VHT Changes Complexion of Coca-Cola 600
CONCORD, N.C— Before the Coca-Cola 600 weekend began, VHT was added to the high groove at Charlotte Motor Speedway after a lackluster Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race the weekend prior.
This was the first time VHT was applied on an asphalt track. Many drivers came into the race cautiously optimistic about the VHT on the track.
After Saturday’s Xfinity race, NASCAR and Charlotte Motor Speedway officials applied more VHT to the groove because many drivers weren’t optimistic after the race.
Before the rain fell, drivers were itching their way into the groove with VHT. Kurt Busch attempted to run in the VHT groove during the race, but compared it to driving on ice.
After the race, Martin Truex Jr and Austin Dillon explained how the VHT changed the complexion of the race.
“I think it was a huge factor. I think last weekend the middle groove, middle to high middle, was nonexistent. It was the slickest part of the racetrack. Tonight for 375 laps of the 400 it was the main groove. Where typically there is the least grip on this racetrack, it was the most tonight,” said Truex. “It definitely played a factor. It changed the race quite a bit. I think the downforce rules this year changed it quite a bit as well. The bottom of the racetrack is so bumpy and so slick, I'm telling you after 10 laps it's all you can do to make laps without crashing down there. It definitely changed the race tonight. It made it a lot of fun, I thought. I thought it was a good addition.”
“I think it was pretty good to start the race. The middle groove took away from the bottom lane, which is pretty dominate here. After the rain, the bottom was pretty dominate. As the race went on, I could actually see the VHT leaving the track, and was getting clean higher and higher,” said Dillon.
When asked if VHT should be used on other asphalt tracks, Truex doesn’t believe it should be used on other asphalt tracks. However, Dillon would like to see it used more.
“I don't think so. I think this track is so unique, the pavement here, the geometry of the racetrack, the bumps that are in it. It's almost got a concrete feel the way the bumps are. They're really, really small, high-frequency bumps, almost like a washboard, kind of the feeling you get at Dover. Most asphalt tracks are not bumpy that way. They're more of a swell. The car kind of goes through swells, a place like Chicago or Atlanta. It's very, very different here. The pavement is different than anywhere we go,” said Truex. “The bumps in the racetrack are way different than anywhere we go. I think both of those things kind of contribute to us needing to do some different things here to change up the racing. I think it was a good addition tonight. I don't know what it would have been like had we not had it. The bottom was so slippery, I don't know if it would have been a good race or not. Just hard to say.
“We got something there as far as trying it. It’s not a bad thing. I really think we should try it more often. I think the next thing we need to look into is the placement of it. We needed more on the very top because the middle was really dominate, but you couldn’t really get into the top of it like you needed to. That would be my next thing. I like it,” said Dillon.
As the sport continues to enhance competition, VHT may be next on the list.
Truex Edges Logano for Martinsville Pole
MARTINSVILLE, VA -- Martin Truex Jr. will start from the pole in the second consecutive week in the Goody’s Fast Relief 500. Truex beat Joey Logano by .008 seconds in the final round. This is Truex’s fifth pole in 2016 and first pole in 22 races at Martinsville.
“Mostly because it’s Martinsville – I’ve been second here a few times. This place is just so tough and that first pit stall is just so critical to having a shot at winning here. I would love to get my first grandfather clock. And a little bit after last week, this helps a little bit. All in all, just proud of the guys for coming here with a game plan and executing,” said Truex Jr after qualifying was complete.
“I had a good center, when I went to the gas, I just got loose. I could get a good launch, I was just a little aggressive inside the car, may of cost us a little. But that’s what it takes here at Martinsville. You have to be right there on that edge to go fast,” said Logano after missing the pole position by a narrow margin.
The first round of qualifying saw Kurt Busch and Landon Cassill go out on the track and get heat in the car. After five minutes passed in the round. Jeffrey Earnhardt was the only driver to make a hard lap as drivers sat on pit road waiting for the track to cool. The caution flag flew in this round due to a spin by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. The caution once again flew as Austin Dillon hit the wall in turn one. Both driver wheel-hopped going into turn one. Once the track went green, there were no more accidents. No drivers will be sent home. Logano was the fastest at 98.323 mph, Tony Stewart was second at 98.145 mph, Truex Jr. was third at 97.785 mph, Denny Hamlin was fourth at 97.739, and Chase Elliott rounded out the top-five at 97.709 mph. Michael Annett was the only driver who did not post a time in the first round
The second round of qualifying went without accident. Elliott was the fastest in this round at 98.129 mph, Truex Jr. was second by .001 seconds at 98.124 mph, Ky. Busch was third at 98.114 mph, Stewart was fourth at 98.012 mph, and Kyle Larson rounded out the top-five at 97.790 mph. Chase drivers who did not advance include Matt Kenseth who qualified 17th, Kevin Harvick who qualified 20th, and Kurt Busch qualified 23rd. Notable drivers who advanced to the final round were David Ragan and AJ Allmendinger.
The third round of qualifying also went without accident. Truex Jr. was fastest at 98.206 mph, Logano was second at 98.165 mph, Johnson was third at 97.840 mph, Allmendinger was fourth at 97.729, and Elliott rounded out the top-five at 97.699 mph. Ragan was able to qualify 12th at a speed of 96.830 mph.
The NASCR Sprint Cup Series will have two practice sessions on Saturday at 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. on NBCSN in a final attempt to dial in their vehicles for Sunday’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500 from Martinsville Speedway.
Engine Woes Dash Chase Hopes
Brad Keseloski and Martin Truex Jr. saw their championship hopes dashed during Sunday’s Hellmann’s 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Truex Jr. was running in the top-10 for the first 40 laps. However, his engine expired shortly after green-flag pit-stops cycled through. The expiration of the engine was a surprise for Truex Jr.
“Just developed a vibration and started to lose a little bit of power. Originally I thought it could have been a tire because it was shaking worse and worse and worse until it was time to pit. I slowed down to hit pit road and felt the vibration still there and knew it was the engine,” said Truex.
After dominating the first round of the Chase, the second round started off on the wrong foot at Charlotte. Those struggles continued to struggle throughout the “Round of 12”. Truex described this round of the chase as a “rollercoaster”. He wishes he would have had better runs at Charlotte and Kansas in an effort to have a “free pass” this weekend at Talladega.
Despite his struggles in the second round, Truex is still confident and proud in his team. “They’ve worked so hard this year to put us in the position to battle for a championship and we felt like we could do it. This year and this sport is tough and we didn’t perform at Kansas and Charlotte the way we were capable and we had some issues there and that put us in the hole and if we could have went there and done better and maybe got a win then we wouldn’t be talking about this right now. We didn’t get the job done, but we’ve got a great team and we’ve got four more races to go out there and try to get a win and I know we can win all four of them and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
For Keselowski, his engine expired as he was running, but the problem could have been avoided. While leading the race, Keselowski had gained a piece of debris on his grille.
While leading the race, Paul Wolfe, crew chief, and Joey Mier, spotter, were arguing about what Keselowski should do to get the debris off. They finally reached a point of consensus to let Ryan Blaney get in front of Keselowski to get the debris off the grille. However, shortly after the move was made, the engine expired off the backstretch bringing out the caution.
“Something let go. I’m not sure exactly what, but it’s unfortunate. We had a really fast Miller Lite Ford and that kind of ended our day. It was a lot of fun to be leading at Talladega. I really like this track. It’s been good to us and there are a lot of great fans here today. We were doing the best we could to make a show of it and have some fun and lead some laps and just happy and proud to have a fast car,” said Keselowski.
Due to the engine issues, Keselowski and Truex Jr. were eliminated from the Chase for the Sprint Cup. The plan for both drivers is to win the remaining four races of the season.
Miller Addresses Qualifying Issues
Before NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying began at Talladega Superspeedway, inspection issues occurred for Hellman’s 500 pole winner Martin Truex Jr.
During inspection, NASCAR saw fit to confiscation parts from Martin Truex Jr.’s team before inspection began. NASCAR confiscated the jack screws from the No. 78 Toyota. Cole Pearn went to Twitter after the news broke to explain the situation. “A 5.5" LF jackscrew was replaced for a 8" that was mistakenly recessed to where a 5.5" is. Common sense/CG doesn't matter at a superspeedway,” said Pearn.
The story broke after a report by Motorsport.com. Pearn also tweeted, “Perhaps some fact checking should be done before releasing stories like this. It’s called journalism.” However, the tweet was deleted shortly after.
While qualifying was taking place, NASCAR sent back the teams of Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, and Matt Kenseth. The drivers were about to qualify when NASCAR saw something “unusual”, and sent them back to be re-inspected. All drivers were able to pass inspection and beat the five minute clock imposed by NASCAR for jumping out of the qualifying line.
NASCAR’s Senior Vice President of Competition Scott Miller addressed the media shortly after qualifying was complete.
When asked about Trull’s situation, Miller stated, “It’s not a real competitive advantage. What we will do with that one is take it back to the R&D Center and go through our normal processes like we do. Analyze everything and decide what we are going to do.”
Miller stated that it was “unlikely” to see a penalty for the No. 78 team. “It has to go through our process. We don’t technically do that on the weekend. Because it is the playoffs, everyone has a heightened sense of everything, but this is no different than things we’ve done all year. We will treat this one like we do all year long,” stated Miller.
“It’s no different than the JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) cars that failed the templates and had to go through. It’s our job to officiate the sport and make sure everything is right,” said Miller.
Miller accredited the processes NASCAR has in place stating, “Today’s activities are no different than we do every weekend.”
On the Joe Gibbs Racing cars, Miller stated, “That has happened before when our inspectors suspect something was manipulated after inspection was over. Before we have pulled cars off the grid and sent them back to inspection and rectified the problem.
Miller stated that the problem was not “big”, but that it had to be fair for everybody.
Truex Jr. Captures Hellman's 500 Pole
After getting parts seized before qualifying began, Martin Truex Jr. has captured the pole in Sunday’s Hellman’s 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. This is his fourth pole of 2016. This is his first career pole at Talladega Superspeedway.
“It’s definitely the place to be to start the race. I think the key is to stay there as long as you can. We will see what happens. This is obviously a big race, we will see what will happen,” said Truex Jr. in a post-qualifying interview.
The first round went without incident on the track, but pit road had incident. Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Denny Hamlin were sent back to inspection by NASCAR just before they were to go on track to qualify. Hamlin, Busch, and was able to get back out in line before their respective five minute clock expired. However, Reed Sorenson was the fastest in this round at a speed of 194.145 mph, Truex Jr. was second at a speed of 192.870 mph, Brad Keselowski was third at 192.800 mph, Matt Kenseth was fourth at a speed of 192.754 mph, and Greg Biffle rounded out the top-five with a speed of 192.556 mph. David Gilliland is the lone driver who will not race in the Hellman’s 500. Chase drivers who did not advance to the second round were Carl Edwards who will start 13th, Kyle Busch who will start 14th, Joey Logano who will start 16th, Jimmie Johnson who will start 17th, and Kevin Harvick who will start 22nd.
The second round of qualifying went without accident. Truex Jr. was able to gain the pole with a speed of 193.423 mph, Keselowski qualified second at a speed of 193.365 mph, Kenseth qualified third at 193.189 mph, Chase Elliott qualified fourth at 193.166 mph, and Biffle rounded out the top-five with a speed of 193.123 mph.
Sunday’s Hellman’s 500 from Talladega Superspeedway will be on NBCSN and Motor Racing Network. Coverage from Talladega will start at 1:30 p.m. EST on NBCSN and 1:00 p.m. EST on Motor Racing Network.