New year, new rules: Rule No. 2
Rule No. 2: Turn right once in a while
NASCAR officials say they're open to any out-of-the-box idea that helps turn around sagging ratings and sales. Well, then, we suggest the most radical reboot of all: Run races clockwise.
Three times in-season and once during the Chase would make it less of a gimmick and more a test of skill. Plus, it would make us smile.
"I get a headache just thinking about it," says Gil Martin, crew chief for Kevin Harvick. "It would affect everything from pit stops to how we get fuel to the engine. But I can fix all that. What I worry about is drivers heading off in the wrong direction."
We'll keep our fingers crossed about that last part, but members of a few crews provided a list of needed tweaks.
• Weight distribution Builders create low centers of gravity by attaching tungsten blocks along the lower-left undersides of cars. That added weight would need to shift to the right.
• Fuel nozzle Because cars would enter Pit Road on the right, the intake for the fuel tank would have to be moved from the left-rear corner to the right-rear corner.
• Tire stagger Crews create a turning tendency in tires by manipulating air pressure, specifically, keeping inside tires slightly smaller than the outside ones. The inside tires become the right ones.
• Tire camber Tires are mounted on a tilt to ensure maximum surface contact through the turns. A right-turn race calls for an outside-in, not an inside-out, lean.
• Rear-end kick-out Currently, cars are set up so the right rear runs a couple of degrees off-center, improving aerodynamics heading through a corner. In our new world, the left rear needs to be kicked out.
• Driver's seat A racer's head and body are naturally thrown into the banking of a turn. To compensate for right-to-left forces, the car's padding and headrests have to be shifted to the opposite side.
• Pit stops The entire pit box setup -- and the mind-set of the crew -- has to flip. The gas man shifts sides, the sign man too. And left tires will get changed first instead of the rights.