Talladega Setup

The hauler has left Welcome, inside belts and tools shake to the rhythm hummed out by 18 wheels and a diesel. Inside the trailer the Dow Intellifresh number 3 Chevrolet sits silently, harnessed tightly, suspension compressed by chains shackling the several hundred horsepower securely to the trailer. Inside the car is a bible verse, freshly written by Whitney Ward for Austin.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.

The evil one this weekend is the dreaded, “Big One.” For this is Talladega. The 2.66 mile monster has its own reputation to uphold. If names are made in the Xfinity series, Legends such as Childress & Earnhardt. Legends who had reserved space in Victory Lane. 15 years have nearly passed since the black number 3 last resided in Victory Lane. If there was a place to pick up where the greatest driver left off, Talladega, Alabama would be a most appropriate place.

Austin Dillon has a Cup series average of 21, an Xfinity series finish of 10, and a Truck series average of 8. This all adds up to a lifetime career average of 13, less the momentum modifier of 6 positions above Cup series average for the year, would give us a projection of 7th.

Is this really what can be expected? Running the same chassis he finished 9th with in Daytona, 7th is not a stretch given that the masters of motors at ECR went to work to find an extra few horsepower. With Frank Mathalia tuning the engine you can bet they will have every last available RPM putting power to the track.

RCR has a homecoming of sorts every time it enters Talladega. The start of Richard’s top level career started at this very track during a driver strike. This track has been very important to the history and legacy of the company in it’s 40 years. If there is a track besides Daytona that is important to the entire team, this is it.

While the fans this weekend will still be yelling, “Earnhardt!” and “Junior!” I can make you a bet, every one of them want to see the 3 be number 1 at the end of the day. Austin continues to improve everywhere and this should be no exception. The more you race plate tracks, the better you get, the more you learn. I don’t look for the 3 to just have a good day, but a great day! The team has made several deposits in the luck bank lately with some bad luck, so it’s time to take out some of the good.

The hopes and prayers and dreams of a nation rest on the lid of the 3 car. #AD3nation will be watching and waiting and hoping. We are all in this together, watching and waiting… For our chance… To celebrate.

Ecclesiastes 7:8 Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride.

Thats what it will take this weekend to see Victory Lane.

Couch Sessions: Fan extraordinaire @iHopeDavis

Welcome to the second installment of “Couch Sessions” your go to source for race therapy. Our innocent bystander today is none other than @iHopeDavis

CCC: Thank you for coming deep sea fishing with me.

Hope: Deep sea? We are fishing in your Koi pond!

CCC: My neighbors actually and if you don’t quiet down he will kick me out of here again.
Hope: Again?
CCC: It’s only the fourth time.
Hope: Fourth?
CCC: This week. But don’t worry, he usually doesn’t call the police when I have friends with.
Hope: …
CCC: not this again..

 
CCC: how long have you been a NASCAR fan?

Hope: I have been a Nascar fan since I could walk.

CCC: Wow! Impressively long time. What is the biggest change you’ve seen in NASCAR that you can remember?

Hope: The biggest change I think I have seen is after the death of the best driver ever, Dale Earnhardt. The safety changes that Nascar has made for the drivers was for the best. But let’s not forget that actually letting a woman drive in Nascar is also a change for it being a man’s sport. I am glad that Danica had made this impact on girls everywhere.

CCC: Danica has opened a lot of doors in many series, I think it’s a great thing. Like her or not she has accomplished something. Speaking of women in the racing world, are you surprised to see more on pit road?

Hope: I am shocked that women haven’t been working on pit road longer than they have been. I think some women can do a way better job then some men. But Honestly I am very surprised that there are more women working in the race field. They have more balls than I do. I honestly couldn’t do it.

CCC: Speaking of working on a team, let’s say you did, which position would you like to try the most? Even if just for a day.

Hope: That is a hard one…. Either the driver or the crew chief… I think I rather be the driver because I love to drive fast.. and Crew Chief because then I could yell at people all day and get paid for it!

CCC: HaHa! Love it. Who is your favorite driver or team currently and how did they win you over?

Hope: I am a Harvick fan, but I also love me some Smoke.. So I guess you would call me a Stewart Haas Racing team fan. Harvick won me over when he took over for Dale and he is one hell of a wheelman.. Great driver and a great person in general.

CCC: We’re you at all surprised by his move to SHR?

Hope: Very, But he did what was best for him and his future. I think even when SHR switches to Ford next year I do see him staying with SHR.. I think he is going to stay with SHR because he knows the he can win more Championships with SHR than any other team.

CCC: I was just about to ask about that too! I don’t think even a switch to HMS would benefit him more. If you were in charge of NASCAR for 1 day and you could do anything (except kicking out a driver) what would you do first?

Hope: I think I would let the drivers fight it out. I think if you do something as in wreck Joey (I love Kenseth for doing that) I think then they should be able to duke it out. I think they should be able to beat the shit out of each other. Except they wouldn’t be able to hit Danica. She could hit them but they couldn’t hit her, the drivers wives or girlfriends would have to fight Danica.

CCC: Haha I hope Danica doesn’t tangle with DeLana any! Who would win in a fight between those 2?

Hope: oh hell, you know I got my money on DeLana.. I adore her and freaking love her. She is one awesome cookie… I have had the chance to speak to her numberous times on Twitter.. She is funny and nice.. I think that it would break Keelan’s heart if Mommy and Dayday would fight.

CCC: Well sometimes a woman has to take care of what her husband can’t on track! Next year do you see Tony going Richard Childress, taking off his Rolex and grabbing someone in a headlock?

Hope: Oh hell yeah, I see that happening.. we all know about his temper (not saying its a bad thing) But he has been in numerous fights and he won most of them.

CCC: I can’t remember him losing one! With his departure as one of the bad boys of the sport, who do you think will try to fill that and fail, miserably?

Hope: That’s a toss up… Let’s see… I see Joey trying seeing that he loves to whine and complain about everything.. Kyle Busch he is just like Joey with that whole whining and complaining… And let’s throw in some Brad K.

CCC: Haha! Pretty much all of today’s bad boys of racing are failing, is what you’re saying.

Hope: Pretty Much….

CCC: Which is worse, failing at the bad boy persona or the vanilla answers from some of the other drivers?

Hope: I think that most of the drivers are scared to speak their minds because they are scared to get fined.

Hope: So lets go with the vanilla answers.

CCC: So NASCAR needs to butt out and let men be men and speak their minds?

Hope: Hell yeah they do… Let them speak how they are feeling.. They shouldn’t have to sugarcoat anything…

CCC: I completely agree! Finally, you know I do a lot of live tweeting of the 3 team, as a fan of another driver, how do you think they are doing this year? What’s your perception of the team so far in 2016?

Hope: You want to know how I think Dillon is doing? I think Dillon is doing good.. But honestly I don’t see him winning any races this season, but then again I could be wrong.. I think that my team, SHR, is doing great this season. We have a win and many more wins to come this season. We have Smoke back in the car for his last season which I see some wins for him too. Kurt is doing good, not as good as I wish he was doing and Danica is doing awesome this season besides wrecking a lot, but she does that a lot.

CCC: I hope you don’t mind me saying, but I really want Austin to prove you wrong. Thank you so much for your time! Any last thoughts you’d like to add?

Hope: I hope he does prove me wrong. I honestly think that would be a good thing… I would like to add that the cops are here and they are staring at you because you have no pants on but you got your feet in the Koi Pond… so on that note I think I am going to run… I don’t look good in Orange

CCC: Haha! Don’t worry, I’ll keep them distracted in my Menard’s green Boxer Shorts!

 

Thank you you very much to @iHopeDavis for her time and sense of humor and her insights. Remember, anyone can be on “Couch Sessions” for their race therapy, with me… Couch Crew Chief. Thank you for reading and keep your nuts tight, especially the one behind the wheel.

Richmond Rollout

Night has set in and the AAA Chevrolet SS has been loaded and Dennis Gammons has turned it toward Welcome, North Carolina. The crews are homeward bound and ready to rest. As the diesel thunders down the highway, we can all reflect on the day.

“It’s about how hard you get hit and keep moving forward!”

-Rocky Balboa-

The day started with an Austin Dillon FaceBook takeover for NASCAR and a huge track walk sponsored and arranged by AAA. I saw some things in the FaceBook takeover that really bother me, normally I don’t do this, but I’m going to say it… If you log on to be an ass, you make yourself look a fool. Austin is 25 and more mature than half the old people who had to make rude and crappy comments out there. You want to play compare and contrast to Dale Earnhardt Sr. then let me remind you of something. He would have been 51 in 2001. In 1980 he would have been 30. In 1975 when he was 25 he was pissing off drivers on the short tracks and just wanting a shot. You expect Austin to be at Dale’s level? You are nuts. If you don’t have nothing nice to say, don’t say nothing at all. Grow up!

When the green flag flew Austin started 11th and fought up to around 9th. As he ran the car got snappy loose late exit and a little loose on entry. After pit stops this became more problematic. Throughout the day the team worked on it and went back on adjustments. Josh Shipplett wielded the wedge wrench like a sword, going back to it on every stop.

Just past mid-race there was a loose rear wheel, the right rear as reported by Good Year racing. This happens. The 3 team is currently on the 4 lug nut plan like many teams. In order to remain competitive they have to be. Loose wheels are bound to happen. Don’t put this on the tire changer, he is busting his knuckles to do this job as best he can.

Caution caught the 3 down a lap, we got the wave around quickly and got caught up immediately after. Austin had a tough day with traffic in the pits which hurt them, the crew before that had kept even on stops and gained a position even. The day just kind of went bad to worse.

The takeaways from today? The 3 ran well, the crew never gave up, Austin showed a lot of grace and maturity and even made a comment that he had been very complacent with everyone today. The young man really fought hard to move forward. His restarts this week were the best they had been all year!

Its a process. Things are looking up, the team is growing organically and Austin is showing growth and maturing as a young man and driver. Applaud that!

For those keeping track of my Pit Stops For Hope bet with Frank Mathalia the score is currently; Frank: 2, Couch Crew Chief: 3. These are bets I do not hope to win. I have chosen to throw any crashes or blown motors out of the equation. Things like that cannot be helped. As a team we accept it and move on, that’s what the bossman, Slugger Labbe, says.

Finally, I want to thank all of you reading this. My blog hit 100 views this week for the first time ever. I know it was a little gimmicky with the give-away but it means a lot. I do this as a hobby and I do it for you. I enjoy what I do here and if not for you I would not keep trying to grow. I look forward to all the future interactions and I thank you for the future views and likes and retweets.

If that doesn’t wrap it all up nicely for you, always remember… At the end of the day, the hero still gets the girl.

 

Couch Sessions: @Speedy_T_Rex

Welcome to a new feature I call, “Couch Sessions” which is meant to be an interview series. Obviously, I need people to interview, so here’s who I am looking for:

  1. Everyone. Simply put, I don’t care if you are a fan, a sponsor, a driver, a blogger, a mechanic, a crew member, the spouse of a crew member, the engine tuner, the fabricator, the owner. The world of racing keeps going round. I don’t care if you watch NHRA, NASCAR, WeatherTech Sportscars, IMSA, IMCA, SCCA, Mazda MX-5 series. I want to interview, you. If you want to remain anonymous, you can. As long as you have an opinion and something to say. These articles are meant to be entertaining and informative. So let me know you want to be interviewed and let’s enjoy.

Today’s innocent bystander happens to be my friend and cohort, you may know her from Twitter as, @Speedy_T_Rex.

CCC: Welcome Speedy, you’re the first ever interview for me on this blog. Ever been interviewed on horseback before?

Speedy: Horseback? This is a carousel! And you made me buy my own ticket…

CCC: There’s no free rides here.

Speedy: YOU MADE ME BUY YOUR TICKET!

CCC: I wanted to ride the boats….

Speedy: …

CCC: I felt that eye roll.

CCC: You’re the updater for Martin Truex Jr., for those who don’t know, how long have you been doing this?

Speedy: For just over a year now. I started after the 2015 Daytona 500. The Atlanta race was the first one I live tweeted.

CCC: So you had quite a year then. Running top 10 followed by an emotional victory, and a manufacturer change. What was the biggest moment for you as the updater?

Speedy: My biggest moment last year was probably live tweeting the win at Pocono. I’m sure that sounds a bit like a cop-out, but it was actually an interesting challenge at the end. Adrenaline doesn’t care if your fingers need to type, and mine were shaking like crazy even before the checkered flag flew. I wanted to cheer the win but I had to stay focused on doing my job.

Speedy: Though I should add that there are other moments that stand out almost more vividly than that one. But that’s one of the biggest highlights.

CCC: Is there anything you leave out of your updates that is said over the team radio?

Speedy: Rarely. Other than the times when someone says something incoherent on the radio–which I usually try to mention–there isn’t much I don’t tweet. The only specific time I chose to withhold something said was during the 500 when they were discussing a plan over the radio involving the Gibbs cars. This is a competition and I don’t want to post something that could take away from that. But I still made mention of what I did as part of the update.

I want my followers to see the raw side of racing that isn’t shiny and clean all the time like they show on TV, and I feel like being transparent as often as possible is the easiest way to give them that.

CCC: So you’re very aware that other teams may be monitoring your Twitter feed as an alternative to the team’s live radio, how likely do you think it is that multiple teams may monitor your feed?

Speedy: Yes, that was something I was aware of as a possibility from the get-go. I honestly can’t say if other teams are tracking my feed or not. Though I’d be honored that the competition found what I did valuable enough to follow along. During the race, chatter usually doesn’t give away any great miraculous secrets. I think teams are automatically aware that the scanners are available for anyone to listen in on, so they are careful about giving out the nitty gritty. But, again, if something is said that I feel is too risky to mention, I’ll leave it off. Also, if it came down to whether they were pitting or not, by the time what was said is transcribed and sent out, the action is already finished and so they couldn’t use that in the moment.

CCC: Speaking of transcript, as an updater I don’t get to see your feed much during a race but I have noticed your driver has, at times, been annoyed with the 3 car. Do you think that has more to do with them having worked together the past few years and expecting a break or just the fact that the 3 car is so much better now than in the past and is putting up a lot more fight leading to prolonged battles?

Speedy: I’d say the answer is two-fold but not because of either option you gave (but I see what you tried to do there, Couch). I think that occasional annoyance comes from the friction of different driving styles mixed with the level of driving experience that he sees in others. MTJ is a level-headed and (usually) calm driver and I think his comments come when he’s frustrated by a driver somehow forcing him to drive in a way that isn’t his norm. You know, or if he thinks a driver just did a boneheaded move. When it comes to the 3, from what I’ve seen via you, Couch, is that they’re driving styles are quite different and I think that’s where those comments come from.

Now, this is just my personal observation. I can’t say what the real answer is, only MTJ could do that.

CCC: As an outside observer you have unique perspective. What are your thoughts on the 3 team this year?

Speedy: There’s a lot of passion coming from the 3 team this year. They seem like a younger bunch, overall, and seem eager to bring that energy to the sport. Which is probably mostly centered around your driver and his personality. But, there’s more maturity there than last year and the proof of that is coming from how they’re running this year compared to last. It’s actually fascinating to see the obvious differences between my updates and yours. I think it helps show how each team is unique in their own right even though we’re all after the same thing and go about it in similar ways.

CCC: Speaking of other drivers, any truth to the rumor that you got hair gel in your eyes from sitting behind Jamie McMurray on the airplane?

Speedy: Now Couch, you know I try to avoid throwing people under the metaphorical bus or, in this case, plane.

CCC: I guess we will never know! Let me ask you this then, what drives you to keep doing the updates?

Speedy: It has been and always will be for the fans. Not that I ever need to be reminded, but every time a follower tells me how much they appreciate what I do or how glad they are that they found me, I’m given further proof of why I do this. Fans drive sports and racing is no exception. I’ve been on almost every side of the racing industry and I think that helped me figure out how much of a difference good updating can be to a fan. Fans and followers might not be involved with a racing team but live updating gets them one step closer and helps build a deeper connection.

CCC: I agree completely. The fans are an absolute inspiration and it’s not always fans, sometimes it’s family members of people on the team, sometimes it’s someone who has a question and DMs me because they want to know without distracting others. It’s the followers who feel closer through updates. Any final thoughts for the readers?

Speedy: Don’t ever go on a carousel with Couch. I don’t know how the hell you convinced the person to keep this thing going the whole time but I swear I’m dizzier now more than a driver after 500 laps at Bristol. We might be going left but this is one tight turn.

Or was that not what you meant? Ha.

CCC: Ha, I told him you tipped well! Let’s go ride the boats. This one is on me. Thank you for visiting with me on the first of my new series, “Couch Sessions.” Have a good night, good luck this weekend. Just finish 2nd to the 3.

Speedy: I hope the readers know they can say hello at any time over on Twitter. I enjoy the interactions as well as the questions that I sometimes receive. I might not be right on top of them during the madness of a race but I try to answer everything as quickly as I can and to the best of my abilities.

Speedy: Thank you for the interview invitation. I enjoyed it and hope I kept everyone entertained. Good luck this weekend to you as well. You know we refuse to step aside for anyone, especially the 3, but I’m sure it’ll be a helluva time fighting for the top spot. And speaking of which, I hope you’re ready to lose at boat racing.

CCC: The boats are all tethered together and I want to get on first. Hahaha

Speedy: Just you wait, friend. Just you wait.

Be be sure to follow your Martin Truex Jr. updater on Twitter @Speedy_T_Rex

***Some situations in Couch Sessions may be completely fictional. The views expressed herein are solely those of the interviewer and the individual interviewed. Couch Sessions was filmed before a live studio audience.***

Richmond Setup

Welcome to the “Old Fairgrounds!” The 1986 battle between Dale Earnhardt & Darrell Waltrip still live on at this 3/4 mile, D shaped oval. Boasting a mere 14 degrees in the turn, this is a 1/2 scale copy of Texas.

The Fairgounds have not been nice to Austin in Cup series contention. Hanging with an average slightly above 26th position it would be easy to write him off this weekend for many. The saving grace, Xfinity series he holds better than a 9th place average.

We all know how the math works, 26+9=35, 35/2=17.5 (18). Austin’s momentum number has dropped to just 6 positions above average. 18-2=12. So, that’s the projection.

Now, let me say something before we part, though the last few weeks have been tough, this is a team that pulls together. The new chassis that are coming out of RCR are fast. This team needs a little luck. They need a spark. They need something special, that’s why I am encouraging all of you to cheer the entire team, tell all of them how great they are doing. They have been busting their butts and if not for a few poor happenstance they could be in Victory Lane.

So this is my last big “ask” of all the fans. Give the team a hand! Tell them how awesome it is to see that 3 car running up front. Let’s give them that spark!

I’ll see you in the box.

-CCC-

“Making love and music’s the only things worth fighting for.”

New Power Generation by Prince-

1958-2016

Sheetmetal Giveaway

Thank you followers! That is the first of 2 messages this contest will be about. The second… I want you all to deliver a positive message to Austin Dillon and team. The more you participate, the better your chance of winning.

First thing is first though; Richard Childress Racing, Austin Dillon, Dow Racing, Chevrolet… Do not endorse me, reimburse me, fund me, approve any of my messages. This is me, giving to you. I do not expect them to do anything for me. I am a fan who loves a team. I want that team to be pumped up for the weekend. This is where you come in, you want the sheetmetal, here’s what you have to do.

Starting now… I want you to tweet Austin, Slugger, Andy Houston, and any other member of the 3 team on Twitter, a positive and inspiring message. No spamming! One message each. We don’t want to annoy them, just pump them up. What’s the message? It could be anything positive! Then, use the hashtags…

Example: @austindillon3 Good luck @RIRinsider I know you can win! We believe in you! #AD3nation #CCCgives3

Make sure you use both hashtags! We want to get #AD3nation trending and #CCCgives3 is how I will track this. I will randomly select someone to win free sheetmetal piece on Sunday before engines crank. It may be older. It will be an RCR driver. Remember, this is for fun. This is positive.  Keep it happy, keep it positive. Please, only do it if you are sincere. Contest open to anyone and everyone who reads this and follows @couchcrewchief on Twitter.

 

*****UPDATE*****

I like the enthusiasm I am seeing, so I’m gonna help you out.

The twitter handles for the amazing team members.

@austindillon3 (Driver) @ahouston95 (spotter) @sluggerlabbe (The real Crew Chief) @greg_ozz (Car chief) @sjgolembeski (tire guru) @SimplyGladman (undercar) @mrabrown2 (interior) @MathaliaFrank (horse trainer/engine tuner) @rattocr3 (aerodynamics) @r_sparks_3 (engineer/don’t want to hear him on the radio) @horns_abney (jackman) @tyrader55 (gas man) @jasonpulver (front tire changer) @bbottlemy (rear tire carrier) @joshshipplett (rear tire carrier) @sethchavka (engineer) @RChildress3 (HIM) @Daddy_Dillon (The other him)

Sponsors.

@DowRacing @Cheerios @AAA_MidAtlantic @AmericanEthanol @TeamChevy

Team Twitters.

@RCRracing @RCR3ADillon

These are the people who get it done so we can enjoy watching the 3 car. Remember, be respectful, keep this a happy and positive message. They bust their butts and knuckles day in and day out. All of these names can be referenced on RCRracing.com if you are interested.

Overly Opinionated: Fixing the All-Star event

I think I can speak for most of us fans when I say, “The All-Star has not been an all star event.” The gimmick segments are just long enough to annoy us. Charlotte has not been a must-see track. We lost the pit crew competition. There’s not much to look forward to I’m afraid. So, let’s fix it!

Step 1: NASCAR is a team sport, not just a driver sport. Bring back the pit crew competition. This is as easy as rewarding the fastest crew in qualifying. There is no excuse not to have it, NASCAR isn’t going broke so they can sponsor it until an event sponsor picks it up. Then there’s the car, remove the restrictions. Let the crews in the shop go wild. 6 speed transmissions, no mandatory spoiler angle, no restriction on splitter. All that should be ruled on is the size of the motor and the body construct.

Step 2: Move the race. Charlotte has been lack luster at best and we see it enough. So let’s find a track that would challenge all drivers that nobody races on normally. I propose Daytona. Yes, I know we race there twice a year, but we never do the Daytona Road Course. Combine a completely abnormal car on an obnormal track once a year, no restrict or place, no restrictions on motors or transmissions. It could be a blow out! Think about it. The shop teams would shine, small teams could gear up for this race to pay for their year. The cars can be as fast as drivers are willing to go.

Step 3: Let all charter teams in. All 36. They are paying to be there but running every week. Then have an open event for any and all drivers and teams who want to race in the All Star. If Red Horse Racing wants to build 1 car to run the All Star, let them! It encourages those teams to fight to move up. If they can beat the charter teams, they are All Stars.

Step 4: Make it a 2 part event. 10 lap first segment, just so drivers can get the feel of the track and their car. Then a 50 lap segment where the $1,000,000 is paid out in portion to whoever leads that lap. $20,000 every lap to whoever leads that lap. The overall winner can get a bonus too. Make the drivers race and care about every single lap.

Step 5: Make it the fan event it should be. $10 ticket prices, pack the track, sell concessions, let people watch from the infield, bring in the Ferris wheel. Make it a celebration of the fans, make it a celebration of the teams, make it a celebration of the entire sport. Let the drivers do what they do best, put on an unscripted show without burning laps under caution.

The All-Star was once an prestigious event, now it feels like a formality. Give it back to the fans and the teams. It doesn’t have to be a wreckfest, just let it be different. Let it speak for itself. If you want fans in the seats and viewer ratings on TV, you have to make it must see. Then change the track every 5 years to a different track that is a high speed road course. Face it, we don’t have much to lose right now. This isn’t your grandfather’s NASCAR, so why are we pretending like it is?

Thats just my opinion. Feel free to discuss with me! I love your feedback.

-Jonathan A. Gruenke-

“I guess my opinion is all out of style”

-Merle Haggard, on Politically Uncorrect by Gretchen Wilson-