NASCAR

HAMMOND: Chevy advantage neutralizes Dodge

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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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Arguably the points race has come down to a question of whether Chevrolet's kick-out and aerodynamic package have finally kicked in, and their drivers -- and in particular -- are starting to flex their muscles. Is Dodge at a disadvantage? Based on what I saw this weekend, the Intrepids can keep up, and they had some pretty good runs going, but I didn't see them have the muscle that they had earlier this season. As we get ready for the final seven races of the season, this question looms large in the garage. Granted, luck has a lot to do with Dodge's performance lately, but the top two drivers for that manufacturer -- and -- are really having a hard time getting up to the front like they were at one time. In the nearly two months since NASCAR gave General Motors the kick-out (August 8), Chevy has had a chance to test the modifications on the track and in the wind tunnel. They've been able to come up with the best, balanced package, and all of the sudden, the cars are running through the corners like they need to be. Everybody needs to keep an eye on that aero issue and make a judgement call for himself whether this General Motors kick-out has been a good or bad thing for the sport.

Hashing out horsepower problems

Another discussion going on in the garage has been that Ford has got more horsepower than the rest of the field. But engine trouble has been a sore subject for the Fords at Roush Racing this season. With three of the four Roush teams having an engine problem on Sunday, more than likely, there was an issue there, but you'd have to get the answer from Jack Roush himself or somebody in that department. A lot of times this year, their cars have been running good in final practice, and then they have a problem and have to go to the back of the pack. Unfortunately for , it's a problem that's out of their hands. There's nothing that he and the team can but do the best they can and let the chips fall where they may. While I'm not sure what the problem is, I do know for a fact that if there are problems, Jack Roush will turn over every stone to find out what's going on, why it's going on, and they will implement changes immediately. He won't say, "Well, it was just a fluke deal." Jack does not believe in throwing caution to the wind when it comes to trying to make sure his cars get home. He's always had reliable engines in the past, but right now, they've got some issues for whatever reason.

Tracking tire issues to the track

The Kansas race turned out to have a lot of -- as the TNT folks like to call it -- drama, but I'm not really thrilled with the way things turned out. It got better as the day went on, but early on, there were very few passes for the lead, and we had more lead changes on pit road than on the racetrack. And all the cut tires really cost several drivers. Some guys got into the wall because of it, and other guys -- like -- could have had a better day than they did but didn't because of a cut tire. Goodyear builds the same basic style and type of tire for every Winston Cup track. They don't have a really thin tread or surface for a place like Kentucky, then a thicker one when you go to a place like Dover. When you start seeing a lot of cut tires for no reason, there's something on the racetrack. Either the marbles are coming up or the safety workers aren't doing their job. It has to do with the racetrack. I don't think it's tire-related. For more information about NASCAR on FOX analyst Jeff Hammond, including photos from his past and present days in NASCAR, check out JeffHammond.com.

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