What drivers said at Charlotte Roval

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Here is what drivers had to say after Sunday’s playoff race at the Charlotte Roval.

Chase Elliott — Winner: “Well, I just had another really fast NAPA Camaro and really appreciate the effort. I feel like road courses have been fortunate to us the last few trips, but I feel like we just try to get a little better every time and tweak on the small things. I feel like I tweaked on some small things and got a little better than what I was here last year, which was good. And, I’m just really proud of the effort. It’s always special to win here at Charlotte with the shop being right across the street. I appreciate all the effort there. The best way to get into the next round is to win and so, hopefully we can do something with it.”

Joey Logano — Finished 2nd: “We won our league (laughing) because no one was beating that other car — Chase Elliott and Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and that whole 9 team. They’re light years ahead of us when it comes to the road course, I mean everybody even their teammates. I can’t really put my finger on it. I got a good look of what it was and watched him cruise around not even trying and he would keep on driving away from me. Overall, I’m proud of what our Shell/Pennzoil team did today. We had to come in here and execute.  Obviously, there were plenty of crazy things that could have happened starting in the rain, going to slicks, stage points, trying to get ourselves in position. Obviously, there were times that (Kyle Busch) was in the spot and we were racing (Alex Bowman) with only a couple points between us, so it was close, it was stressful, but I feel a lot better now and will be able to sleep well tonight and then fire away to try and get into that Championship 4.”

Erik Jones — Finished 3rd: “I knew we were there and had tires. We were in a really good spot, but I knew that (Chase Elliott) was really fast and has been pretty tough to beat here the last few years. They’ve got something figured out, they’re really quick here. I was just kind of losing time to him everywhere. He caught me and I couldn’t hold him off more than a couple cars. The Craftsman Camry was good, it was good to get a top three. Probably a little bit better than what we ran, but we’ll definitely take it.”

Kurt Busch — Finished 4th: “It was a great improvement for our road course program. I’m really proud of everybody at Chip Ganassi Racing; looking at issues and working on what we need to do improve. Whether we were locked-in or not, we came here to go for it. I’m really proud of how our race unfolded. We just seemed to cook the rear tires after about 15 laps into a run, but we had really good braking, so I had to use my strength. I was ready for (Martin) Truex to banzai it in there, I was like ha, ha, I got you bro! He (Truex) axle-hopped, hit us and I was able to recover quicker than him. Really good day for our Monster Energy team, just wasn’t as fast as (Chase Elliott). I’m glad he is on to the next round along with Alex Bowman, we got as many Chevy’s as we could pushed through to the round of eight.”

William Byron — Finished 6th: “Yeah today was a tough one. I’m really frustrated with the speeding penalty. I felt like I was to the good and I obviously wasn’t so I’ll have to go back and look at it. Overall, today was a good day though. We led a lot of laps and felt like our car was capable of running up front with (Chase Elliott). I would have liked to see what we could have done there at the end and battled with him. Either way it was a good day for us and we’ll go on to Kansas and try get a win.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 7th: “Had a little bit of a run on them coming to one to go and probably stuffed it in there a little too far. Tried to get out from inside of (Kurt Busch) and hit that water back there and from there it was all over. Little too aggressive there at the end. Overall, just a so-so day for the Bass Pro Toyota. We had decent speed, not winning speed, but had a lot of fun out there, especially in the rain.”

ALEX BOWMAN — Finished 8th: “(Advancing) means a lot to me, but also to my race team. These guys work really hard all year. I feel like sometimes my team at least doesn’t get the respect they deserve. I feel like it kind of like validates all their hard work. Obviously we have a long way to go to try to make the Round of 4 at Phoenix. These guys work so hard, do such a good job, give me such great racecars. I’m really happy for them. I wish I could have been a little better today. We struggled with our race car quite a bit. Still ended up with a solid top 10, had what we needed there for points. (How he was feeling in the car) Didn’t feel too well. My nerves got to me more than I would have liked. I think it’s one of those deals under green you’re fine, but when it’s like caution after caution after caution, sitting there under caution just wasn’t feeling so good.I’m all good now. Definitely was nervous, though.”

Cole Custer — Finished 9th: “We had a lot of ups and downs today. The HaasTooling.com crew stuck with me today and the pit crew did a good job. I think we learned some things today with road courses that we can use in the future, which is a positive.”

Clint Bowyer — Finished 10th: We had them covered in the rain and we were one of the fastest in the dry, but those cautions at the end of both stages came at the wrong time. Then that wreck killed us because we lost power-steering. The guys gave me a great car today.” (About going to the care center after the race) “I’m good. Was definitely outta gas. Another couple, three laps and I’d have been on the ground after the race crappie floppin’. Self inflicted. I shouldn’t have knocked the power steering out.”

Kevin Harvick — Finished 11th: “It was definitely interesting. Our car was just way off handling-wise. We were just way too tight and had no drive up off the corner, whether it was wet or dry. We struggled with our Mobil 1 Ford and still probably should have finished somewhere seventh or eighth, but didn’t have the car where we needed to and wound up on the wrong side of all the strategies and things, but everybody did a good job and kept battling. It was actually a lot of fun.”

Tyler Reddick — Finished 12th: “Every time I come to a road course, I grow as a driver. We had a great No. 8 Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen Chevrolet today, and I want to thank my team for working with me all day long. It wasn’t an easy day, but we all kept with it and improved throughout the race. It took a little bit of Stage 1 to re-familiarize myself with the course, so I spent a lot of that stage being careful to not overstep and wreck. After a pit stop and adjustment during the second stage, I was able to rotate a lot better all throughout the track, which helped me gain a lot of traction on the field. We had a couple cautions fall later during the race that helped us with some track position a little bit, overall, it was a really good effort by my No. 8 team today.”

Ryan Preece — Finished 14th: “It was a solid day all around for our Maxwell House Chevrolet. We were really good on the long run, and were able to play the strategy and lead laps for the first time this season. Ultimately, the tires wore out and it affected our handling and we weren’t able to hang on to the lead, but I’m really proud of the work everyone at JTG Daugherty Racing put into our road course cars this season and give me something that we could work on during the race and continue improving all race. We finally have had a really good string of races, and we’re going to keep on building off of that for these final four weeks.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 16th: “It was tough. I struggle here in particular. I’m not the greatest road course racer, but specifically here has always been a challenge for me and I just struggled all day. We really struggled on the rain tires and I spun out over there in that water that was draining across the racetrack in Turn 4, and then we had an issue with a pit gun or something on pit road and got a lap down. We fought hard. It was definitely a fight, but just not the day we needed for sure to move on, but we still got a few races left to go perform at the highest level we can and try to get the most points we can. I’m still really proud of our season and proud of the effort of this team.  We’ve got some racing left to do and hopefully get this Smithfield Ford Mustang in Victory Lane in one of these last few.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Finished 17th: “Road course racing traditionally has not been my favorite, but we’ve been able to put together a few strong road course runs this season in our Kroger Chevrolet. We had a really special paint scheme this weekend honoring Breast Cancer Awareness month and names of JTG Daugherty Racing family members that have been affected by breast cancer. I’m honored to have our public relations director Jennifer Chapple on the car as she just fought a battle of her own to beat breast cancer. We had a restart where I thought we could really put ourselves in a good position to lead and stay at the front, but had contact that spun us and lost that position. Fortunately, we still had time to get back in the top-20 and still have a strong day for both myself and my teammate.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 18th: “(The race) started off real strong in the rain and there’s part of me that wishes it would have just stayed raining, believe it or not, but once it got dry I just kept falling off too much on the long run. I’d fire off real good and fall off and couldn’t keep pace, so I’m thankful that’s over. It’s a testament to the four wins we have earlier in the year. It gives us those bonus points and made this a lot easier day than it looked like it was gonna be, and we’ll move on to hopefully four good race weeks for us.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 19th: “We tried our hardest, but nothing fell our way toda. We were looking pretty good at the end of Stage 1. We took tires and got to fifth by the end of the stage, but an unlucky caution happened and that cycled us. We knew we were dead meat at that point because we didn’t have dry tires on, so we pitted at the end of Stage 1 to try and jump some people. That backfired on us because we had to go to the tail end of the line since pit road wasn’t open. We just had a lot of stuff happen to us today. Again, a caution fell late in Stage 2 while we were running 12th. We had no help from cautions. The race just didn’t play our way. I’m actually pretty happy with our performance as far as my road course racing has been. I feel like I’ve improved. I raced hard all day.”

Bubba Wallace — Finished 21st: We survived thank the lord! Apologies to the 47 team. The run before that dumb move, I was mad at myself for not being aggressive enough…welp found my limit.”

Ty Dillon — Finished 23rd: “Well, we got another stage win – our third as a team – which is a huge accomplishment. I’m so very proud of our GEICO team. Today was another fun day and I had a blast behind the wheel. We didn’t finish exactly where we wanted, but we made a bold call there at the end right before that last caution came out to try and make it to pit road before it closed. That ended up costing us some track position, but to finish 23rd with a stage win feels like finishing 13th. It feels fun to win anything. I’m so thankful for everyone at Germain Racing and we will keep chugging along to finish strong.”

Daniel Suarez — Finished 25th: “We came here with pretty good expectations but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. We started out on a wet track but it ended up drying pretty quickly. Our Coca-Cola Camry was pretty decent – I think better than a 25th-place car – but we ended up struggling with the brakes and that is not a good thing on a road course. It made it pretty tough to race people all day.”

KYLE BUSCH — Finished 30th: “Just trying to get everything we could get. You come into a race like this and you throw a couple Hail Mary’s and they rarely work, especially when you don’t have the car. That (Chase Elliott) car is spectacular here and it was superfast. I followed him for a lot of laps trying to figure it out and he just gets smaller and smaller as he’s driving away. I don’t know, it’s not just this race. It’s a whole season and it’s a culmination of things that led to this and led to our elimination. We knew it coming into this round that this was going to be the hardest round for us to get through. Pretty much impossible and it was. We weren’t able to make up enough or get a win. We’ll just have to fight for a win here the rest of the year.”

Michael McDowell — Finished 32nd: “Well, not the day that we had hoped for with Love’s Travel Stops and Speedco. We had a decent car at times, but then we had something break toward the end of the race and we tried to fix it, but just couldn’t. It’s unfortunate for us because we had two good races: Talladega and then the ROVAL, where we could have scored a lot of points and didn’t. To Love’s Travel Stops and all of our other partners, I’m sorry that we didn’t get you guys a good finish today, but we’ll try to stay positive, keep plugging away, get it figured out and get ready for Kansas.”

John Hunter Nemechek — Finished 36th: “The Roval was not our friend today, unfortunately. Our No. 38 CITGARD Ford Mustang fired off pretty decent, but the rear end just stepped out on me in the first half of the race and I couldn’t save it. We pitted for damage repair and received a penalty that put us two more laps down and we couldn’t really recover from there. Sometimes mistakes just hurt. Hopefully it was still a good show for the fans. It was great that we were able to have them with us in in person at home. We’ll add what we can to our notebook for next time and get ready for Kansas.”

Appeal panel gives William Byron his 25 points back

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William Byron is back in a transfer spot after the National Motorsports Appeals Panel rescinded his 25-point penalty Thursday for spinning Denny Hamlin at Texas.

By getting those 25 points back, Byron enters Sunday’s elimination playoff race at the Charlotte Roval (2 p.m. ET on NBC) 14 points above the cutline.

Daniel Suarez is now in the final transfer spot to the Round of 8. He is 12 points ahead of Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric. Christopher Bell is 45 points behind Suarez. Alex Bowman will not race this week as he continues to recover from concussion symptoms and has been eliminated from Cup title contention.

NASCAR did not penalize Byron after his incident with Hamlin because series officials did not see the contact. Two days later, NASCAR penalized Byron 25 points and fined him $50,000 for intentionally wrecking Hamlin.

The National Motorsports Appeals Panel stated that Byron violated the rule but amended the penalty to no loss of driver and owner points while increasing the fine to $100,000.

The panel did not give a reason for its decision. NASCAR cannot appeal the panel’s decision.

The panel consisted of Hunter Nickell, a former TV executive, Dale Pinilis, track operator of Bowman Gray Stadium and Kevin Whitaker, owner of Greenville-Pickens Speedway.

Here is the updated standings heading into Sunday’s race at the Roval:

Byron’s actions took place after the caution waved at Lap 269 for Martin Truex Jr.’s crash. As Hamlin slowed, Byron closed and hit him in the rear. 

Byron admitted after the race that the contact was intentional, although he didn’t mean to wreck Hamlin. Byron was upset with how Hamlin raced him on Lap 262. Byron felt Hamlin forced him into the wall as they exited Turn 2 side-by-side. Byron expressed his displeasure during the caution.

“I felt like he ran me out of race track off of (Turn) 2 and had really hard contact with the wall,” Byron said. “Felt like the toe link was definitely bent, luckily not fully broken. We were able to continue.

“A lot of times that kind of damage is going to ruin your race, especially that hard. I totally understand running somebody close and making a little bit of contact, but that was pretty massive.”

On the retaliatory hit, Byron said: “I didn’t mean to spin him out. That definitely wasn’t what I intended to do. I meant to bump him a little bit and show my displeasure and unfortunately, it happened the way it did. Obviously, when he was spinning out, I was like ‘I didn’t mean to do this,’ but I was definitely frustrated.”

Drivers for Drive for Diversity combine revealed

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The 13 drivers who will participate in the Advance Auto Part Drive for Diversity Combine were revealed Thursday and range in age from 13-19.

The NASCAR Drive for Diversity Development Program was created in 2004 to develop and train ethnically diverse and female drivers both on and off the track. Cup drivers Bubba Wallace, Daniel Suarez and Kyle Larson came through the program.

The 2020 and 2021 combines were canceled due to the impact of COVID-19.

“We are thrilled that we are in a position to return to an in-person evaluation for this year’s Advance Auto Parts Drive for Diversity Combine,” Rev Racing CEO Max Seigel said in a statement. “We are energized by the high-level of participating athletes and look forward to building the best driver class for 2023. As an organization, we have never been more positioned for success and future growth.”

The youngest drivers are Quinn Davis and Nathan Lyons, who are both 13 years old.

The group includes 17-year-old Andrés Pérez de Lara, who finished seventh in his ARCA Menards Series debut in the Sept. 15 race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Also among those invited to the combine is 15-year old Katie Hettinger, who will make her ARCA Menards Series West debut Oct.. 14 at the Las Vegas Bullring. She’s also scheduled to compete in the ARCA West season finale Nov. 4 at Phoenix Raceway.

 

 

Name

Age Hometown
Justin Campbell 17 Griffin, Georgia
Quinn Davis 13 Sparta, Tennessee
Eloy Sebastián

López Falcón

17 Mexico City, Mexico
Katie Hettinger 15 Dryden, MI
Caleb Johnson 15 Denver, CO
Nathan Lyons 13 Concord, NC
Andrés Pérez de Lara 17 Mexico City, Mexico
Jaiden Reyna 16 Cornelius, NC
Jordon Riddick 17 Sellersburg, IN
Paige Rogers 19 New Haven, IN
Lavar Scott 19 Carney’s Point, NJ
Regina Sirvent 19 Mexico City, Mexico
Lucas Vera 15 Charlotte, NC

 

Dr. Diandra: Crashes: Causes and complications

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Two drivers have missed races this year after hard rear-end crashes. Kurt Busch has been out since an incident in qualifying at Pocono in July. Alex Bowman backed hard into a wall at Texas and will miss Sunday’s race at the Charlotte Roval (2 p.m. ET, NBC).

Other drivers have noted that the hits they’ve taken in the Next Gen car are among the hardest they’ve felt in a Cup car.

“When I crashed it (at Auto Club Speedway in practice), I thought the car was destroyed, and it barely backed the bumper off. It just felt like somebody hit you with a hammer,” Kevin Harvick told NBC Sports.

The three most crucial parameters in determining the severity of a crash are:

  • How much kinetic energy the car carries
  • How long the collision takes
  • The angle at which the car hits

Angle

The last of these factors requires trigonometry to explain properly. You can probably intuit, however, that a shallower hit is preferable to a head-on — or rear-on — hit.

A graphic show shallower (low-angle) hits and deeper (high-angle) hits
Click for a larger view

When the angle between the car and the wall is small, most of the driver’s momentum starts and remains in the direction parallel to the wall. The car experiences a small change in velocity.

The larger the angle, the larger the change in perpendicular speed and the more force experienced. NASCAR has noted that more crashes this season have had greater angles than in the past.

Busch and Bowman both had pretty large-angle hits, so we’ll skip the trig.

Energy — in pounds of TNT

A car’s kinetic energy depends on how much it weighs and how fast it’s going. But the relationship between kinetic energy and speed is not linear: It’s quadratic. That means going twice as fast gives you four times more kinetic energy.

The graph shows the kinetic energies of different kinds of race cars at different speeds. To give you an idea of how much energy we’re talking about, I expressed the kinetic energy in terms of equivalent pounds of TNT.

A vertical bar graph showing kinetic energies for different types of racecars and their energies

  • A Next Gen car going 180 mph has the same kinetic energy as is stored in almost three pounds of TNT.
  • Because IndyCars are about half the weight of NASCAR’s Next Gen car, an IndyCar has about half the kinetic energy of a Next Gen car when both travel at the same speed.
  • At 330 mph, Top Fuel drag racers carry the equivalent of six pounds of TNT in kinetic energy.

All of a car’s kinetic energy must be transformed to other types of energy when the car slows or stops. NASCAR states that more crashes are occurring at higher closing speeds, which means more kinetic energy.

Longer collisions > shorter collisions

That seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Who wants to be in a crash any longer than necessary?

But the longer a collision takes, the more time there is to transform kinetic energy.

A pitting car starts slowing down well below it reaches its pit box. The car’s kinetic energy is transformed into heat energy (brakes and rotors warming), light energy (glowing rotors), and even sound energy (tires squealing).

The same amount of kinetic energy must be transformed in a collision — but much faster. In addition to heat, light and sound, energy is transformed via the car spinning and parts deforming or breaking. (This video about Michael McDowell’s 2008 Texas qualifying crash goes into more detail.)

The force a collision produces depends on how long the car takes to stop. Compare the force from your seat belt when you slow down at a stop sign to what you feel if you have to suddenly slam on the brakes.

To give you an idea of how fast collisions can be, the initial wall impact in the crash that killed Dale Earnhardt Sr. lasted only eight-hundredths (0.08) of a second.

SAFER barriers use a car’s kinetic energy to move a heavy steel wall and crush pieces of energy-absorbing foam. That extracts energy from the car, plus the barrier extends the collision time.

The disadvantage is that a car with lower kinetic energy won’t move the barrier. Then it’s just like running into a solid wall.

That’s the same problem the Next Gen car seems to have.

Chassis stiffness: A Goldilocks problem

The Next Gen chassis is a five-piece, bolt-together car skeleton, as shown below.

A graphic showing the five parts of the Next Gen chassis.
Graphic courtesy of NASCAR. Click to enlarge.
The foam surrounding the outside of the rear bumper
The purple is energy-absorbing foam. Graphic courtesy of NASCAR. Click for a larger view.

That graphic doesn’t show another important safety feature: the energy absorbing foam that covers the outside of the bumpers. It’s purple in the next diagram.

All cars are designed so that the strongest part of the car surrounds the occupants. Race cars are no different.

The center section of the Next Gen chassis is made from stout steel tubing and sheet metal. Components become progressively weaker as you move away from the cockpit. The bumper, for example, is made of aluminum alloy rather than steel. The goal is transforming all the kinetic energy before it reaches the driver.

Because the Next Gen car issues are with rear impacts, I’ve expanded and highlighted the last two pieces of the chassis.

The rear clip and bumper, with the fuel cell and struts shaded

The bumper and the rear clip don’t break easily enough. The rear ends of Gen-6 cars were much more damaged than the Next Gen car after similar impacts.

If your initial thought is “Just weaken the struts,” you’ve got good instincts. However, there are two challenges.

I highlighted the first one in red: the fuel cell. About the only thing worse than a hard collision is a hard collision and a fire.

The other challenge is that a chassis is a holistic structure: It’s not like each piece does one thing independent of all the other pieces. Changing one element to help soften rear collisions might make other types of collisions harder.

Chassis are so complex that engineers must use finite-element-analysis computer programs to predict their behavior. These programs are analogous to (and just as complicated as) the computational fluid dynamics programs aerodynamicists use.

Progress takes time

An under-discussed complication was noted by John Patalak, managing director of safety engineering for NASCAR. He told NBC Sports’ Dustin Long in July that he was surprised by the rear-end crash stiffness.

The Next Gen car’s crash data looked similar to that from the Gen-6 car, but the data didn’t match the drivers’ experiences. Before addressing the car, his team had to understand the disparity in the two sets of data.

They performed a real-world crash test on a new configuration Wednesday. These tests are complex and expensive: You don’t do them until you’re pretty confident what you’ve changed will make a significant difference.

But even if the test goes exactly as predicted, they aren’t done.

Safety is a moving target.

And always will be.

NASCAR weekend schedule for Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval

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NASCAR Cup Series drivers race on the road for the final time this season Sunday, as the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval course ends the playoffs’ Round of 12.

The 17-turn, 2.28-mile course incorporating the CMS oval and infield will determine the eight drivers who will advance to the next round of the playoffs. Chase Elliott won last Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway and is the only driver who has qualified for a spot in the Round of 8.

Entering Sunday’s race, Austin Cindric, William Byron, Christopher Bell and Alex Bowman are below the playoff cutline. Bowman will not qualify for the next round because he is sidelined by concussion-like symptoms.

The race (2 p.m ET) will be broadcast by NBC.

Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (Cup and Xfinity)

Weekend weather

Friday: Sunny. High of 81 with a 6% chance of rain.

Saturday: Mixed clouds and sun. High of 67 with a 3% chance of rain.

Sunday: Sunny. High of 68 with a 3% chance of rain.

Friday, Oct. 7

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 12 – 5 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Saturday, Oct. 8

Garage open

  • 7 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. — Cup Series
  • 8:30 a.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 10 – 10:30 a.m. — Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)
  • 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. — Xfinity qualifying (NBC Sports App)
  • 12 – 1 p.m. — Cup practice (NBC Sports App, USA Network coverage begins at 12:30 p.m.)
  • 1 – 2 p.m. — Cup qualifying (USA Network, NBC Sports App)
  • 3 p.m. — Xfinity race (67 laps, 155.44 miles; NBC, Peacock, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, Oct. 9

Garage open

  • 11 a.m. — Cup Series

Track activity

  • 2 p.m. — Cup race (109 laps, 252.88 miles; NBC, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)