NASCAR Icons readers filled the mailbag with questions for ESPN analyst Ray Evernham and he responded to some of the best ones below.
Evernham, who is co-owner of Gillett Evernham Motorsports, started out racing modifieds before making his name as a crew chief. He won three NASCAR Cup championships and 47 races with Jeff Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports in the 1990s before venturing into ownership in 2000.
Kasey Kahne, Patrick Carpentier and Elliott Sadler drive Dodges for Gillett Evernham in the Sprint Cup series this season.
Here are your questions and Evernham's answers:
Hello from a NASCAR fan in Australia. Why doesn't NASCAR have brake lights to help prevent wrecks caused by people "checking up" seconds before a wreck? Especially when we hear that the new car is hard to see through the car in front?
There are lots of different views to why they don't do that. Mainly it's because there could be so many different instances with a brake light on that could cause an accident by someone riding their foot on the brake or if you get too used to a brake deal it could send enough false signals to cause other incidents on the race track. They do use a light when they have to race in the rain; they do use somewhat of a tail light.
Just how far in the gray area was the T Rex car of Jeff Gordon when they told you not to bring it back to the track.
Rock Hill, S.C.
Actually it wasn't in the gray area. That car was built by all the rules and NASCAR knew exactly what was being done with it. It was a legal car when it was brought to the race track.
The problem was it was what they considered to be far out of the box of the direction they were trying to go. So they really rewrote the rule book basically to stop that car from competing.
... [If NASCAR had not altered the rules] it could have been bad for the sport at that time because everybody would have had to build new cars. It was neat to be part of that; I'm sure Rick Hendrick was equally frustrated because he had several hundred thousand dollars invested in that car. Engineer Rex Stump had a bunch of time and it was kind of his baby, so it was unfortunate but it's one of those things that happens in racing sometimes.
Could you explain how the tire changer gets the lug nuts off the wheel during a tire change and out of the impact wrench? Do the nuts just fall out of the wrench or what?
Cedar Falls, Iowa
Evernham: Well, you know the lug nuts are glued onto the wheel so when it pushes on, the glue stretches and then they tighten them up. But that glue is soft enough so when you hit it with the gun, that gun creates I think around 160 pounds of torque to come off. And it just breaks the glue and spins it off and the nut that's on the gun, the actual socket that's on the gun is designed in such a way that as soon as you pull the gun off the stud it spits that lug nut out for you. Some of them have springs inside that push them, used to be springs that pushed the lug nuts out but the socket is actually designed to spit that lug nut out. And they fly out onto the pit road.
I was wondering if the fabrication of the COT chassis and or components of the chassis are welded via robotics. It seems to me that you if you can control how much you affect the steel with a consistent heat and weld seam, you can get a more predictable chassis before it will see track time.
Evernham: That's true, absolutely true. We are doing those things, have been doing them. It's not just the matter of how the process of welding is done. It has, often, as much to do with the way the tubing is cut.
So we've gone to kind of a laser tubing cutting, which is a more precision way of doing it and controls the gaps that are filled by the welder. But we are finding that there is as much inconsistency in the steel tubing as there is now in our assembly process. But that's something that we have worked on for several years trying to control that welding and heat process.
But it is difficult depending on the batch of steel that you get. Using robotic-type welding, using a kind of a sequential welding process and more importantly, using the laser-cutting system to cut the tubing and fit the tubing has helped tremendously.