‘The Best Seat in the House’ at Richmond

[media-credit id=5 align=”alignright” width=”255″][/media-credit]Back on the seat again….. I was fortunate enough again to take part in Pennzoil’s “Best Seat in the House” at the Richmond International Speedway. As a guest of the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge car driven by Kurt Busch, I was given a great view of the track and a behind the scenes look at all of the night’s action with the Pennzoil crew.

While taking the tour of the No. 22 hauler I got a view of what it takes to get to each race and all of the supplies and equipment necessary to compete. The team hauler holds two race cars, a primary and a backup car along with all of the parts necessary to repair or fix a race car during the weekend. This also includes three engines (one spare engine along with the engine that is in the backup car). Essentially the team hauler is a rolling shop.

Each team also has forty rims (enough for ten 4-tire pit stops) that are later equipped with leased tires from Goodyear. The only tires the team has are the eight tires that are on the two cars when entering the track. All tires are Micro-chipped and inventoried by Goodyear. Goodyear knows exactly where each tire goes and when it comes back. The team cannot leave the track until all of the tires are accounted for.

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[media-credit id=5 align=”alignright” width=”256″][/media-credit]The team hauler is long and narrow but contains more than you would expect. Each crew member has their own spot for their personal items. Some of the space is used to house communication equipment but most of the remaining space houses parts, a lot of them. Everything is organized in certain locations and each member knows where to locate what might be needed during a race weekend. The team’s organization is the key to keeping the team going at the pace needed during the race weekend.

After a few minutes with crew chief Steve Addington, I quickly found out the team was struggling this weekend. Although optimistic, Addington knew they had a lot of work to do.

Being atop the No. 22 Pennzoil pit box, or better known as the “war wagon”, is an experience in itself. The short climb straight up to the seating area in the pit box is just an undertaking like no other. You know it’s a special place. You can feel the action and you have a view like no other.

The No. 22 Pennzoil pit box was positioned just coming out of turn four, with a great look at the start/finish line. Unfortunately, the finish line ahead was going to be a rough one for the team.

[media-credit id=5 align=”alignright” width=”240″][/media-credit]After all of the last minute preparations that take place before the green flag. The team stopped for a few minutes in observance of the race prayer and the national anthem.

I received a team radio/headset which allowed me to hear the conversations between the crew chief Steve Addington and the rest of the No. 22 Pennzoil team during the race. The team was not happy from the start. They qualified 37th and the team radio proved to be the highlight of the night as Kurt Busch was not happy, to put it lightly before the race even began.

To say that the race was uneventful for the No 22 team is a lie. There were no real incidents early on with the No. 22 team but the struggles the team had during practice and qualifying had taken a toll on its driver and from the confines of his car Busch let the team have it. He was naming names and some were Penske Racing executives. At one point he was using nothing but four letter words. He also said, “I can’t fix this, neither can you.”

On Lap 44 the No. 22 Pennzoil Dodge started having handling trouble. Green flag conditions did not allow the team to make any adjustments and by lap 70, Busch went a lap down.

The team was able to make adjustments on lap 82 and then again on lap 107 after the first caution flag of the night.

Adjustments the included air pressure and track bar and the removal of a spring rubber where not enough as the team fell yet another lap down on lap 181 after the handling went away again.

Then on lap 237, Montoya spun out Newman in turn-3. As Newman was trying to spin his car back around, Busch ran into Newman. The No. 22 Dodge sustained damage to the left-front quarter-panel.

The race ended with younger brother Kyle Busch winning the race and the No. 22 team finished 22nd, three laps down despite all of the difficulties.

[media-credit id=5 align=”alignleft” width=”226″][/media-credit]“It was a very frustrating and long night for us. We put ourselves behind in qualifying and had to start from the back. Once the race went green, our car just wore through tires by 40 laps into a run. We never could back on the lead lap and just when I thought that our car was getting better, we got collected after the 42 and 39 got together.” Busch said after the race.

A special thanks to Pennzoil, the No. 22 team and everyone else involved that made this opportunity available to me again this season.

About Pennzoil

The current Pennzoil sponsorship not only affords tremendous brand recognition with a leading NASCAR team, but affords the brand a true testing ground for Pennzoil® motor oils under some of the harshest racing conditions. Pennzoil engineers work closely with Penske Racing to develop motor oil formulations to help maximize performance and engine reliability for the team throughout the season, with each change contributing to the advancement of the brand’s technology. This collaboration provides Pennzoil scientists with the ability to test existing and new motor oil technology to gain insights from the track that can be translated directly into the formulation of its consumer motor oils. All Pennzoil® motor oils exceed the most stringent car manufacturer standards for engine cleanliness and protection. No other leading motor helps keep engines cleaner than Pennzoil®.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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