The driver must communicate how the car feels and make suggestions for improvement.
TiresIf your car is on a rail with no problems with balance and it is fast, and then the setup suddenly goes away after you have changed tires, don't blame the setup. When the handling goes away, make sure that it isn't because of a hard tire or a mismatched set. Always suspect the tires and try another set right away without changing any setup parameters.
I have experienced many cases where a bad set of tires completely changed the setup balance for the worse. I have recently communicated with racers who experienced the same thing, even with new tires. Try to pick your tires with matching batch numbers. Take a durometer gauge with you when choosing tires. A hard tire will show up on the meter.
Basic SetupBe immediately aware of basic handling problems once you get the car up to speed. Don't make 10 laps or more with a car that is way out of whack. All you will do is overheat a tire and cause more problems with excess tire heat and wear.
Experienced drivers make great crewchiefs. Jimmy Spencer is a good example of this.
Come in and discuss the problem, come to a solution, make an adjustment, and then return to the track to evaluate the change. Do all of this quickly until the car is close. Then, and only then, make 10 lap runs to decide on fine-tuning steps.
Race FeedbackFrom the moment the green flag drops, the driver should be aware of the balance of the car at all critical points on the track. As the race progresses, there may be an opportunity to come in and make a change without losing a lap. If it is late in a long race, there may be fewer cars on the lead lap, allowing for a better chance to make it back to the front.
If no changes are possible, at the very least the crew can confer after the race is over on possible solutions to the handling problems. Here is where precise and complete disclosure of information is badly needed. Sometimes there might be a difference between the used practice tires and new ones that is consistent and can be anticipated in advance.
It may be that the track conditions have changed and affected the setup. Again, a solution can be found for future races. In that event, the race was a refined practice session that can have positive results as long as information was derived from it.
Hooters driver Jay Fogleman and car builder Jay Hedgecock talk about basic handling issues
Sometimes it all comes down to the fact that the driver did not run as hard in practice as in the race. Handling is g-force sensitive. If the car is run harder in one session than the other, there may be a difference in balance between the two. Great drivers run practice just like the race-as hard as possible. They are then able to trust the feel of the car related to how it will feel under race conditions.
Experience And ChemistryThe art of communication is developed over time. The more experience a team has and the more time they spend together, the better their communication skills should be. If the communication is getting worse, then adjustments must be made in either the process or the personnel.
Chemistry is often the key ingredient. Personalities must be taken into consideration. Some folks just get along and think alike, and some don't. That is just human nature. The sooner a team owner figures out that his team has good communication skills or not, the better he can determine the chances of success for that team.
It helps to know the car inside and out. Bobby Gill works on his own car and knows everyth
Young drivers and old crewchiefs may be a problem because of the generation gap. That is not necessarily true in all cases, but it can be a factor. The legendary Dick Anderson has teamed up with Jason Boyd, a young and rising talent, to a degree of success. They get along and respect each other, and that works.
Remember that the most successful drivers, especially those who have risen to the top in the Nextel Cup series, all have one thing in common that helped propel them through the years, and that is a refined sense of feel for the car and the ability to communicate that back to the team. If your driver insists on you figuring out the problem with little or useless feedback from him, then it is time to speak up and make him understand the damage he does.
Remind your driver that we can all see the Nextel Cup drivers on TV talking with the crewchief and constantly communicating how the car feels and what the driver thinks should be done. Have you ever wondered why some drivers make it and some don't? The answer is communication-plain and simple.