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Oct 27, 2012 - 06:59 PM
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2012 Martinsville II: Dodge NASCAR Sprint Cup - Keys For Success
Posted by: ASkyler on Oct 27, 2012 - 06:51 PM
2012 Martinsville II: Dodge NASCAR Sprint Cup - Keys For Success

Each race weekend, selected SRT Motorsports engineers, Penske Racing engineers and crew chiefs, drivers or engine specialists give their insight on the ‘Keys for Success’ for the upcoming race. This week, Howard Comstock, SRT Motorsports Engineering, provides the keys for Sunday’s Sprint Cup race.

Track: Martinsville Speedway (Race 33 of 36 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series)

Race: TUMS Fast Relief 500 (500 laps / 263.00 miles)

Trivia Question: This driver scored his first NASCAR Sprint Cup win in the 1975 Old Dominion 500 at Martinsville Speedway behind the wheel of a Dodge Charger. Who is he? (Answer Below)


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HOWARD COMSTOCK (SRT Motorsports Engineering)

BRAD KESELOWSKI WILL START 32ND IN THE RACE HERE AT MARTINSVILLE ON SUNDAY. IS STARTING THAT FAR BACK OVERBLOWN? "It is a big disadvantage. It’s not overblown. I think if you look at statistics of people that have been able to win this race, qualifying outside the top half of the field, the numbers are pretty sparse. If there’s enough cautions, at some point during the day you’re going to be at the front of the field and at some point during the day you’re going to be at the back of the field. But the danger in trying to get from the back to the front is what’s not good. It’s not good."

IS RUNNING IN TRAFFIC A BIGGER DISADVANTAGE HERE AT MARTINSVILLE THAN ANY OTHER TRACK WE GO TO? "Sure. It’s safe to say that. It’s tough being in traffic here all day long because the track is so tight, it’s so small, there’s such a small margin of error, just the smallest error and you end up spun around. Worse than that, even if you don’t get into any accidents, you’ll end up with fenders pushed in and bumper bars in the front or the back pushed in, the spoiler knocked askew. You wear out the brakes. When you’re in the middle of the pack, you can’t get a lot of air to the components that need cooling. It’s tougher when you’re racing in the middle of the field."

HOW DO YOU MANAGE STARTING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FIELD? DO YOU SIMPLY PIT WHEN OTHERS DO NOT? "First, you have to make some progress. Get from 32nd to at least the upper half of the field by driving up there. Once you get in the top half of the field, then you’ve got to try to pit when they stay out and stay out when they pit. And more likely, it’s going to be that you’ll have to stay out once when they pit. When the next caution comes, hopefully you can pit and not lose a lot of track position."

HOW RISKY IS IT TO PIT UNDER GREEN HERE? "If you’re in the middle of the field and you pit under green, you’ll be three laps down because if you’re in the middle of the field you’re already a half a lap down. So when you slow down and get on pit road they lap you and 19 seconds later they lap you again. By the time you come off on the backstretch, they’re liable to lap you again. Do the math: the time it takes to slow down, get onto pit road and to your stall, the pit stop itself plus however many seconds to takes to return to the track on the backstretch and then back up to speed. You could potentially lose three laps pitting under green if you’re in the middle of the field."

CAN YOU CHANGE TWO TIRES MORE THAN YOU NORMALLY WOULD FOUR TIRES? "If you have to make it work you’ll make it work. It’s not the best choice. That’s why when you qualify badly, you limit your choices. And when you limit your choices, you’re putting yourself in a smaller box. It’s not good."

ARE BRAKES STILL ONE OF THE MAIN CONCERNS HERE? "Brakes ought to be okay. Technology has progressed. The only way you’d run the risk of running the brakes off the car anymore is if you’re pressing too hard, which, if you qualify bad, you may end up pressing too hard."

CAN YOU TAKE CARE OF YOUR BRAKES WHILE RACING IN TRAFFIC OR DO YOU JUST PLAN ON THEM TAKING A BEATING? "They’re going to take a beating. You won’t wear them out in the first half of the race but you’ll wear them down in the first half of the race trying to get track position. Then, when you need to make a move at the end, you don’t know if they’ll be there or not."

WILL THIS RACE BE AS CAUTION FILLED AS A TYPICAL MARTINSVILLE RACE OR WHAT WE SAW LAST WEEK AT KANSAS? OR WILL CAUTIONS BE AS SPARSE TOMORROW AS THEY WERE EARLIER THIS YEAR? "There’s no reason for it to be any different than any other Martinsville race that we see. Kansas was an anomaly because it was a new track and the surface was unsteady. This is the same old Martinsville that we’ve run on for the last several years, since they repaved the corners. There’s no mystery to it. I don’t think there are drivers that have any axes to grind. I think people will be cognizant of the fact that the top-four guys in the Chase still have a chance to win this thing. I don’t think anybody is going to take any shots at anybody else. I think it’ll be a normal Martinsville race. My greatest fear is that there will be fewer cautions, given that we’ve seen fewer cautions all year. Everybody is racing careful four races from the end of the season. There won’t be any cautions which will benefit the guys in the front."

REALISTICALLY, IS RETALIATION A FACTOR HERE? "I don’t think there have been any skirmishes lately where retaliation is building. You just don’t want to get caught up in somebody else’s mess. I don’t think any of the Chase contenders have a target on ‘em."

Trivia Question Answer: Dave Marcis won the 1975 fall race at Martinsville by three seconds over second-place Benny Parson. Marcis led 52 laps, including the final 41, behind the wheel of the No. 71 Dodge Charger owned by Nord Krauskopf.

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