NOTEBOOK: Driver's feel is still crucial
'Driving by the seat of the pants'
Perhaps you’ve heard the term “driving by the seat of the pants.” Someone asked Jeff Gordon at Auto Club Speedway how important it is.
“I think everybody has a different way of feeling the balance of the car and the speed of the car and whether a car is going to stick,” the four-time Cup champion said. “I think that a lot of times (you hear) the term ‘feel it in your butt,’ and I think some guys feel it there and some feel it in how much pressure they’re putting on the wheel. Basically, it’s your body is sending you signals, and the car is sending your body signals to what the car is doing.
“That’s what we adjust every little detail around the car on, because we don’t have the data in the car during race weekends, so we’re doing it all off of simulation and we do it off of what the driver is telling you. The driver is telling you that based on that sort of seat of your pants feel. It’s important.”
The more the merrier – Toyota’s history in NASCAR is dominated by Joe Gibbs Racing, but early indications suggest that Michael Waltrip Racing is finally emerging as a consistent force.
Auto Club 400 pole winner Denny Hamlin said that’s great … for JGR.
“It's big for us for Michael Waltrip Racing to be competitive,” he said. “The more competitive teams you have under one manufacturer, the more information you can use.”
Change of seam – A new term has come into widespread use in regard to Auto Club Speedway.
The track surface has grown weathered. When track officials patched the track, mainly to repair seams in the asphalt, it became more treacherous, apparently owing to the level of adhesion in the seams.
“California is tricky,” Martin Truex Jr. said. “The track is just ultra-slick, and it's one of the fastest places we go. Going off into turn one at 208 or 210 mph and not having much grip when you get there, is challenging.”
Monte Dutton; 704-869-1841; twitter.com/montedutton