When you are competing with the best teams in motor-sports, it is that much more important to put your best foot forward during every aspect of a NASCAR weekend. For the #51 team of Jeremy Clements in the Nationwide Series, the goal is to perform your best at all times in the hopes of winning a race and acquiring a full-time sponsor.
Last week I shared behind the scenes information with you about Jeremy’s team as I shadowed the team at Bristol and Richmond. If you missed the blog you can find it by clicking this link. For those of you who read the article, I want to continue to take you where most fans don’t have access.
Each race is carefully planned out by NASCAR. A typical day will include a finely tuned schedule of events. While in Richmond, the day starts with the garage opening as early as 7:30 a.m. This is when the teams go over all of the plans and get the cars ready for inspection and qualifying. At 8 a.m. the Nationwide Series Rookies and Spotters are required to attend a meeting to discuss the track and other information that might be important about the day.
Out of the entire day I really can’t recall any particular time when everyone was silent until inspection time. You push the car from your garage to the inspection station with the hope of only having to go through the line once. Each team rolls the vehicle onto the platform and templates are used to make sure the vehicle meets all of the standards. NASCAR officials check the front, top, rear wing, sides and other aspects of the car. If the vehicle doesn’t match up perfectly, the team takes the vehicle back to the garage and makes the appropriate adjustments. You don’t get to practice or qualify until the vehicle passes.
At 9 a.m. the teams will get their last chance to practice with their cars and make adjustments before qualifying in the afternoon. The weather and other factors are studied carefully to determine how to set the cars up for qualifying in the afternoon. You might see a particular vehicle on take two or three laps before returning to the garage to make adjustments. Every millimeter makes a difference as the outcome of a race can be determined by a 1000th of a second. Jeremy’s crew works hard to get the car in the best possible condition to give them an edge over another team. On one particular stop in Bristol, I noticed Tony, Jeremy’s dad, tearing down the top part of the engine. As soon as the adjustments were made and Jeremy was ready to head out on the track the starter gave out. Another crew member, Jeff, jumped into action as the team needed to get a new starter on the vehicle quickly or precious practice time would be lost. Within minutes, Jeff and Tony had the new starter installed and the car was back on the track. While the car was turning laps Crew Chief Ricky and Tony would discuss each adjustment and how it impacted the performance of the car. It was impressive to see how quickly a team could make small adjustments and the impact it had on the lap times of the car. I also noticed that every time the car came into the garage a Brembo brake representative would check the temperatures of the rotors. As the practice came to an end, the team continued to tweak the car in hopes of running a great race.
Watch for my next article about qualifying.