Driving Concussed This week brings the return of Jeff Gordon to the track, but under conditions I’m sure all of us wish were otherwise. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is out again (and will be next week) with “concussion-like” symptoms. Concussion, like many medical problems, is a chronic injury — meaning that it can…
Dive! Dive! Dive Planes… on Stock Cars?
A persistent motorsports issue (and not only with stock cars) is the aerodynamic passing problem. You can’t pass without grip. Grip is a direct result of downforce. Downforce comes from two places: the weight of the car (mechanical grip) and the billions and billions of air molecules hitting the car (a.k.a aerogrip).
Goodyear Tracking Change
Repaving is the last possible remedy a track wants to use, but when potholes (see: Daytona) show up, there is no choice but to tear up the old asphalt and replace it with new, fresh blacktop. In the last few years, Daytona, Phoenix, Michigan, Pocono and Kansas have all been…
Why was Michigan so hard on Motors?
The Hendrick engine shop had four failures at Michigan. The 24 and the 14 reportedly both had valve spring failures. The worst was the 48, whose engine went south while leading with only six laps remaining. Jimmie Johnson drove the car up to the hauler and walked back to his…
The Trouble with Pit Road Walls
We saw a very scary incident during the Cup race Sunday when Mark Martin was T-boned by the edge of the pit road wall. Luckily, the car hit the wall behind the driver’s seat — otherwise, that could have been very serious.
The ends of walls are probably the biggest safety problem NASCAR has right now. The SAFER barriers have radically improved the ability of drivers to walk away from standard crashes, but there are still some vulnerable areas.
Why 200 mph Laps at Michigan are not like 200-mph Laps at Daytona or Talladega
That fact that people are even talking about restrictor plates for Cup racing at Michigan International Speedway indicates a lack of understanding of the issues that give rise to concerns about cars getting airborne.
I touched on the difference between average and instantaneous quantities last week with the pit road speeding issue at Pocono. Instantaneous speed is the speed you are going at some particular instant. A radar gun measures instantaneous speed.
Infographic: Michigan International Speedway Pole Speeds
The red arrows indicate the first race after a repave. The pole speed for the Cup race is 12.9 mph more than last year’s pole speed. The previous record for the largest year-to-year change in pole speed is 6.5 mph.
Michigan: Don’t Believe the Speeds
All the talk at Michigan about high speeds and the hoopla over passing the 200-mph barrier prompts me to offer this caveat: Take the speeds you hear with a grain of salt because the average lap speeds are estimates, not measurements.
The Myth of the 200-mph “Lift-Off Speed”
The speeds at Pocono were high, but the speeds at newly repaved Michigan are even higher. Nine drivers posted lap times over 200 mph on Thursday, leading to media and driver hysteria about the high speeds. What is the lift-off speed at Michigan?