Crew chiefs, drivers discuss tire used at Charlotte Motor Speedway NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams continue to wrestle with a 2015 rules package for intermediate tracks, one that was expected to enhance passing but thus far has provided mixed results. It's early, one-third of the way through the 36-race schedule, and teams will no doubt make gains as the season wears on. But it wasn't the rules package that concerned Rodney Childers following Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway . "I'll say it in the nicest way possible, but they have completely ruined Charlotte Motor Speedway with changing tires," said Childers, crew chief of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet with defending series champion Kevin Harvick . "You just can't race anybody and whoever was in front was just (staying) in front. You ride around 600 miles and can't pass a soul." This year's tire of choice for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte included a right-side tire that featured the multi-zone technology first used two years ago at Atlanta Motor Speedway . The inside two inches was the same compound run at Texas this season while the outer portion was the same used at CMS last year. Goodyear officials held two Charlotte tests, last December and in March of this year, to determine the tire selection. Tires using similar multi-zone technology have also been used at Richmond. Childers said the multi-zone tire has adversely affected the competition at Richmond and Texas as well. "It's so aggravating," he said. Harvick finished ninth Sunday night, the 11th top-10 of the year for the series points leader and winner of two races thus far this season. Carl Edwards ( Joe Gibbs Racing ) won Sunday's race thanks in part to better fuel mileage in his No. 19 Toyota. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., who finished third-place, spoke about the multi-zone tires after the All-Star race on his weekly "The Dale Jr. Download" on Dirty Mo Radio. "We've (run) it before at other tracks with sort of mixed results as far as how much we actually like the tire, how good the tire feels how good the tire drives," Earnhardt said. "I don't know … I didn't really like it that much this past race. "(The tire) is just really hard on that inside edge and as you might have seen in the All-Star Race when a lot of us tried to run the top we just were so loose and spinning out and getting into the fence, having a lot of trouble with that. So that tire really took away the top groove, I felt. I couldn't get up there and make much time." In spite of "mixed results at other tracks," Earnhardt said the tire does have at least one thing going for it. "It is safer, so you can't complain about that," he said. While there were nine lead changes in the first 100 laps of the 400-lap race, four came during an early competition caution and a later round of green-flag pit stops. The 22 lead changes for the race were the fewest (in a full 600-mile event) since 2004. "I'm happy for Carl and I'm happy for Darian (Grubb, crew chief)," said Childers. "They did what they needed to do to win the race and that's the end of the story. "More just disappointed in what we've got going on lately. We've got to work together and get the right tires on these things and make them where we can race each other. If you can't race, you're not going to put on a good show. That's just the way it is right now." Grubb said the use of the multi-zone tire gives teams "a little bit more of a margin of durability." "This used to be one of the tracks we'd come to and we'd be really nervous," he said, "especially if the rain came or something (and) the track got green. There's no way you can make a fuel run on the first set or two. You'd end up with cords on the outside and the inside of the tire." The multi-zone tire has made inside wear a non-issue. Grubb said his team saw no signs of distress on his team's tires. "So I think they've got the combination right for durability," he said. "It does give up a little bit of grip versus what the old tire did, but we'll pay that price to have some consistency and durability." Speaking of tires … Teams competing in this weekend's Camping World Truck , XFINITY and Sprint Cup Series races at Dover International Speedway will have a new left-side tire. The code is the same as what was run at Texas ( Sprint Cup and XFINITY ) earlier this year. It was also used at Texas, Chicago, Darlington and Homestead last season. Long race, few penalties For only the fourth time this season, fewer than 20 penalties were handed down during a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race with 19 being doled out in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 . The most common infractions were pitting before pit road was open (six) and excessive speed entering/exiting (four). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Miss Sprint Cup, driver Jeb Burton reward Randolph Middle School
Driver focused on current job, says 'the future will work itself out' NEWTON, Iowa -- Some way or another, it seems inevitable that Ryan Blaney , currently running part-time schedules in both the Sprint Cup Series (for Wood Brothers Racing ) and XFINITY Series (for Team Penske ) is bound for a full-time Cup ride in 2016. With Roger Penske only fielding two full-time Cup entries for Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano in 2015, he loaned his developmental talent to the fellow Ford organization for roughly 18 starts to get his feet wet while future plans for the son of long-time Cup driver Dave Blaney get sorted out. As of Sunday, there have been no conversations about adding a third Cup team for Penske next season. "There hasn't (been any talk about a third Penske team)," Blaney said after wheeling the No. 22 to a fifth-place finish in the 3M 250 XFINITY race at Iowa Speedway . "We're working hard at doing what we can for the future, and that's with whatever team, you know? Our main focus is trying to finish out this year strong with the Wood Brothers." Talks about Blaney's future have intensified after the 21-year-old started third and finished fourth at Talladega Superspeedway earlier this month. An Associated Press report was published on Saturday in which Penske also confirmed that his organization isn't currently interested in expanding to three cars, but that a full season with Blaney in the No. 21 Fusion is possible, provided that enough funding is secured. "I'd hope there can be an extension … we're going to run him in about 18 races, so if we can get sponsorship for him, that gives him a chance to take a look at extending that through a full season next year. That would be our goal," Penske told the AP. "This is a partnership really with Woods' people and ours … we've got the technology and the ability to build the right pieces for them. It's like a brother-in-law." In the meantime, Blaney knows he can only control what happens on the race track, and his focus is on making the most of his time behind the respective wheels of both the Nos. 21 and 22. "We're excited to go to the (Coca-Cola) 600 next week. We're really pumped about that," Blaney said. "After our good run at Talladega and we tested at Charlotte and I thought it went really well; just really excited to get back there and we're always working to get towards the future. We can definitely have wishful thinking. "We really just focus on here and now," said Blaney. "I always say 'You do your job here in the present and the stuff for the future will work itself out.'" FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
XFINITY Series rookie visits Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Joliet Photo credit: Don McClelland As a Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Daniel Suarez says he's been doing his homework as best he can, oftentimes having to learn new and unfamiliar race tracks on the fly. Monday morning, on the heels of a strong race but disappointing finish the previous day at Iowa Speedway , Suarez did his own schooling one state over, visiting Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Joliet, Illinois, to talk about the importance of technology and mathematics. The assembly also came with a surprise perk -- 1,000 race tickets, enough to send the whole school's enrollment plus family members to the series' race June 20 at nearby Chicagoland Speedway (9:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM). "It was pretty fun and makes me think a lot because the last group of kids we had, it was from 10 to 11 years old and it made me think that when I was that age, I was about to start in racing," said Suarez, who ranks 10th in the XFINITY standings. "It was really cool. All those kids were super-excited about all of us. Now they have tickets to go, without a question. I'm excited about that and looking forward to seeing all these kids again next month." Suarez's own role as a student has meant plenty of adjustment in his first full XFINITY season driving the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota, visiting new circuits and adapting to the pace of longer races than the NASCAR K&N Pro Series that sparked his development. Yet when he returns to the Land of Lincoln, it will mark the 23-year-old driver's second race on the 1.5-mile track, a facility he lauded for its multiple grooves and high-speed layout. Suarez finished 15th last fall in a one-off event for RAB Racing at Chicagoland in just his second career XFINITY start, but it's an experience he hopes to build upon when the series returns for Father's Day weekend. "For sure, it's different because at least you know what to expect," said Suarez, who is also running a part-time schedule for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this season. "In those races where I've never been before in the past, you're learning about everything -- about the racing line, everything. I know that when I do my homework to watch video and get information about the race, everything is still difficult. "It's still a process. But for all these races where I've been in the past, I feel like my confidence and my knowledge about the race track is a little better." His learning process thus far has been on an accelerated upturn, especially on the series' short tracks, where he's logged his best finishes of the season -- second at Bristol and sixth at Richmond. That streak ended Sunday at Iowa Speedway , where he led a career-high 48 laps early on before sliding back somewhat in the late going. His chances for a top-five finish, though, slipped away when his car sputtered out of fuel with just two laps left in regulation. "It was just a difficult day in many ways," Suarez said. "Looks like we had a pretty strong car in the beginning of the race, but the race track changed a lot and the line changed a lot as well. We improved the car some, never quite like at the beginning, and then we ran out of luck and ran out fuel. That pretty much ended our day, but at the end of the day, I felt like we had a top-five car. I feel like we ran most of the day in the top 10, top five, and that's a good thing, but definitely we have to keep working, keep learning about our mistakes and be better for next week." Next week comes quick for Suarez and the rest of the XFINITY regulars with Saturday's Hisense 300 (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM) at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the backyard of NASCAR's business hub. His studies for this weekend haven't started just yet, but it's by no means due to procrastination. "Not yet, actually. We are here today in Chicago and just finished yesterday in Iowa, so my homework is going to start tomorrow," Suarez said. "But I feel good about Charlotte. I've never been on the race track in a race, but I had a test in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at the beginning of the year, so I know a little bit about the track. It's straightforward, it's fast, it's very narrow, but I feel like we're going to have a pretty good car one more time and we're going to try to be competitive." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Groundbreaking system will change landscape of sport MORE: Data rules, but human element still key CONCORD, N.C. -- NASCAR officials will no longer be standing alongside crewmen to police pit stops in 2015, but that doesn’t mean the sanctioning body won’t be watching what takes place. A new, technologically driven system that incorporates the use of 45 cameras will feed video of every stop made by every team to a central location, where eight officials will log pertinent information and report any violations. "This is a great new innovation," Shawn Rogers, Managing Director of Business Operations for NASCAR, said Tuesday as he previewed the system for members of the media. "I think it will probably change our sport, put us finally at the tip of the spear with technology . "Paramount to us, we always want to increase our safety when possible, increase our accuracy … be consistent and above all these days, be transparent." How will it work? Each of the cameras will display two specific pit stalls. Once a car is on pit road, the individual cameras will record its progress as it moves through each area. The use of tracking software and pit road scoring loops identifies and verifies each car. That same system software tracking its movement will indicate any infractions, such as too many men over the wall or driving through too many pit boxes when entering or exiting the pits based on information ingested prior to the event. If there are no infractions logged by the system, one of the eight officials will still monitor the stop, noting the number of tires taken, whether fuel was added and whether any changes (chassis adjustments or repair to a damaged area, for example) to the car were made. Infractions fall into three groups -- vehicle (such as pitting outside pit box), equipment (leaving pit box with gas can still attached, etc.) and personnel/crew (too many men over the wall; over the wall too soon, etc.) When the software picks up an infraction, it will be displayed on the monitor where an official will quickly view the stop and either confirm the issue (and subsequently notify the tower) or clear it if it can be determined that no infraction took place. As an example, Rogers provided video of a driver that stopped just beyond his pit box last year when pitting, and the system flagged the infraction. However, crewmen quickly pushed the car back into its box before beginning to service it. Therefore, there was no penalty, and under the new system, an official has the ability to remove and clear the infraction notation. Although it was in place during the final portion of the ’14 season, the system was tested, but not used for official purposes. "We ran the system, full parallel testing, the final 11 races," Rogers said. "Our focus was to test out our hardware and software … train our officials and give them lots of reps with the system … and train our (operations) group." The expectation is for each pit stop to be viewed and cleared in no more than eight seconds and stops are prioritized -- those that are flagged as infractions are moved to the top of the list for immediate attention. The eight officials work through each stop until all have been cleared, reported when necessary and logged. Teams will be notified of any penalties that occur once a stop has been completed. "We’re not going to tell anyone of any violations until they leave pit road," Rodgers said. "That's how we do speeding violations now. So we don't get into this person found out a little bit sooner than that person. That could be different depending on circumstances, he said. "If 35 cars pit at once on the third lap of the Daytona 500 , some … could be told sooner than others." The use of the technology will change the number of officials along pit road. Instead of the approximately two dozen that policed pit stops last year, only 10 will be in the pits this year. And Rogers said they would be stationed behind pit wall where they can respond to any team inquiries and monitor actions from that side of the car when necessary. The officiating system will not be used at stand-alone events for the NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series, according to Rogers. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
NASCAR's executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O'Donnell talks about the new pit road technology and rules package for 2015.
Each week a tech question is answered on GarageCam presented by Mobil 1 RELATED: Mobil 1 Technology Center Each week the host of NASCAR.com's GarageCam presented by Mobil 1 will take an automotive technology question and get it answered by the experts in a NASCAR garage. This week, Clay Rogers explains the technology of the dashboard gauges in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car. Be sure to tune in to GarageCam presented by Mobil 1 next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway and see another question answered. Sprint Cup Series GarageCam, presented by Mobil 1: noon ET, Friday, Nov. 14. ( Watch here ) Nationwide Series GarageCam, presented by Mobil 1: 11 a.m. ET, Friday, Nov. 14. ( Watch here ) MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
Find out what the NASCAR Research & Development Center is doing to improve safety, innovation and technology in the sport.
Each week a tech question is answered on GarageCam presented by Mobil 1 RELATED: Mobil 1 Technology Center Each week the host of NASCAR.com's GarageCam presented by Mobil 1 will take an automotive technology question and get it answered by the experts in a NASCAR garage. This week, Nate McGuire, a tire specialist for the Tommy Baldwin Racing team discusses valve stems and how they can cause problems during a race. Be sure to tune in next season for GarageCam presented by Mobil 1 to see another question answered, while also getting a tour of the garage area. Thanks for tuning in to GarageCam for the 2014 season and we look forward to bringing you up close in 2015. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView
This NASCAR Automotive Technology Series features Courtney Hansen explaining some of the advances in firesuit and helmet safety through the years of NASCAR.