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NASCAR Media Conference

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  NASCAR

NASCAR Media Conference

Robin Pemberton
Gene Stefanyshyn
December 11, 2013


KERRY THARP: We have been joined by Gene Stefanyshyn and Robin Pemberton.
Gene, talk about the importance of this test, maybe what you've seen so far this morning.
GENE STEFANYSHYN: Just the ground rules: I'll take all the easy questions and Robin will take all the hard ones (laughter).
No, we're very fortunate. We've been putting together this plan for, oh, probably a couple of months. As you are all aware we did an initial test here in October. We got some information. We've been very fortunate that we've actually had a huge participation. We have 30 cars out there. We're trying to exercise all this in a real‑world environment.
We've run one configuration. We have four more to go. It's too early to draw any conclusions at the moment. We'll be comparing configuration A to B to C to D. We've run the first one and now they're setting up the second one. We're waiting for some of the analytical data to be loaded into our database and to analyze that.
KERRY THARP: Robin, in talking with the race teams, as we know you do very closely, what are some of the things you're hearing from them as it pertains to the 2014 rules package?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: It's like Gene said, it's too early to tell. The configuration, the first one we ran, we knew was probably going to be the tightest for the day.
One of the things that we learned and the reason we're back here with so many cars is it is different when you have 30 cars or 25 cars out there versus the six. It was important for us to come back here with a field of cars that we did. It gave us a little bit different view on some of the answers. It's put us in some different directions. We'll just continue to work on it through the rest of the day.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions for Robin and Gene.

Q. Talk a little bit about the simulated races. Robin, you mentioned six versus 30. Talk about getting that done, the importance of having all those cars on the racetrack.
ROBIN PEMBERTON: Well, as everybody knows, it's very seldom that you ever run by yourself unless you get a healthy lead. With aerodynamics playing such a key role, it's important that we run as many cars as we can. Different tracks give us a little bit different feel as far as aerodynamics, different grooves.
Some of the input from this morning is when they were in line with another car, they didn't like it, but if you moved up or down, it took on a significantly different feel. That in itself at least gives you some direction to work in.
You can never have enough cars when you go test things like this.

Q. I wondered if it was possible at all, if everything were to go as you hoped, best‑case scenario on what you're testing, how could you quantify for fans or us what the difference may be in what we see on the racetrack. Is everything tested today specific to 1.5 mile tracks or could it apply to other speedways?
GENE STEFANYSHYN: Right now we're focusing on 1.5s. But obviously any of the learning can be applied to other tracks.
Really what we're attempting to do here is to get closer competition and more passing, closer competition, the cars running closer in the pack, passing more with an eye for the fans. That's basically what we're doing.
We're using various metrics to look at that, like the first‑to‑fifth time differentials, the time differentials between the 10 fastest laps, those types of things. Those are the types of metrics. There's many more, but that's just an example.

Q. Robin, in your comment a minute ago you said the first package was the tightest. Could you explain what you mean by that.
ROBIN PEMBERTON: It's the most balance to the rear. Tight, the rear stuck more than the front. In traffic, generally that's something that you have to work on. So we're taking the tightest package, and there's a logical progression in another direction.

Q. With all of us covering this, with all the data that we have of what you're trying, could too much be made of what you're doing today? What will you go away from here not knowing until you go back and digest it?
GENE STEFANYSHYN: We have many streams of data. Some of it is real‑time. We're collecting that. Some we'll have to take out of the vehicles, like wheel forces, those types of things. We should have all that data by the end of the day.
Instantaneously we won't have it all, but we will have the picture painted it should be by late tonight or early in the morning.

Q. Do you anticipate additional testing beyond what you've got scheduled in Daytona? When do you anticipate the final rules being signed off on?
ROBIN PEMBERTON: Rules are ASAP, hopefully beginning of next week for Gene, right?
As far as additional testing, the test policy for next year remains the same for the teams with the exception that we've changed the days from three to two with a rain day or weather day.
We are looking and will look at a couple of places that we may go in a day early to give teams opportunities to test.

Q. With all the information you're taking, in essence what means the most or how do you differentiate? If the driver said one thing, the analytics say another thing, what your eye shows you out on the track says another thing, can you talk about what matters. There's a lot of information flow coming in.
GENE STEFANYSHYN: We have subjective data. We view it with our eye on the Jumbotron. We capture that video. We have objective data, hard data, which we measure. We put that in. Then we have the views of the people who have the car in their hand. We have to take all that, triangulate it, try to find the alliance and what makes sense.
Yeah, it's just a matter of looking at it all. If the data says this, there's somebody that says something totally different, we scratch our head, see what other people said. You kind of balance it all.
It's not a perfect science, but we try to take all those inputs and utilize them in the triangulation to find the right answer.
You will never get 100% agreement on everything. So really you're kind of looking for the 70% answer here that kind of leads you in the right direction.

Q. To what extent have you been able to test and simulate these changes prior to actually seeing the cars on track?
GENE STEFANYSHYN: I think we talked about this the last time. But basically we do a lot of simulation using engineering tools such as CFD, computational fluid dynamics. We do a lot of single‑car analysis to determine that. We also use tools such as going into the wind tunnel. We use that, which is one‑car related. We do have all that. Then we do mine some of our data from the races. We do use all that. Then we talk to people based on experience, their many years of experience in the racing business.
Finally, when it's all said and done, there's no wind tunnel where you can put 30 cars in, or CFD model where you can do that. We do all that to get our best hypothesis or answer. Really what it comes down to is 30 cars running around the track and seeing how it all works and measuring that. That's kind of the nature of the work.
KERRY THARP: Gentlemen, thanks for coming in.



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