No less than a septuple (#’s 1,2,17,20,24,41, & 78) of Nascarians showed up at Phoenix International Raceway, on the Ides of October, the majority of them with “unstickered” (read “new”) cars, to lay down some PIR laps, as they searched for an edge to aide in moving on from PIR’s penultimate round of NASCAR’s Chase, to the season finale at Homestead, which will determine the 2015 champ, and we’re here to share RR-AZ’s observations from the Media conference overseen by PIR’s Director of Communications, Zac Emmons.
On the day that NASCAR released the 2016 Rules Updates, a trio of NASCAR Champs, Matt Kenseth (1), Brad Keselowski (1), and Jeff Gordon (4), endured the Media quizzing, and here are a few of the nuggets, we mined.
- Good to see Racing RoundUp-AZ Alum, and former dirt racer from Glendale, AZ, Mike “Too Tall” Madill, at the test session. Mike is now a mechanic for the #19 JGR effort of Chase contender Carl Edwards
- The garage, for this test session, was populated with engineers and computerists, all looking for any edge they could dig up. It more readily resembled a Silicon Valley “think tank,” than a race track pit.
- 2016 rules: Of the baker’s dozen rule changes for next season, our favorite is the now mandatory “Digital dash in all vehicles,” which we presume replaces any analog gauges still in use. Welcome to the new millennium NASCAR!
- Kenseth and Keselowski suggested the rule changes would/should result in lower corner speeds, but allow the cars to handle better in traffic and place more emphasis on the driver, but bottom line the good teams will still be good, and the other teams will still end up chasing them. Gordon didn’t weigh in, primarily because he is retiring at the end of the season and would be unaffected by the changes.
- All three Champs expressed that RR-AZ Alum, Kevin Harvick, who has 6 career Sprint Cup wins at Phoenix, including three in a row, would be tough to beat at Phoenix, and that’s why they were here.
- Wednesday marked the final “test” for Jeff Gordon before he retires, and he would like to notch a career 93rd win, at the track which will be renamed “Jeff Gordon Raceway,” for the November event. (Not quite sure if the JGR folks are OK with the “JGR” acronym being heisted by Gordon, for this event, but we’re sure they’ll get over it).
- Gordon also surprised most in the room by identifying his 1990 USAC Silver Crown victory, in the Copper World Classic, as his most memorable race at the Phoenix mile.
- One final note is that RR-AZ Alum Michael Knight (http://spindoctor500blog.blogspot.com/) shared that he is working on a Penske Racing 50th Anniversary project that you won’t want to miss. We’ll keep you posted for when it will surface.
Bottom line, a hot day, a garage full of tired and stressed drivers, and plenty of PC responses, to media inquiries. In other words, a normal day at the track.
Have At It, Racers!