Although we make every effort to cover our own travel expenses, in this case NASCAR has taken us to Orlando and provided two nights at a hotel.
Dayton 500 is the opening season for NASCAR and also the biggest race in the series. Running on the track a little farther from the beach in Florida, where the series has begun, this is a 200-mile, 500-kilometer endurance test for a car, driver and team. (And depending on when they started to party for the fans.) I was on a lot of endurance races at this time, and although there are some differences between the NASCAR race and your average long distance event, I thought the basics would still apply. Similar to driver training, for example.
"It's a difficult challenge, especially because it's the first race of the year, it's easy not to be in the best shape after breaks, to be a race car driver on a light day when it's not too hot when the tires work when everything is smooth ̵
Daytona's car setup is related to aerodynamic optimization. "It's about the degree of stability you build in the car, and where you are, if the back of the car is really cut, it's not stable because it has no compressive force on the car up, now you have some stability, the car has "said Travis Geisler, NASCAR Team Team Team Team Manager, and each 400-horsepower (300kW), the compromise between the air that works for you as a pressurized strength and air, working against you as it is is dramatic, and where teams can find an edge over their rivals.
"Because here, where it's wide open and the track is fairly smooth, you can become quite aggressive," Geisler said. Back in the race shop, engineers will "replay" a lap of a car mounted on a seven-speed system to measure the actual change in tire spot contact. "If you get too rigid at all, the tire loses contact and you start washing the track [understeering] This is your limit in many places, then the driver just has to deal with it," Geisler said.
As long as there are similarities, the Daytona 500 is very different from an event like Rolex 24 or Petit Le Mans, or even the Indy 500, especially at the racing weekend. "There is a big difference between our IMSA teams and the IndyCar teams and our NASCAR teams. They all have full telemetry data for the cars during a racing weekend, they can measure everything that's happening, they can manage it through their simulations, and we have a feedback person, "Gaussler said. – At this point you have to listen to them and the simulation is close, but it is not a reality.
"This separates many NASCAR drivers from many other race styles where you really have to keep up with your car and have feedback that makes the car faster," Geisler told us. "It's one thing for the driver to say" hey, I'm too free at the exit of the fourth quad, you have to work on that. "But if we do it and go slower, you do not know what limit you should learn to break these things because their level of comfort and speed may not be the same thing. such a place is unlikely to be so, so they get an extra pay of their salary. "
Although it is a long race, the comfort of the driver plays a second violin for the lap time. , "I need a mouth protection area and I have" I can not manage this "territory and you can understand their voice when it comes to a certain point," explained Geysler. "Ultimately, the quality of riding really starts to worsen the performance of the car 10, 15, 20 laps on the move because the tire grip is so bad [by then]."
This does not mean that the comfort of the driver is not important to this NASCAR era. Keselowski believes this is the area where he has seen the most change as a driver over the last decade. "One of the biggest changes as a driver is the seat and the way you are in the car Now we have lightweight carbon fiber seats, my body is scanned, and then special foam pads are made from scanning devices. light and very nice, "he told me, even the seat belts are made to order for every driver" Now they are stitched and made perfect for my body – I even have a different set when I'm 4-5 liters heavier than now "said Keselowski.
The magnitude of this preparation even extends over time. "The key is to figure out what's going on in this way, a lot going into the cars and going a lot in preparing the race." The cars must be ready two weeks before the more teams can understand the conditions of the track and the weather, they can compete better, "said Pat Duchi, manager of General Motors' NASCAR operations.
GM works with The Weather Company to provide its racing teams (IndyCar and IMSA as well as NASCAR) with the most accurate predictions. "At the start of the event, you will begin to imagine the weather conditions to prepare the car, the book to play." On the track, the key is to trust the tools we have provided to the teams, as our teams got the data and continued to are improving – we are in the middle of the journey – as we get to the weekend race, they see that the data is good and pay attention "
" We share the lesson learned in Chevrolet's core teams. team develops assurance OCT, it helps the other, "added Byron MakMikal, meteorologist and senior director of accounts at IBM. Data comes from more than 100,000 weather stations before being fed into one of IBM's AI systems, with new forecasts being discarded every 15 minutes. "In the forecast are built a lot of artificial intelligence and machine training. It was a fun trip because you do not realize how long it has to influence the races – you always think about the rainfall, but not about all the other aspects of the weather that affect the races. "The only ones who are able to make forecasts with so much accuracy because of the amount of data we can feed AI," McMichel said.
What is considered a perfect time for a glass of a car? "A cool, sunny day with a little warmth in the solar track and the cold air for the engine, a nice sunny sunny day is ideal." Super-hot, super-sunny day generates better racing while cars start sliding. :
Unfortunately for most of the competitors this level of preparation is often irrelevant. The 61th Daytona 500 operation was for the first 190 laps, measured, even dull, with the biggest drama being the three-car crash, as part of the field was pit-lane. Then, with 95 percent of the distance covered, it looks like they are brains, not tires that fade away. With a restart of the race from a cautious period (exhausted by Keselowski), there was a massive folding of 21 cars launched by Matt Dibededeck # 95. The competition was marked red to allow the carnage – these were just broken car pieces, as the current Gen6 car is a remarkably safe racer.
After a long delay, the race was restarted, with a few laps under the safety car, to locate all before the green flag. When the green waved six laps, we had another crash – the one with six more cars. Pick up the safety car, then another restart and … another big wreck, this time enough to pull the red flag for the second time. (Maybe the Daytona 500 was jealous of Rolex 24, who also saw unprecedented two red flags this year?) When things finally came to last, Denny Hamlin's # 11 managed to avoid being hit for two laps and took a win . In fact, for the flagged flag, only five cars – from a field of 40 people – were not damaged.
I guess the moral of this story is that if you want to be at the front, you have to put all this time and effort into preparation. But that's all for nothing if you get caught in the 20-mile accident.