I See winning drivers braking into the corners instead of slowing the car by pitching it sideways

I’m on the AMSOIL Great American CT Tour and visiting lots of different racetracks. What I do is get a take on the track, its management, and the health of the racing at each location. What I like to do, probably most of all, is watch and observe the racing and make decisions on why certain teams are successful.

The winners of each race get to the checkered flag first for some reason. They are better on some level than all of their competition. In my observations, performance is less a key factor on dirt than driving style and setup.

The following is what I have observed relating to Street Stocks, Super Stocks, Modifieds (both IMCA-type and big-block NE Dirt Mods), Late Models, and WoO-type Sprint Cars. The tracks include short and long, near 1/2-mile tracks, as well as paper clip tracks with tight turns. And it includes watching top drivers like Tony Stewart, Billy Moyer, Scott Bloomquist, and Brett Hearn, winners of a large percentage of races they run, and I watch the current track points leaders at each track.

First off, I’ve seen a crate Late Model with +/- 350 hp beat a couple of full-blown open motor, 650-plus-hp Late Models purely on driving style and car attitude. And I’ve seen cars come from far behind to win when the leader faded. Here is what I see in a technical sense.

I see winning drivers braking into the corners instead of slowing the car by pitching it sideways. This is true of almost every class including Stockers, Late Models, Mods, and Sprint Cars. Even at Canandaigua Speedway, a true paper clip track, when Tony Stewart showed up, he won his heat going away by entering Turn 3 in a straight-ahead attitude to the entry point and braking to slow. He then drove straight ahead around the low side of the middle and then turned straight off Turn 4 to the wall where he turned again to go down the straightaway.

That style was in stark contrast to 95 percent of the other cars running there which blasted into the turns, swung the car sideways, hammered the throttle, spun the tires, and watched as Smoke drove away. In another heat where the current track points leader won, he drove the very same way. Imagine that.

Most of the winners in Winged Sprint Car races I’ve seen end up running the top, straight ahead for the most part, and keeping the car straight. Thinking about that, it makes sense to keep the wing at an attitude where the most air will flow across it and will then produce the most downforce.

Recently, at Fonda Speedway, the winner of the Sprint Car race ran the top driving straight ahead and was so fast that after the cautions would pull almost a full straight lead over second place after only two laps. He almost never got sideways. Lots of other cars did and they lost.

I saw a well-known, big-block Mod driver with 800 wins doing the same thing, entering Turns 1 and 3 mostly straight ahead, driving with a slight drift of the rear wheels through the middle of the turns and then drive straight off the turns when most of the others, far behind, were throwing their cars sideways and putting on quite a visual show, and losing. One car even carried its left front tire off the track all of the way down the straights. He looked cool but soon faded and lost too.

All of these comments are based on observations. They aren’t what I think things are like or want them to be, but what is actually winning races right now. I always promoted four wheel setups where the LF is always in hard contact with the track and straight ahead driving and corner braking like I did years ago racing karts on dirt. It worked for me then and it works for the winners on dirt now.

I know these things because I see them happening. Think hard about the way you circle the track and see if you can make some adjustments to your driving line and style. Keeping momentum is the key and these styles are successful because they add up to a shorter time spent running each lap.

If you have comments or questions about this or anything racing related, send them to my email address: Bob.Bolles@sorc.com, or mail can be sent to Circle Track, Senior Tech Editor, 9036 Brittany Way, Tampa, FL 33619.

Upset With My Comments

Though Mr. Bolles (who I’m sure will see this email since he is the Senior Technical Editor) did point out many attributes to Kil Kare Speedway in Xenia, Ohio, he was quick to state the negatives. A little research on the facility would have gone a long way.

This track has been open since 1959 and racing regularly ever since, and there is no indication it’s going to close its gates any time soon. Not only does it race NASCAR Whelen All American Series, Street Stocks, and Compacts, but it also occasionally hosts ARCA and USAR Pro Cup events as well. The sign which you suggest a lack of confidence in the track’s future, has been that way for a while. I guess they see it as getting the job done.

You failed to mention that there is a law enforcement presence here just as well as Columbus Motor Speedway. Friday night hosts round track events due to Saturdays being reserved for the NHRA Summit Racing Equipment Series on the quarter-mile. Car turnout varies weekly, I will admit.

My father took me to the track for the first time in 1973 when I was 2, and I’ve been going ever since. It holds a special place in the hearts of local race fans here in the Miami Valley Region of Ohio. I just wanted to clear up a few things before I hit the sack.

—Jeremy T. Sellers; Paramedic by trade, race fan by passion!

Well Jeremy,

When I report on two tracks so close together, I’m sure to strike a nerve with someone. In re-reading my account of Kil-Kare, I said some really nice things about the track and made some suggestions for getting more of the Columbus racers to attend and possibly bringing up the numbers of competitors.

I understand the Friday night thing and if the races were run on Saturday night, it would be even worse with the competition with Columbus. So, I don’t disagree with running Fridays, I just thought a Thursday practice might entice a few racers to travel from Columbus and run two shows a weekend.

The comment about the sign is an honest one, although you took offense. Sure, it’s cheaper than a dedicated sign, but it does look temporary, doesn’t it? Things are as people see them. A track that is intent on being in business for some time into the future should project that idea in the appearance of the facility and that includes the sign.

I did like the track and the racing was excellent. I appreciate the management letting us visit and I encourage both fans and racers to try out this track. The layout is interesting and challenging and that is what most racers are looking for.