Last week I learned an important lesson about tires. I went to the Mini dealership for my regular service appointment. I expected to get my oil changed and a car wash and be out of there in an hour. However, it got ugly in a hurry. The service chick came over to me and said, "We got your oil changed and the rest of your car serviced, but you have a problem with your tires. There is a chunk of your right front tire wrapped around your axle, and it will be $800 to replace the front tires." Whoah...I asked to have a look at it, and sure enough, a 1 inch wide slice of my RF tire had delaminated and wrapped itself around the axle like ribbon on a Christmas present. Unfortunately, the car was really unsafe to drive and I had to suck it up and get some new tires. I drive 30+ miles to work each day on the highway, and you cannot take chances when you drive a small car.
Speaking of tires, it looks like the Indianapolis tire issues have finally been resolved. For those of you who are not Jayski junkies, NASCAR has had about 4-5 tire tests at Indy in the last 3 months to sort out the tire debaucle of last year. The first 2 tests were a disaster, and the tires were only living for about 10 laps like last year. However, after the Indy 500 was run, they brought 8 or 9 cars out there and some new tire compounds. Normally there are only 4 cars at a tire test, but they wanted to lay down a lot of rubber and see how much less the wear was with track conditions more representative of the race weekend. That was two weeks ago, and an engineer friend of mine said that his car was good for atleast 30 lap on a set of tires. A fuel run is about that long, so they essentially had the issue resolved after that test. However, a whole new fleet of cars went up there on Monday and did all again. The early reports that I have been hearing from that test suggest that the tires will be just fine and the race will not be the joke that it was last year. We shall see.
If you are a Robby Gordon fan, the season starts this week. Optimism springs eternal for the fans and team alike when the circuit visits the road courses, and why not. You have a shot at the pole, you are high up the practice speed charts, Lindsay Czarniak is hanging out in your pit all weekend, things are good. Until you realize that Sonoma is a fuel mileage race. In 2007 RG had the pace to win and led 50+ laps. However, the cautions never came, and some cars could run 15 more laps on fuel than RG, and he got smoked. Then last year they made an ass out of themselves by running out of fuel in the first half of the race, and finished two laps down. In fact, RG does not even have a top 10 at Sonoma in the last bunch of years. There is no way the 7 will win a fuel mileage race at a road course. The only course of action is to try to dominate the pace of the race, and hope the pit strategy works out. At the very least, don't come without being remarkable.
Predictions for this week. I will go for a maiden victory for the 47 followed cloesly by the 14 and the 18. Marcos ran so good last year that I think he will be unstoppable with a better peice under him. I will pick the 7 for a 5th. It is hard to be compete for wins, when you don't compete for wins. I just think the pressure will breed a mistake from either the driver or the crew, and victory will elude them.