution flags come out at fortuitous times for some drivers while others go laps down under the same circumstance?
In discussion with Goodyear's director of racing, Greg Stucker, he said there was a myriad of reasons for the failures. Two were judged the result of cutting the tire on track debris… Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Most or all of the rest, in his judgment were products of “over-deflection.” Huh? I didn’t know what it meant either… so off I went and found a pretty fair description of what he was saying, on a site called www.crashforensics.com.
“Fatigue failures are
most typically caused by the over-deflection of the tire as a result of under-inflation
and/or overloading. Over-deflection will produce evidence on
the tire such as darkening of the inside wall of the tire, wrinkling of the
inside wall of the tire, and heavy abrasions on both the inside and the outside
wall of the tire.
Fatigue failures can also result from other conditions such as severe steering or axle misalignment. Alignment conditions can cause a tire to scuff under normal operation. Constant and severe scuffing of a tire will generate heat and will fatigue the tire. If scuffing caused by misalignment exists, it will be evidenced by irregular wear patterns on the tire tread.”
In our case, I think we can overlook the possibility of “overloading”, as all the cars weigh the same and that is closely measured by the sanctioning body. When asked by a girlfriend during the race what I thought was causing all those tires to blow, I said it was probably a combination of under-inflation and messing with camber beyond recommended limits. I’d say I get a gold star on that one, except that I wasn’t familiar with the term “Over-deflection.” Now we all are. Mr. Stucker wants to assign some of the blame to the weather conditions and the lack of rubber on the track. I might buy that if it were not for the fact that both the trucks and the Xfinity Series raced on the same track without exploding tires.
I do hope they come to the right conclusion and fix whatever problems are fixable because that is the exact tire compound we’ll see again at Homestead. Is there anyone in this world… including you, Brian Z. France… that wants this phony Championship decided by an exploding tire… or two or three? Talk about survival of the fittest! I never saw that concept as referring to tires. This is what happens when it all boils down to a single race kids. One of those tires could take out Jeff Gordon, or one or more of the yet unconfirmed trio he’ll be racing against. Even if the anointed four behave like good boys, don’t underinflate and don’t monkey with the camber, someone else’s exploding tire might take any one of them with it. Knowing we’ll be seeing that compound again at Homestead is not the most comforting thought I’ve had today.
We could tell by looking that the grandstands at Texas were far less than full. The entire backstretch seemed to be closed, and the “crowd” on the frontstretch, what we were allowed to see of it on TV, wasn’t all that impressive. The TV ratings were nothing to write home about either, even when broadcast on the Mothership channel, NBC. The following is from Sports Media Watch, and tells a sad story. Read it for yourselves; it needs no interpretation or spin from me.
“A move from cable to broadcast gave NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup a bump in the overnights.
NASCAR Sprint Cup racing from Texas, the eighth race in the Chase For the Cup, earned a 2.6 overnight rating on NBC Sunday afternoon — up a tick from last year (2.5) and up 13% from 2013 (2.3), both on ESPN. The 2.6 is the highest for the fall Texas race since 2011 (2.8).
The 2.6 is also the highest for any Chase For the Cup telecast this year, topping the previous high of 2.5 for Talladega on NBCSN, and the highest for any Sprint Cup race overall since Darlington on NBC over Labor Day weekend (3.4).
All four NASCAR races on NBC this season have had an increase in overnight ratings, with the caveat that the comparable races last year each aired on cable.
With that said, the numbers are not spectacular for broadcast television. The last time the Texas race aired on broadcast, 2009, it had a 3.1 on ABC. The last time it aired on NBC, 2006, it had a 4.0.”
Remember those splitters that NASCAR confiscated from 3 of the 4 Gibbs cars? (The 4th car, #20, driven at Texas by Erik Jones, was not found questionable) Despite a widespread rumor of tampering, supposedly supported by a raft of pictures on a small website, NASCAR apparently found after a thorough examination that no great sin had been committed, and for the second time this season, no penalties were issued on Tuesday. A similar occurrence involving the two Team Penske cars, was resolved earlier in the season in the same manner.
This is kind of a sad note on which to end the column, but it seems that our “Tasmanian Devil”, Marcos Ambrose, is hanging up his helmet and retiring from racing. Evidently he didn’t care for the situation as it was and has told Team Penske that he won’t return next season.
“"I've talked to Marcos and he has made a decision that if he's not the primary driver, he doesn't really want to be a co-driver”, Roger Penske said. “I think from a driving perspective he won't be in a car, but hopefully he will work with us on the commercial side. He'd still come to certain key races to support us.”
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ll miss you Marcos. I was sorry to see you leave NASCAR, but thought you were going home to something better.
Yes gentle readers, it can be done. Your scribe has just given you a full column without once mentioning the name of either of the pair that everyone else just can’t get enough of or say enough about. There really can be too much, even of a good thing, and nothing about that was a good thing. It’s past time to put it to bed!
Now gentle readers, it’s time for our Classic Country Closeout and while strolling through YouTube the other day, I came across a video from 1990 that highlights a Country Reunion featuring a couple of handfuls of Grand Ol’ Opry stars that we haven’t seen in quite a while and will never see again other than on video. This single one is just over 13 minutes in length, so it will be the only one for today. If you don’t have 13 minutes in your busy day for this, then you need to learn to relax and enjoy a good time. Smell the roses while you’re still on the green side of the grass…
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling. It looks so good on you!