Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Clever Crew Chief Knaus Caught (Again)

The legendary Smoky Yunick set the bar for all crew chiefs when he said, “It is NASCAR’s job to make and enforce the rules; it is the crew chief’s job to find a way around the rules.”
Chad Knaus, Crew Chief for Jimmie Johnson’s #48 Hendrick Motorsport/ Lowe’s racing team, is arguably the best of the current crew chiefs at what could be called “creative interpretation” of the rules. Last year, Knaus’ endeavors to find more speed for his driver resulted in points deductions and fines. However, you can’t blame the guy for trying.
One thing he did get away with, last fall, was using a set of shock aborbers which lowered the rear end of the car when the car got up to speed, changing the aerodynamic profile of the car only when it was moving. The pre race technical inspections only make sure the car fits the template when it is standing still. NASCAR inspecters found the strange shock absorbers during the post race inspection. They found that, although the shocks were unconventional, they were in line with the rules. So there was no penalty, but from that time forward, those shocks became illegal.
What got Chad banned from Daytona participation this week was another very clever trick. He altered the track bar adjustment position so that it would lower the height of the rear window only when the car got up to speed. NASCAR officials wouldn’t have caught it with the pre race template check. However, during Jimmie Johnson’s qualifying run, last Sunday, someone noticed tire smoke caused by fender rub. The car was inspected after the qualifying run, the infraction discovered, and action was taken. Knaus was barred from the remainder of the Daytona events, and Johnson has to start at the back of the pack in his qualifying race on Thursday. Starting in the rear at a restrictor plate race isn’t all that bad, so if you’re going to try something, why not try it at Daytona?
Personally, I feel that innovation makes better racing. If someone finds a way to make his car faster, the other teams will eventually find a way to catch up. But, just as the crew chief has to find a way to make the car faster, NASCAR has to find a way to keep things from getting out of hand. It is only another aspect of competition.

Notes:
I have to throw in a plug here for my friend and fellow NASCAR blogger Clance’. In her blog, The Church of the Great Oval, she has a commentary on the Bud Shootout, titled “Shootout at the OK Corral,” or something similar. I urge you to check it out. It is probably the most unique, interesting, and accurate race review I have seen. And, by the way, it’s all done in dialogue.

This may be pretentious, but I wonder if Hunter, Darby, and/ or Helton are reading my blog. Last week, I made a big deal about Carl Edwards “always being happy,” and subsequently, NASCAR did things to show that Edwards was not, in fact, always happy. Then, yesterday, I wrote that NASCAR could warn the drivers that they would get the black flag for slam drafting in the corners, and sure enough, NASCAR announced this morning that they would do just that. It is certainly mere coincidence, but I can’t help but to be a little paranoid. Do I really have to be more careful about what I write?

1 comment:

Babs said...

Yes!! Please don't write ANYTHING about Kenseth!! LOL!