After many years as a championship crew chief and other roles on NASCAR teams, ESPN analyst Tim Brewer knows the answers to most racing questions. And for those he doesn't know off-hand, he knows where to get the answers.
ESPN.com's NASCAR Icons gathered some of your questions earlier this week and Brewer obliged with the following answers:
Hi Tim, thanks for serving us fans in such a manner as this. Regarding the road course setup in the cars: Do the cars retain a left-side weight bias as on the ovals, or is the weight symmetrically balanced in the cars?
Brewer: Any ballast that we have in the cars, we move to the right side. For the short track races, naturally we want all the left-side weight on the left that we can possibly get. We have the advantage of the driver sitting over there. But when we go to the road races, we take all the ballast out of the left-side frame rails and transfer it to the right side.
You've got some cases of a 200-pound guy sitting over on the left side and that's really hard to offset. But most of the guys have a hundred pounds of ballast in the car and they'll transfer it over to the right side.
When are Jack Roush and Doug Yates going to bring out their new engines? Are they going to be the modular V8s or the old push-rod V8s Ford no longer produces?
Spanish Fork, Utah
Brewer: I called for Doug Yates [Tuesday, July 15] morning, but he was out of the office. But I did talk with his assistant Tim Lancaster [director of production at Roush & Yates Racing Engines], and he says "No, the engine has not been submitted to NASCAR yet, but it will be submitted in the near future." And yes, it will be a push-rod engine.
When NASCAR takes engines to test their horsepower, do they take the whole car, or just the engines?
Brewer: They can do both and have done both. What they normally do when they impound the cars after the race they'll run on their chassis dyno that's in the garage area. And that's just basically to define acceleration; it's basically power over weight and they're getting a baseline there. Now when they confiscated the engines in Chicago the other day they actually pull the engines out of the car, put them on a truck and they take them to the tech center in Concord [N.C.]. And they will run each engine individually and calculate the horsepower, the acceleration graphs and they'll do an overlay of all of them and see which one's better; the bottom end, midrange, top end and determine which has the most power.
Why did Carl Edwards pit toward the end of the Chicagoland race to fix the front splitter? He pitted earlier, came back out and was gaining spots. He was a lap down, but was able to make it to the end on fuel, while everyone else still needed to pit. So why did he pit then when everyone else did also? Before that, TV showed him passing people. Then he pitted to get the splitter taped up, and that was all she wrote. It seemed an awfully conservative play. Isn't he in a position to be chasing wins, not points? The cautious pit strategy seemed inappropriate for the situation.
Brewer: I'm going to have to agree with Ryan. I think that was a really conservative call, and I called for [Roush Fenway Racing general manager for Sprint Cup team operations] Robbie Reiser [Tuesday] morning and at this point in time he hadn't called me back, but you need to know that each crew chief is on his own agenda. And we don't have the privilege to listening to the conversation that took place between Carl and the team. You don't know if it was fuel mileage or if Carl thought that if you got the splitter taped and really repaired that he would get some additional downforce in the front of the car, which these cars are notorious for not turning in the center of the corner. So if they made that pit stop anticipating making the car a lot better, and in anticipation of a lot better finish, that's what they were thinking.
But you have to keep in mind that when a crew chief makes a call he's doing it to improve his position and give him a better opportunity to win the race. You don't simply shoot yourself in the foot for no reason. So when you're listening to your spotter's input, the driver's input and everybody agrees that "Hey, we need to go to pit road and try to repair our car to be better at the end." But there again, it was a conservative call but apparently they knew something we don't.