Crew chief analysis: How rain delay impacts teams
February 23, 2014, Chris Rice, Special to NASCAR.com, NASCAR.com
Drivers, crews have to fight losing their edge during the break
Editor's note: Chris Rice, crew chief for the No. 99 Rheem Toyota for RAB Racing and driver James Buescher in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, has joined us for the Daytona 500. Here is his first-person analysis on how Sunday's rain delay impacts the Great American Race:
Every day I get up, before I go to the race track, I watch the weather or the radar. Religiously. I have three different weather apps on my phone.
When it rains, the first big thing that, as a crew chief, you have to worry about is pit crew because they're going to go eat, relax and get out of the zone. As far as the race car goes, as long as water doesn't get in the cowl or the gas, it's going to be OK.
Daytona is not as bad as somewhere like a mile-and-a-half track or short track, where rain washes all the rubber off the race track. This place, you don't wear the tires like you do at someplace else.
The driver, he starts off mentally focused on the race and then all of a sudden, it rains. So he does the same thing as the pit crew, he has something to eat, he takes a break. Once he gets his focus back, it's just like riding a bike. You get back in the rhythm and that comes back pretty quick. That's why they're professionals.
Our crew chief strategy doesn't really change. You have the fuel windows that you have to hit that dictate your strategy anyway. This is not going to change that much, this rain.
The big thing that rain hurts that people don't think about is scheduling for Phoenix. When the green flag drops at Daytona, it's a race to get to the checkered flag at Homestead. Now your guys are there from 7 o'clock in the morning and you're already two hours or more behind. It just goes on and on. That's more of a kicker than anything else. You're always on a schedule.