Michigan Setup

What a week. The rain delay at Pocono left the 3 team damaged and disturbed. After a brake failure the team was relegated to a finish that hurt a lot of pride. The race itself didn’t have many highlights for the team, the 3 car ran between 20th and 25th all day. With Austin feeling “knock-back” in the brake pedal all day it is easy to see why he would be apprehensive entering corners especially after the 27 had brake failure.

So, what happened to the brakes? I honestly am not sure, I can only speculate. With the same thing happening in Dover and happening to the 27 but all having different brake packages every week, there seems no real reason. The nearest I can figure is that they got in a bad batch of rotors. I have worked in an iron foundry, there’s actually a lot of metallurgical science in it. The chemistry make up of the metal itself plus there’s the finishing process after the molding process. Too much carbon and it could be brittle, too much silica and it could be too soft. Not heated long enough could result in an inadequate mix of elements so you could develop little pockets of carbon. When superheated, this could cause a warping or even breakage. If RCR got in a batch of rotors that is bad, they may have to isolate date codes and pull them out of system to be analyzed or returned. Again, all speculation.

As for the weekly bet, Frank and I remain tied at 4 as I do not count part failures for or against either of us. In the end this is all about helping Pit Stops For Hope. Remember to check them out, an amazing charity founded by Ray Wright, currently RCR pit crew coach.

Onto the 2 mile SuperSpeedway that is in Michigan. This track defines NASCAR. Long, fast, wide, lots of passing. 18 degree banked turns, 12 degree banking on the front stretch and 5 degree banking on the backstretch, this may be a driver’s dream track. You have to keep up your speed, get through the corner, pick up the throttle fast and book it down the straights. It’s all about momentum, if you got it, you’re on it. If you don’t have momentum, you’re only watching the race.

Austin enters Michigan down to 5 positions above series average for momentum. With a combined career average around 16th position it is unlikely that this is the track that will provide the breakthrough we are looking for. That being said, I am projecting an 11th position finish for Austin this week.

Is this “Doom & Gloom” thinking? No, absolutely not. This is a realistic finish, an 11th place finish would provide a return to positive results that we really need. Sometimes you have to go back to basics, finish, find the top 10, run in the top 10 all day and give yourself an opportunity to win. If you’ve ever seen the movie, “Escanaba in da Moonlight” you might recognize this quote…

“As old uncle Alphonse use to say, when you don’t know where to start, go back to the beginning.”

That may just be what the 3 team needs this week. The pit crew has been on it and the car has had speed, it’s getting it all to click together at the same time that makes winning happen, a return to the basics may be just that.

Good luck this week, stay safe, I’ll see you in the box.

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