PHOTO: Kyle Busch’s car is paying tribute to the 9/11 terrorist attacks this weekend at Richmond. (Toyota Racing photo)

–by T.J. Ingerson
VMM Correspondent

We all remember exactly where we were ten years ago when we found out the tragic events of the September 11 terrorist attacks. I remember being in my middle school social studies class and the teacher turning the television on, standing there in disbelief and trying to explain to the class what had happened.

I remember how well the racing community responded to it on a national level. I remember Kenny Schrader’s NASCAR Winston Cup car painted up with the American flag with not one sponsor decal. Sponsors giving up their corporate space to allow for tributes and pleas for help. The image of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., carrying the checkered flag around after winning the race at Dover stuck in our minds as a sign of strength and that we carry on.

Perhaps, though, the one thing I most remember is the outpouring support of the local race teams and drivers. There were many teams during the Milk Bowl that had tributes, and one that sticks out in my mind was the Richard Green-owned, Dave Wilcox No. 16. But what also sticks in my mind is just being at the race track, and being able to put what has happened in the back of the minds of many for just a few hours and enjoy what we all enjoy.

So, when you go to the race track this weekend, thinking about where you were ten years ago, and the ten years after that that have made our country that much more special.

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After talking about baseline setups last week, a question came in from a person who attends Thunder Road weekly, asking about what a good baseline setup would be for a Street Stock (4-cylinder Mustang) type car. And it is a really good question, but also has a nearly impossible answer.

A Thunder Road Street Stock is just that, stock. Many components of the car are stock and offer very little room for adjustment. You’re cornered into the type of springs and struts you can run. There is only so much caster you can get with the strut towers, and teams are limited by the rules with the amount of camber they can run. Your only “adjustment” is tire pressures, basically. But, there is still a baseline out there.

The main issue that a Mustang Street Stock comes into is body roll, and not being able to keep weight on the left-rear tire. I would suggest finding the stiffest front springs you can find as a starting point. Make sure you’re also running the maximum 1-inch swaybar — any less and you’re losing performance in the setup. Next, build some caster into your front suspension, and that will help the car turn through the corners. A 2-degree split is a good starting point and isn’t going overboard.

With tires, I would start with a solid baseline of around 15-psi on the left side and 28-psi on the right side. But, as always, ask the people around the division what the best starting point is. They won’t tell you exactly what they’re running, but they may offer up something close to help getting you in the right direction.

***

When Brian Hoar’s No. 37 Dodge Charger nearly went onto its door during the Labor Day Classic at Thunder Road, many fans probably figured that was it for Hoar. But, as Hoar has proven for the past two years, and this year as well, his Rick Paya-led team is a championship team. So what constitutes a championship team?

Hoar’s day could have very well ended in that wreck. His team could have said the damage could be too severe and packed up, but they didn’t. They fought on, pitting numerous times for repairs, and ending up with a 16th-place, lead-lap finish.

It’s a race team’s worst nightmare: Having a good car and being patient only to get caught up in someone else’s mess and have to salvage what you can. That’s what Brian Hoar’s team did, though, and that’s why Hoar is on his way to his third-straight American-Canadian Tour championship.

The reality is, an onlooker can go down through the pits and see which teams are those types of teams. Rick Paya’s leadership set his team up with the ability to fight adversity. A team member that knows his specific role, which tool or part to grab, and what his responsibility is, will help get the car fixed not only quicker, but more completely. If what happened to Hoar had happened to an inexperienced team, that car may not have finished 16th. In fact, that car may as well have finished dead last.

It’s an old cliche: Expect the best, prepare for the worst. That’s what championship race teams do. They stay calm and composed when their once-good race car comes in for repairs, they know where every tool is and where every part is and don’t have to search for it to make quick, timely repairs.

Your team doesn’t need the fancy pit cart to accomplish that. A Street Stock team can accomplish the same feat with their open trailer, a five-drawer tool box, and a Tuff Box in the back of their truck. You just have to know where all your tools and equipment are. Have some sort of organization and keep your team calm. It’s the difference between salvaging a solid run on a bad day or being the first car out of the race, all from the same incident.

As always, email me at tj177mmi@gmail.com with your questions, thoughts, or ideas.