Nascar Exclusive Race Report

Stewart-Haas Race Report:
Bristol Motor Speedway | 4/24/2017

Greg Zipadelli|Vice President of Competition, Stewart-Haas Racing

Friday: Practice (Qualifying was rained out, field was set by owner points)

“Everyone was worried about qualifying because track position is so important. The pit selection is so tight. You always try to come to Bristol with a pretty solid car and good balance in race trim. Things happen so quick you have to know where you’re at and get a good feel for your car. We had some rain in the morning, so they canceled qualifying and gave all three series 55 minutes of practice, which is a little unusual. As it turned out, it might have been a good thing because we got the opportunity to run our cars in race trim.”

Saturday: Practice

“We came back in the morning and the cars were a lot better and more drivable. They added this VHT compound to the bottom of the track. It seemed to be slick at first, but it got better with heat. It was kind of cold, damp and rainy, so it wasn’t exactly playing in everyone’s favor. The changes we made overnight seemed to improve all four of our cars. We just worked on some longer runs. The last few years, the track has rubbered-up and the lane has moved all the way up to the wall. We haven’t been able to get up there yet because it’s so slick and the bottom has so much grip with the VHT. We’re thinking somewhere between lap 200 to 300 it’s going to wear down and everyone will start moving to the top of the racetrack. Now you worry that the setup for the bottom is still good for the top, because you’re in the gas so much earlier at the top. We need to be a bit freer for our exits and keep the car turning. I feel like we have a couple of great racecars and the drivers were happy with what they had in our debrief. It will be a bit of a guessing game to figure out if we give up a little on the bottom to try and be better at the top. I think we’re going to try and get as much adjustability as we can with our cars, so as the race goes on we can free them up and get back to where we were.

“There was a little bit of tire wear, but the racetrack was green. This racetrack usually takes the rubber and, as it does, tire wear gets better. It’s usually the front tires that feather up and the left front will usually grain up. That seemed to get better as practice went on. It’s a really fine line now and you’ve got to really hit your marks. All of the series running on it before the Cup race really cleans the racetrack. With the rain overnight we’ll have to start all over. It’s really a unique situation with the weather and the way they’re running the races.”

Monday: Race (Event was postponed from Sunday to Monday due to rain)

“It was a long day. We got so much rain at the racetrack all weekend. The VHT they put on the bottom was definitely different from practice. All of our cars started out pretty loose to begin with. The track took a lot of rubber and the top groove started to come in, so we had to make adjustments for that because you run so much faster up there. The (Nos.) 14 (Clint Bowyer) and the 4 (Kevin Harvick) did a really good job battling all day and getting really strong finishes. It’s a shame the (No.) 41 (Kurt Busch) wrecked so early because he was pretty good in practice. He was pretty close to the other cars and you would hope, as good as he is here, he would be up there challenging everyone. They did a great job battling back from where they were from 40th to finish 25th. Danica (Patrick) got into the wall early and messed up the tail of the car then got to racing some other cars three-wide down the backstretch, which is always a recipe for disaster here. Overall, we had two cars that gained a lot of points today and two that lost a lot. We’ll just go back and look to make sure we learn for when we come back in the fall. That will be such an important race leading into the playoffs.”