Cup teams not only ones rolling with changes in '11


Crew chiefs and drivers in NASCAR aren't the only ones frazzled entering the year's first racing weekend.

Old reporters can be mired in preseason panic. Granted, adjusting a desk chair is easier than Sprint Cup teams preparing cars for the new rules and the new racing surface of Daytona International Speedway.

But we, too, must fine-tune.

I relish remembrances of living in the good old days, though not as much as 90-year-old Chris Economaki, who, I think, still types his stories on a manual machine with ink ribbon and carriage return lever.

I've used portable computers for 30 years since before the days of the Radio Shack TRS-80 -- the original laptop -- when mobile computers were in suitcases and too heavy to lift into an overhead bin. If they'd fit.

And when the affordable cell phone was the 3-pound Motorola brick, which, compared to a Blackberry, is going from a Buick Regal stock car in 1980 to today's machines that even have power steering.

It wasn't until a year ago that texting became part of my daily routine. It seemed that and Facebook would keep me dialed into the digital age. It did for a while.

Then along came Twitter. With technical support from a trusted co-worker this week, I stumbled further into the 21st century of social networking but still lag about a year behind my coolest motorhead brethren.

I've been called a twit before, but today I'm all atwitter that I'm tweeting on Twitter. Poor Donald Duck would dehydrate trying to spit out that sentence.

With one foot and a few toes dipping deeper into the streaming info flow, I'm ready for the nitty-gritty of this weekend's action when the spit hits the cooling fan.

Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Budweiser Shootout invitational will serve as my tweeting test session while drivers and teams key on new variables for 2011.

The newly paved Daytona oval is only one change for 30 eligible drivers, and those racing will get a foot up for the Feb. 20 Daytona 500.

The Shootout is a nonpoints race. The purse is about $1 million, but information gained will have greater value.

Cup cars will feature new noses without air blades, known as "splitters," which have been shipped to Charlotte's NASCAR Museum to sit in storage alongside shelved rear wings.

Cup teams get one fewer crew member over the wall since the "catch-can" man has been dumped from the fueling duo, which could lead to some Keystone Kops pit stops.

Fuel has gone light green with Sunoco unleaded being blended with 15 percent American-made ethanol so crew chiefs will turn a sickly green fretting over unproven gas mileage data.

NASCAR season is upon us, and the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is just three weeks away.

Teams -- and I -- have few races to get acclimated to the ever-changing world.

Keep cell phones and laptops powered so when the Shootout goes green your power lights are a matching color.

And follow me on Twitter, where I hope to be more easily understood than Donald Duck.

Jeff Wolf's motor sports column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at jwolf@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0247. Visit lvrj.com/motorsports for more news and commentary, and follow Wolf on Twitter: @lvrjwolf.

 

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