NASCAR

Gas 'n' Go: Harvick happy, Busch regulars upset

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Jeff Hammond

Jeff Hammond is a former NASCAR crew chief who led Darrell Waltrip to two of his three Sprint Cup championships. The duo also teamed up to win the 1989 Daytona 500. Prior to that, Hammond was the jackman for Cale Yarborough for all three of his Cup championships. He has 43 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief. Follow him on Twitter.

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Jeff from Anaheim, Calif.: Since Kevin Harvick is running a full Busch schedule this year, is it giving him the confidence that he seemed to be lacking the last two years in the Nextel Cup Series?

Jeff Hammond: I don't think Kevin Harvick has ever lacked for confidence. It's never been in short supply, and it's one of the traits that I really like about him. It's one of his strong points. He's always confident that he can get the job done and figure out a way to make things happen. With his recent transformation in the Busch Series, Harvick has a very unique opportunity to make history and do something that hasn't been done in many years. While Richard Childress Racing won the owner championship with Harvick and Johnny Sauter in 2003, a driver hasn't driven several cars with different numbers to win a title since the 1950's or early '60's. It may not even cross Harvick's mind, but I know it crossed my mind. Having been around him for a little bit, another thing that strikes me about Harvick is that he isn't big into anything else. Like Ryan Newman, he may go fishing, do a little hunting or play a little golf, but like Ken Schrader, the main activity in Harvick's life is racing. In Nashville, he was fun doing the thing that he wants to do. When "Happy" Harvick is happy, he runs well. When you look at the overall picture, running both series may keep him more focused. He's working on racecars. He's at the racetrack. He's in a comfortable routine and environment. His wife is equally involved and happy so what better place to spend your free time than where you're the happiest.

Getting Buschwhacked

Jeannie from Blacksburg S.C.: Just wanted to send you my thoughts on all of the Cup drivers in the Busch Series. I am Johnny Davis' (owner of the No. 0 Kertus Davis) sister. It really hurts me to see my brother and nephew struggle from week to week and get to the track only to come back home empty-handed because there are so many Cup guys there. The independent teams don't stand a chance with all of that money showing up at the Busch race. When is NASCAR going to open its eyes and see they are killing the Busch race by allowing these guys to come and have "an extra practice session" because that is what it has turned out to be. Kertus is a good driver and all the team needs is a fair chance to prove itself and that will not happen as long as the Cup guys are allowed to dominate the Busch race. Thanks for allowing me to vent. Jeff Hammond: Kertus Davis is a good example of a young man and his father who work hard, but they have limited resources, support, money and technology. It's like telling somebody they have to climb Mt. Everest with only two shoestrings. It's not that it can't be done, but the degree of difficulty is just about next to impossible. These teams keep showing up. They keep the faith, and they love the sport. If Kertus was ever given the opportunity to work with somebody and show his talent on a regular basis, he would probably surprise a lot of people. It's so difficult for these guys that are running against the Nextel Cup regulars. I really hope that NASCAR will take a hard look at alternatives to allow Nashville weekends to happen more often. Busch regulars Kenny Wallace and Jon Wood had great runs. You don't want to diminish what they accomplished, but eight to 10 Cup drivers that we're going to see at Phoenix and 8 to 10 more that we're going to see at Talladega and Charlotte didn't try to make the Nashville race.
Speed Mail Jeff
A smaller number of Nextel Cup drivers than usual at Nashville still attracted a good fan base and allowed the Busch teams to see how they measured up. Jon Wood has to be walking around with his chest thrown out because he put on an awesome display on restarts and driving that ended up with a very solid 6th-place finish, and his crew performed flawlessly. You need that kind of performances when you're building a young driver's confidence and experience. We don't know if Wood's strong result would have been the same if 10 more Nextel Cup and Cup-supported teams raced at Phoenix. A lot of drivers that we hadn't seen all year long raced. Jorge Goeters from Mexico was able to get in the race, and he wouldn't have had an opportunity to race and get the seat time that he needs if more Cup drivers had raced. That's my biggest concern. I don't want to keep out these guys so we've got to look for a solution so nearly half the field isn't made up of Cup drivers.


FOX race analyst Jeff Hammond led Darrell Waltrip to two of DW's three Winston Cup championships as his crew chief. They also teamed to win the 1989 Daytona 500.

For autographed copies of Jeff Hammond's new book "Real Men Work in the Pits" plus magnets, hats and more, check out www.dwstore.com.

For photos and appearances, visit Jeff's web site www.jeffhammond.com.

Tagged: Ryan Newman, Kertus Davis, Kevin Harvick

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