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Monday, August 10, 2009

Race at Watkins Glen

While the road race at Watkins Glen today was anything but boring, it was rather hard to follow. Just by the nature of the race, it is impossible to know where all drivers are at all times and just what they are doing. To be able to comment on 43 drivers, their crews, and 11 different corners all at the same time has proven to be just about impossible for the media.

I am grateful for NASCAR's raceday scanner. I love the technology that allows me to keep track of the #39 car. There were times today, I wish I didn't know what was going on. Ryan Newman was lucky -- in that he didn't lose points today.

From the moment he started the car, there were problems. The alternator was apparently malfunctioning. And although Ryan wanted to have it changed, the process would have been too complex, so batteries were changed instead. For the entire race, Newman ran on less than optimum power. Since there are two batteries in the car, the driver can switch from one to the other. Newman was advised to do that every ten laps. Imagine trying to concentrate on hitting your marks, driving at about 120mph through curves and corners, with 43 other drivers doing the same thing, at the same time as having to play with switches on the dashboard?

Newman also had to turn various fans off and on throughout the course of the race. That includes the fan inside his helmet that keeps him cool. He went through numerous bottles of water -- not just to drink, but to pour on his face and into his fire suit. It was hot today. Most drivers, stopped after the huge wreck on lap 60, complained about the heat because they had to turn off their engines, which meant their fans. In comparison Ryan ran that heat equivalent magnified by the what heat the engine put out for the whole race with only minor relief when he turned on the fans intermittently. The burning fuel also emits fumes.

On top of all that the car was "wicked loose," according to Ryan's radio transmission. I may be mistaken, but it didn't sound to me like there were many adjustments made to the car during its multiple pit stops. Tires, gas, and batteries took up most of the crew's time and attention.

But that is where the luck came into it -- he didn't lose any points in the race for the chase. He remains in 9th position. In fact, he even passed several cars in the final laps of the race.

Other than Ryan Newman's issues, the race was quite eventful. It was good to see Sam Hornish, Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton walk away from that crash on lap 60. It was probably the most violent wreck I've seen.

Congratulations to Tony Stewart for a job well done. He ran a pretty much flawless race and it paid off.

Next week is Michigan, Ryan Newman's home track. That can only be good. I wish him well, both on the track and wherever he decides to plant his fishing pole.