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Phoenix in focus: Light windshields, loose tires and more
Slower stops camper competitionDan from Milton, Vt.: After watching Jimmie Johnson's crew and Ryan Newman's crew struggle with tire problems in Sunday's race, just how are the tires changed so fast? In particular how do they line up the lugs so quickly? Will slower pit stops help eliminate problems with loose tires? Jeff Hammond: The lugnuts are glued on to the wheels and tape on the tires help the tire carriers line them up for the tire changers to do their jobs. Slower pit stops may help alleviate tire problems on pit road, but NASCAR goes through with smaller fuel spouts as reported over the weekend, race fans are going to be sorely disappointed with the lack of competition off of pit road. I just hope that NASCAR realizes that the race off of pit road has always added to the drama on the race track. Otherwise they might as well say, "OK guys, when the caution comes out, we're all going to come down pit road, and you're going to go back out and reclaim the same position." I just don't agree with slowing down pit stops. It's another one of those key aspects of NASCAR racing, and they shouldn't mess with it.
Black flag judgment callRon from Richmond, Va.: Why are cars allowed to keep running around on track until they blow up and cause a caution? Everyone could see Matt Kenseth was going to blow, but why allow him to blow on track and cause a caution? Jeff Hammond: It's a judgment call. If a guy is definitely having a problem and his intention is to try to keep his car from going a lap down, NASCAR can wave the black flag, but you just never know until it happens. I know it's frustrating sometimes, but I've been on that side of the equation. You've got a tire going down, and you're trying to stay on the lead lap so you stay out as long as you can until either the caution comes out or you get caught up with the field before you come down pit road. It can be frustrating, but it's part of the business that we have to deal with.
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Freeze tag: Caution in the pitsGloria from Round Lake, N.Y.: How did Jeff Gordon regain the race lead after getting caught in the pits during a late caution at Phoenix? Jeff Hammond: It has a lot to do with where Gordon pitted as far as the time lines are concerned. If he was able to beat the leader off of pit road, he would not go down a lap. The way the stops cycled through is probably how he wound up staying on the lead lap and getting back to the lead. A lot of times you have to see the big picture to totally understand what happened. It can be a little bit confusing, but when the field is frozen, causing the leader to slow down, factors into whether somebody gets caught or not.
FOX race analyst Jeff Hammond led
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