Fabian movies into the position after serving as the managing director of technical integration at NASCAR, where he oversaw post-race technical inspection at the NASCAR Research and Development Center.
Fabian’s experience includes serving as an over-the-wall crew member, a crew chief and a 10-year tenure at the defunct Michael Waltrip Racing.
A native of Everett, Pennsylvania, Fabian joined NASCAR in April 2016.
“With his vast experience across the industry, Jay Fabian is uniquely suited for this position,” Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s executive vice president and chief racing development officer said in a press release. “Jay’s steady leadership and depth of knowledge are tremendous assets that will greatly benefit the series and all of NASCAR.”
Fabian will report directly to Scott Miller, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition.
“This is a fast-paced sport that is constantly evolving, and I’m thankful for this opportunity and eager to take on the challenge,” Fabian said a press release. “Racing has been my passion for as long as I can remember. There is growing anticipation for the 2019 season, and I’m looking forward to being a part of an outstanding team that will help build our sport.”
Fabian’s passion for racing stretches to his own son’s career.
He documents Brady Fabian’s karting career frequently on Twitter.
Racing and working on cars is about all I’ve even known. I wish I could explain to folks that “curse” if you will. It’s the worse addiction a person can have. My son loves racing, and I love him, so here we are. Had an issue in practice tonight, now we’re working…not giving up. pic.twitter.com/waKxuY7ZB9
Q: Last weekend NASCAR told the media there were no issues after post-race inspection and Kyle Larson’s car was not taken back to the R&D Center, so how was the infraction discovered?
Buck: Generally, what we do is when we finish at-track inspection, we let you all know that it’s all clear for the at-track inspection part. Consistent with our process, we go back to the R&D Center and there may be developing issues or more inspection, etc. That’s what took place last week. We took the piece back to the R&D Center from the 42.
Q: What was wrong with the piece?
Buck: Our rules are very specific on the DVP (Damaged Vehicle Policy). The Damaged Vehicle Policy is a collective effort from the industry and it is was heavily weighed upon by all the teams and owners and developed as such and is very detailed and very strict rules. Those rules are very clear. One of the rules that was a part of this process was that on the Damaged Vehicle Policy if you have a panel or a piece, the piece can be replaced in its original position only and it can only be re-attached by bear bond, tape or fasteners, which is screws or rivets. So it’s very clear. We don’t allow any other brackets or panels or flanges or any of that type of stuff. On (Larson’s car), they had an issue with a tire, it damaged the fender, they proceeded to cut the fender off. They went back out, they met the minimum speed for the Damaged Vehicle Policy, so they weren’t on the clock. They decided to straighten the fender out, the piece that they had cut off. They straightened that out and then they re-attached it with two aluminum tabs, two tabs on each one. That’s where the infraction was, was attaching them with the tabs.
Q: What if an official sees something like that happen. Is it the responsibility of the official to stop the team or just let it go?
Buck: “As we always do, our officials are challenged with multiple tasks on pit road. It’s a very dynamic situation out there. If they do see something, they will try to help the teams out, they’ll try to inform the teams, but understand we’re not like other sports. We can’t call a timeout. The teams are on DVP, which is a six-minute clock, there are a limited number of team members over. The teams know the rule very clearly. In fact, the week prior to that, as I often do, I went ahead and sent out a memo, which was exactly that, a reminder of the DVP, we cut and pasted that right out of the rule book. That went to all the crew chiefs, all the car chiefs, team managers and technical directors just as a reminder.”
Q: Since they were no longer on the 6-minute clock, they would have had all the time to repair it?
Buck: Correct. But it says very clearly under the Damaged Vehicle Policy that you cannot replace a panel, you cannot add tabs, it can only be re-attached in its original location, the original part with bear bond, tape or fasteners. It’s very clearly stated.
Q: NASCAR saw the issue after the race and took the part to the R&D Center and the policy is pretty cut and dry, why wasn’t this settled after the race?
Buck: That’s our process. It’s been consistent.We won’t make a decision on that immediately at the race track. We’ll take it back to the R&D Center and do the research on it. That’s our process.
Inside Richard Petty Motorsports: A day filled with highs, lows
EDITOR’S NOTE: Dustin Long is spending this week with Richard Petty Motorsports to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at all that takes place before a race. Watch for his stories each day through Sunday.
BRISTOL, Tennessee — Bubba Wallace bounced up the four steps to the lounge of his team’s hauler and announced his presence with an expletive.
It wasn’t uttered in anger but exuberance.
“I’m wore out!” the 24-year old Cup rookie said, beads of sweat on his forehead, after Friday’s opening Cup practice at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The intense 15-second laps left Wallace speaking in short bursts as he described the car’s handling to crew chief Drew Blickensderfer, engineer Derek Stamets and director of competition Philippe Lopez.
Wallace’s arms moved up and down and side to side as he talked, showing Blickensderfer how the car reacted on the high-banked half-mile track.
While Wallace’s fastest circuit in the opening practice session ranked 29th of 41 drivers, his times compared favorably the more laps he ran. Another practice remained to fine-tune the Chevrolet Camaro before qualifying for tonight’s Cup race (6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).
This gave the team hope. It had been more than four months since Wallace last scored a top-10 finish. Anticipation built in the shop this week as the Cup series returned to Bristol. It was here in April that Wallace drove the same car he’s running this weekend to the front and led six laps — the first laps he’d led in his Cup career. He seemed headed for a top-10 result that day, but a blistered left front tire left him with a 16th-place finish.
A strong result could help the team as it searches for sponsorship and entertains potential suitors tonight. Richard Petty Motorsports seeks sponsorship for half of the remaining 12 races after Bristol. Without those sponsorship dollars, the team is not able to buy all the new parts bigger teams can, have as many people working in the shop or build new cars as often. That impacts performance.
But at Bristol, a team can run well without all those dollars and with a limited crew. They just have to work harder.
Blickensderfer walks across the track at 7 a.m. Friday to help unload equipment from the team’s hauler before the garage opens at 7:30 a.m. But he spends 15 minutes examining a hub on a left rear wheel of the team’s hauler after Jeffrey Icenhour said a warning light illuminated on his way to the track.
When the garage opens, Blickensderfer and the crew unload the car and push it to pit road, which serves as their garage Friday since Bristol’s infield has no stalls.
While his car goes through inspection, Wallace’s day officially begins at 9:30 a.m. with NASCAR’s mandatory rookie meeting. Wallace is first, arriving five minutes early. Richard Buck, managing director of the Cup Series, notes Wallace’s punctuality. Blake Jones, Ross Chastain, Jesse Little and William Byron soon arrive and the 10-minute meeting begins. Buck details various practice, qualifying and race procedures and notes where the traction compound has been placed on the track in the corners.
Former Cup champion Kurt Busch attends to offer advice. He reminds the rookies “how fast things move here.” He’s talking about what happens on the track but it also describes how the weekend’s ebb-and-flow can suddenly change.
The day’s pace quickens. Opening Cup practice goes from 10:35 – 11:55 a.m. ET. Wallace and his team stop 15 minutes early, a penalty for failing prerace inspection twice last weekend at Michigan.
Not long after the meeting that Wallace bounded into the lounge for, he’s back in the car. Final practice goes from 12:40 – 1:50 p.m.
After making a run in the session, Wallace radios his crew: “Little bit freer in there. We’ll have to guard that for the race.”
He uses the first part of session to run several laps in a row to prepare for the race— just as he and did in the opening session.
After a few adjustments, he returns to the track. Blickensderfer watches from atop the team’s hauler so he can see how Wallace’s car reacts. Lopez watches on a laptop in the hauler, surrounded by multiple TVs hanging on the wall. One shows various camera angles of the track and weather radar, another displays detailed lap time information of any driver they want and plots those laps on a graph, and a third TV shows a view of the cars exiting Turn 2, going down the backstretch and into Turn 3.
Lopez calls the computer program he’s watching on his laptop a cartoon. He can view the animated version of Wallace’s run in real time. Lopez can call up any driver on the track or a previous run by any driver in that session and overlay their lap on the track with Wallace’s to compare. The computer program also shows the throttle trace and brake pressure for each car simultaneously.
This allows Lopez to see where another driver might be accelerating sooner to show Wallace. Lopez matches Wallace’s lap against those of Kevin Harvick, Ryan Blaney, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., among others, throughout the sessions.
As Lopez watches Wallace’s run on the computer, Wallace’s car suddenly goes through the wall.
What has actually happened is that Wallace scraped the wall but the fender damage was minor.
“I don’t know how we didn’t hit it,” Wallace tells Lopez later.
The incident proves to be a good point to switch to the qualifying setup.
While the crew makes the adjustments, Wallace stands behind his car on pit road and looks toward Turn 1. Richard Petty, in his black jeans and white collared button-down shirt, walks over the pit wall and takes his long stride toward his driver.
Petty puts his arm around Wallace and talks to him. Wallace nods as hears about every other word over the roar of the cars that scream by every few seconds.
When Wallace returns to the car, he is fast. He finishes the final session 12th on the speed chart with a lap of 15.37 seconds (124.792 mph), although not every team made a mock qualifying run in that session. Still, it’s something to feel good about. But work remains, as Wallace, Blickensderfer, Stamets and Lopez again meet in the hauler’s lounge.
“So from run to run, it got tighter,” Wallace says, sitting in a rollaway office chair that he maneuvers to be next to Blickensderfer. “And so trying to carry speed through (Turns) 1 and 2, you’re pushing the limits. And then hit the bump and sh-woof, like it shoves you this way and snaps you loose.”
“Both the second and third laps?” Blickensderfer asks. Yes is Wallace’s response.
“So we can go more on the second adjustment,” Wallace continues. “But I like the way it felt. I didn’t get all that I could out of it, just didn’t expect it to be that good up top for the (fast lap) we ran. (Lopez) said Harvick initiates throttle a little bit more. Just starts a little bit more. I know I can do that. … Just go out there.”
Blickensderfer reads from his notes, saying how after the first run Wallace said they needed to turn better. After adjustments, it didn’t turn any better next time on track.
“So whatever adjustment we did didn’t react or we need to go more. I’d say it’s probably both,” Blickensderfer says.
“What did you do there?” Wallace asks.
“Raise the trackbar up both sides,’’ Blickensderfer says. “That’s what got you to kind of pivot the time before. I’ve got many notes here of your second qualifying run being loose in that now you’re running the top …”
“It doesn’t matter,” Wallace says, finishing the sentence.
Wallace then discusses entering pit road and the brakes, noting how rough it is when he applies them, telling Blickensderfer that it makes a ffttt-ffttt-ffttt-ffttt-ffttt sound.
Wallace also asks Stamets and Blickensderfer to “give me something” to help his car over the bump off Turn 2. Blickensderfer tells Wallace how high Larson and Blaney are running in the corners. Blickensderfer also mentions how he’s observed most of the field exit the corner in Turn 2. Blickensderfer goes over Wallace’s laps and notes
Dale Inman, Hall of Fame crew chief for Petty, walks in and is soon followed by spotter Freddie Kraft, who stands in the walkway because there’s no room to sit down. Kraft and Wallace discuss the lines he ran through the corners and how they compare to other drivers.
Wallace studies the lap times and notes how well they ran: “P12, when’s the last time we’ve seen that?” He gets up to leave and will return a few hours later for qualifying.
If he can repeat that, he’ll likely be among the top 24 to advance to the second round of qualifying. If he does that, maybe he can squeeze more speed out of the car and make it into the top 12 and advance to the final round.
Wallace went out halfway through the 15-minute opening round in qualifying. His time was worse than he had run in final practice. As more cars make runs, Wallace falls outside the top 24. He makes another qualifying attempt. He is on pace to climb into the top 24 when he loses time in Turns 3 and 4 and qualifies 27th with a lap of 15.43 seconds.
Blickensderfer walks into the hauler first. Wallace follows a few strides behind.
Wallace says the car was too loose.
He turns and shouts: “On to tomorrow!”
Wallace walks out of the hauler and slams the sliding doors shut.
Moments later, the crew enters the hauler.
They have been at the track for 11 hours and assaulted by noise the entire time — from generators, power tools, cars and even the public address system, which made sure any moment without sound was filled.
Inside the hauler, the air conditioner hums. Radios and headsets clank on the countertop as the crew puts them away.
A rules video played in the drivers meeting stated: “Drivers, this is your warning. Race above the yellow line. If in NASCAR’s judgment you go below the yellow line to improve your position, you will be black-flagged. If, in NASCAR’s judgment, you force someone below to yellow line to prevent them passing you, you may be black-flagged.”
Ryan Newman was the lone driver to ask a question about the yellow line rule. He sought clarification on the rule and about a car’s position on the track, noting that Haley appeared to be ahead when his tires dipped below the yellow lines coming to the checkered flag.
Richard Buck, managing director of the Monster Energy Cup Series, responded to Newman’s query:
“It’s very clear on the video of going below the yellow to advance your position. That’s at any time.
“What is considered going below the double yellow lines? It’s your left-side, the inside of your left-side tires, when they go below the inside line, that’s when we get involved.”
The Cup Rule Book addresses the rule on the double yellow lines in section 10.8.3. It states:
.a Vehicles must race above the double yellow lines around the entire race track. If in NASCAR’s judgement, the vehicle(s) goes beneath the double yellow lines to improve its position, vehicle(s) will be black-flagged. If in NASCAR’s judgement a vehicle forces another vehicle beneath the double yellow lines (in an effort to stop the advancement/pass) the vehicle may be black-flagged.
.b NASCAR defines beneath the double yellow lines as follows: when the vehicle’s left side tires are beneath the left line of the inside double yellow lines that separates the apron from the racing surface while passing another vehicle.
“The show was better,’’ Harvick said on his SiriusXM NASCAR Radio show on Tuesday night. “Bottom line, the show was better to watch. Like I say, I don’t know that everyone can wrap around their arms around restrictor-plate racing every single mile-and-a-half race. I think the cars need to be faster. I think we need to figure out which race tracks that we want to race them on because the All-Star Race was a good test, but it wasn’t a 100 percent test of this is where we need to be and everybody just wants to jump right there.’’
As to running the package again this year, Harvick said on his show “Happy Hours” that the decision will have to come from others:
“That’s going to come down to NASCAR and the teams and whether they can financially make that happen and efficiently make that happen with the engine shops and all the people involved. The hardest thing about all of this is how do you do that. If I had to make a choice, and it was my decision, I’d love to see it on the race track in a true environment. In my opinion, we kind of dabbled something out there that everybody tried and looked really great on TV, but what’s going to happen when everybody is prepared, everybody is at the race track, there are 40 cars on the race track. What it’s going to look like then? I don’t think anybody knows.”
Hamlin is open to running the package again this season.
“As a driver, I had fun, I really did,’’ he said Wednesday after unveiling a FedEx Cares paint scheme for his car at Daytona in July.
“Didn’t have the fastest car, but at least there were moments where you had to be very strategic in what you had to do. It was a mix between a normal open race and a superspeedway. … I’d like to see it at a few other tracks. if it came this year, It would definitely be OK by me.’’
So where to run it?
“I think Michigan is the perfect race track for it honestly,’’ Hamlin said. “There’s no better track that I can think of than Michigan to have a package like this. Pocono would be another great candidate for it. Anywhere you got long straightaways where drafting could be a big factor would be a good place for this package to go.’’
The Xfinity Series is scheduled to run a similar package at Pocono (June 2) and Michigan (June 9).
If NASCAR chose to run the package in Cup at Michigan on June 10, what kind of challenge would it be for teams to make the switch?
“I think JGR and Toyota could actually do it and probably be at the forefront as anybody, but I think the engine package is probably a bigger concern,’’ said Mike Wheeler, crew chief for Hamlin, noting that engines are done further ahead of time. “I think as far as setups and tire data and areo data, we can get there pretty quickly. I’m not sure about other teams. Ultimately we didn’t have the parts to play with to do the testing beforehand. We would do that before we went there with points on the line.’’
Harvick suggested this package actually could be used elsewhere.
“I think that this would be a great Daytona and Talladega package,’’ he said. “It would be great to see the Daytona and Talladega package to be able to be the same type of package that you run at Indy, Pocono and Michigan, so that you could have the engines be able to be used. If you had to adjust the spoiler size and maybe the splitter size here and there to be able to get the speeds where you want them to be, instead of adjusting the engine, I think that would be more efficient for the teams.
“It’s still going to come down to a dollar and cents type of thing. In the end, the teams are the ones that flipped the bill to put on the show. … How do we make it efficient for the teams?’’
Richard Buck, managing director for the Monster Energy Cup Series, said “we’ve heard a lot of great response from the fans.’’
But he cautioned Wednesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio of doing too much too soon with the package.
“There’s a lot to digest there and that’s what we’ll do, we’re only a couple of days removed from the event,” he said. “There’s still a lot of data to look at. It definitely passed the eye-ball test.
“We’ll circle back with the industry. We’ve got some of the brightest minds and engineers and engines builders and manufacturers and we’ll all collectively take a look at it and start working on the details of what was good and what could be better and we’ll take that into the future for sure.’’