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: New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Race 19 of 36 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series)
Race: LENOX Industrial Tools (301 laps / 318.458 miles)
Trivia Question: What driver scored the first win for Dodge at New Hampshire Motor Speedway? (Answer Below)
HOWARD COMSTOCK (SRT Motorsports Engineering)
Getting Through the Corners: “The problem here – the tight corners. People compare this to a big Martinsville. What’s big about it is the straightaways are longer which allows the cars to gain more speed so you’ve got more speed on corner entry. The corners here are tight relative to the size of the track, so the cars are always tight in the middle of the corner. So what the teams fight year after year is tight in the middle of the corner. To get the car to turn in the middle, you loosen the chassis up. Then, not only are the cars too loose coming off the corner but they tend to get loose getting into the corner. With the relatively high speeds that we see here, loose into the corner is a bad situation. It’s hard on the driver.”
Brakes: “Brakes are important, they really are, but they should last 300 miles. The advantage we have here is that the race is only 300 miles, so the brakes will last 300 miles even though they get a really great workout. Remember at Martinsville we go 500 laps. Here we only go 300 laps so if you have to brake hard a thousand times at Martinsville you only have to brake 600 times here. That makes a big difference.”
Fuel Mileage: “Fuel mileage is always a factor here because everybody has to play the track position game. That’s how mileage comes into it. It’s hard to pass so you have to time your pit stops and try to make as few stops as possible. Consequently, everybody is stretching everything. They start from the beginning of the race looking at the end of the race and working the race backwards. So, when is the first possible time we can pit to get to the end of the race? That’s why fuel economy comes into it. That’s why people are afraid of green-white-checkers here.”
Both Dodges Will Start Outside the Top 20. What Can They Do To Gain Track Position Early? “It immediately forces you into a strategy where you have to take advantage of early cautions and get your pit work done – make adjustments, get fuel in the car – and if another caution comes relatively soon, you’ve got to stay committed, skip that pit stop, keep your track position and hope that the race will go long enough that everybody will have to pit that next caution.”
TRIVIA ANSWER: Ward Burton drove a Dodge to victory in the 2002 New England 300, now the LENOX Industrial Tools 301.