Kickin' It With Carl: The Sprint dip and downforce troubles
After talking to the rest of my teammates and stuff, I feel like definitely our cars were much better in clean air. They had a lot of the same troubles.
Look, I wish more than anything I had five wins this year and we were leading the points. We were good enough to do that last year, and I truly believe we're just in a trough of performance based on the way the sport goes. If you look at the beginning of the year, Roush actually started strong. Matt won the first two races, and then we had three cars to beat at Texas, and then we started to fade to mediocrity. Now, other than Chicago, I think we've really come back pretty well.
Looking ahead, I think when we go back to these places like Atlanta and California, we're going to find out where we stand. Right now, it's just this race to find the most grip and the most downforce. It just keeps evolving with this car, but it takes time to catch up. I really feel like we're closing the gap, though. There are times in the last couple of years where we had that edge, so we just have to ride it out, get it back, and then enjoy it when we have it.
But we can't self-destruct. We can't start fighting within the team and stuff like that.
You know, I've been in the sport for five years now, and I'm telling you, this year is 100 percent more competitive than five years ago when I started. It's tough. I look at some of the races, when I got done with the race -- Phoenix was one -- I don't remember where I finished, but I remember walking to my motorhome and thinking to myself, 'I can't remember the last time I raced that hard.' Almost all of the races have been like that.
Before, if you had a fast enough car, you could be comfortable to a certain degree and relax a little bit. Now, I don't ever see that happening again. Things are more competitive than ever.
So, to me the direction NASCAR I feel like should go is less downforce. I do think NASCAR did a really, really smart thing with the new (Car of Tomorrow) by taking away a bunch of the parameters on the body that you can change. So now, all the teams have almost the same amount of downforce. That's a great first step. But now ... they need to start taking it away. If I don't have downforce to begin with, I can't possibly lose any when I come up behind a guy. So, I think that you'd see some very, very close racing at these tracks that you don't see now.
That car is a great thing. The looks of it have grown on me. The idea of it is perfect. The type of rules and setup that they have right now is what every short track racer in America dreams of: to be able to go to the track and know that you're coming with the same equipment as everyone else. That's what makes it more of a sport and less of a spectacle. So, that's good.
I think it's too bad that people try to pigeonhole athletes and get them to commit 100 percent one way or the other, because it's just totally impossible for someone who really loves the sport. I know for me, that would be very difficult. Right now, I can't imagine walking away from racing and not racing again, even if it's cutting back to part-time. I still want to race; and if I'm going to race 15 races, why not race the other 21 or 22 races and go run for a championship?
Make sure you get the right equipment, your bike is safe, and that your bike is set up ergonomically for your body size. So that would be the first thing, to make sure you're riding in a way that's not going to cause any injury.
And then, number two, you need to consult with someone who's a professional. Or go on a website: my trainer, he works for Carmichael Training Systems and he's got a website called trainright.com. You can get tips on how to train, how to fill up your endurance, stay hydrated to be safe on the road, and stay on the right schedule and frequency for riding. There's a lot of places you can get information, but I would start with the bike shop, trainright.com, and go from there. The other thing is if you see someone who's riding, talk to them and you'll probably get some good advice and someone to go ride with at the same time.
This is called Did You Know? ... I got this in an email, it's an interesting sequence of statistics
Once you make it through that section, you get to the highest speed part of the track -- the back straightaway. That leads into a really heavy braking zone, and into what they call the bus stop, which is just a short chicane. And that's a really interesting place. You go through there pretty fast, and there's not a lot of room for error. You can certainly get a lot of passing done right there on entry; but you can also suffer, because if you get in there and screw up, you'll end up right in the sand trap. My first lap of testing there, I ended up in that sand trap, so I'm very familiar with how it can bite you. Next, there's almost a 180-degree right-hander. It's a pretty neat corner, an oval corner a lot like maybe a New Hampshire or something like that -- but it's facing the opposite direction than you'd usually see on an oval. I think it's fun, but for me and the other oval racers it's a tough corner. You're entering it sliding and doing all the things you do on an oval, but doing it to the right.
That corner comes out to a medium-length straightaway with a hard left and a hard right back to the finish line. Those corners are fairly straightforward, fairly simple. And the trick here is to thread the needle and to make a good, solid run through those corners. Not a lot of action happens there. So, a lap around the Glen is a lot of different types of corners, a lot of different braking zones, and some technical spots in the S's. It's a fun race track.