What a superb race at the weekend. There was something to cheer about for everyone. Each manufacturer had a stint in the lead, rookies came to the front, plenty of wrecks, different pit strategies, and many different drivers had a dominant stint of the race. Can you believe that I fell asleep with 30 to go? What a great day for Hendrick too. Their engines and engineering support were behind each car in the top 5. They are the classiest operation in Cup racing and proved it in a big way at Darlington.
Now it is back "home" to Charlotte for 2 weeks. From a logistical standpoint, the Charlotte races are fantastic. The track is half and hour or less from most crew members houses and race shops, so you can sleep in your own bed after the practices and the race. And, if you happen to wreck a car it is easy enough to send body or fab people from the shop if the damage is major.
One of the uniquities of Charlotte from a chassis tuning point of view, is the bump at the entry of turn one. Right at the fastest point of the track, the driver has to start braking and turning the wheel to address turn 1. The front of the car starts to load up, the springs compress, and then the car hits the bump. The car gets light and uncomfortable, and the driver will sometimes panic and back off too much and screw up the corner and the lap. Obviously, you cannot move the bump, so you have to do something to the car to give the confidence back to the driver to get over it. One tuning tool that helps this is "bump steer".
When the front of the car goes down and compresses the springs, the tires do not stay in a straight line. The tires will actually steer to the left or the right a little bit, and this is due to the lengths and angles of the suspension and steering arms. Since the tires only need to turn about 3 degrees to get through the corners at Charlotte, a little bit of "bump steer" feels like alot. The crew chiefs can control how much and in which direction the bump steer goes with the adjustment holes on the steering link. For alot of the tracks, the teams will set the cars up to have as little bump steer as possible to keep a consistent feel at the steering wheel. However, at Charlotte, they may setup the RF tire to turn to the right a small amount. I know the turn is left, but they will make it turn right. This will help stabablize the car over the bump and give the driver something to feel and pull against as he steers into the corner. It's a bit counter intuitive, but this was usually a gain for Robby at Charlotte and some of the other 1.5 mile tracks and I know it is for other drivers as well.
The All-Star race is so unpredicatable, which is why it is so fun. For the showdown, I predict the 55, 00, and 83 to qualify for the AS race (55 on votes obviously). For the main event I will go for back to back wins for Kasey. Charlotte suits him so well it is stupid. I think it was evident at Darlington that the chassis and engine is strong enough. Robby does really well at Charlotte and I think he will be close to one of the transfer places. I just think there is too much quality to get out of the Showdown, so I will go for a 5th in the showdown.