Sun, Edwards, Tech and Branding

Sunday morning and it’s smiles all around at Phoenix International Raceway. The sun is up, the clouds are white and fluffy and the predicted rainy race day didn’t happen – on Saturday or Sunday. For the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 7th Annual Subway Fresh Fit 500 race it’s cold and the race track is green after all the Saturday night downpour washed away all the rubber. But the howling wind Saturday night saved the jet blowers a lot of laps.

The grandstands are sold out and supposedly more than 800 snakes have been removed from Rattlesnake Hill to clear the way for the overflow spectators.

CARL EDWARDS/No.99 Subway Ford has the pole with a record-breaking lap of 26.224/137.279 mph. The record Edwards and 14 other drivers bested was set by Edwards last fall, the race won by Edwards.

Lally, looking for more sponsorship
ANDY LALLY/No.71 Eco-Fuel Saver Chevrolet was the top Rookie, starting forty-first. The only other Rookie in the 44-car field, BRIAN KESELOWSKI/No.92 K Automotive Motorsports Dodge, failed to make the race.

No.18 escorted to Tech
Busch's car being escorted by NASCAR officials to Tech
KYLE BUSCH has been the man of the weekend, winning both the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 7th Annual Lucas Oil 150 race on Friday night and Saturday afternoon’s Nationwide Series 7th Annual Bashas’ Supermarkets 200 race – leading every lap.

Before winning the NNS race, Busch’s Sprint Cup car, No.18 Combos Toyota, had to go through Tech four times before it was cleared to race. That won the weekend’s ‘prize’ for the most attempts. But the all-time winner probably is JEFF GORDON/No.24 Chevrolet who spent the first year of the COT going through Tech again and again.

In these tough economic times, it’s all about branding. And the NASCAR teams avail themselves of every opportunity to put forth their sponsors and team. The most unusual to me was the Hendrick Motorsports wheels on the motor-man’s cart. This particular specialized tool cart also had fans.Hendrick wheel

Another way the teams assert their cars identity is the color of the wheel rims. While most opt for the standard black, the rims can be any color the team wants. This weekend the options are chrome, red and one yellow.

RimsAfter each race, all the rims are collected by a company, such as Champion, for washing and cleaning, checking the lug nut holes and any defects, before returning them to the teams for the next race.

Speaking of tires, this weekend at PIR, the tires have one valve stem and no inner liner. For the upcoming race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway the Goodyear Eagles will have two valve stems and an inner liner – for the high banking which causes side force. The outer tire has 50 pounds of pressure and the inner liner has 30 pounds. The inner liners can be used up to four times, but the outer tires can only be used once. An optimum run for a tire is one tank of fuel.

Although the race track was cold and green, Goodyear tire engineers think it will be a challenge, but not a problem. The tires run best at 120-180 degrees.

Goodyear brings approximately 45 staff to each race – six to seven full time employees and the rest are contract weekend warriors.
Cart with fans
Tire cart

Photos by Lynne Huntting