HAMMOND: Evernham, Dodge do no wrong at Pocono

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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.

As he showed again this past weekend, car owner Ray Evernham has the ability to develop and motivate drivers who may need a jolt of confidence and a rocket underneath them. At the same time, Evernham has helped design the Dodge Intrepid to be the envy of the other manufacturers. At Pocono, he gave a young driver, , an opportunity to win Saturday's ARCA race and let him know that he has the ability, under the right circumstances, to be successful. At the same time, he has rejuvenated and motivated a veteran, , who a lot of people said couldn't win anymore.

HAMMOND: Wish son could have appreciated Victory Lane
It's just great to see have a smile on his face and see his son Chase and his wife there to enjoy Victory Lane. I don't think it gets much better than when you share that moment with your family. echoed that sentiment when he took his son Matt to Victory Lane at Charlotte in May. Matt had never really seen Mark win when he could understand and appreciate it, but now he can and now he has. If I do miss one thing about being a crew chief, it's that my son Colt was not old enough to really and truly appreciate when Darrell and I were winning races and being really successful. He's been to Victory Lane many times, but he was too young to really appreciate it so I really understand and appreciate what Elliott and Martin have gone through with their families.

POLL POSITION: Is 500 miles too much at Pocono? No, but track needs help.
To my mind, the issue isn't the length of the race but what we can do to help prevent the kind of delays that we saw on Sunday. There could be a better retaining wall instead of the guardrail that they have now. hit a moveable highway construction wall that should have been permanent. Several of the wrecked cars may not have been damaged as badly or may not have even hit the wall if there had been asphalt in place of grass. Let know and watch for the answer weeknights at 6 p.m. local on Fox Sports Net and 6:30 p.m. ET on SPEED.
There are some drivers who have gotten a bad rap that they are set in their ways and just don't care. Ray Evernham has been able to see past that rap, just as Robert Yates has done with . When they're given the right situation, they have shown that they still love to race and win. Evernham is building on the knowledge he has gained through years, working with guys like , car owner Rick Hendrick and a lot of the International Race of Champions (IROC) teams. He got his start as a mechanic in IROC and picked up a ton of knowledge, not only from NASCAR teams, but Indy car and Formula One teams as well. He's not a one-dimensional owner, crew chief or racer. He adjusts well to different forms of racing and different personalities. My hat's off to Ray for a job well done as an owner and a leader of his race team. And if motivation and momentum account for anything, and Elliott and Evernham have something better than the competition back at the stables, the field had better look out at Indianapolis.

Dodge knows nose

As tests Chevrolet's 2003 Monte Carlo this week at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, it looks like it will be along the same lines as the Dodge that Evernham helped design for the manufacturer's return to Winston Cup racing last year. Probably the most critical part of any racecar is the nose. The nose and the tail are very, very important:
  • the way the back end is squared up and displaces air away from the racecar
  • the way air breaks over the car vs. what goes under the car. All these things are very critical in car design as we've continually learned since the late 1980s when we began to really understand the importance of aerodynamics. Manufacturers are gravitating toward Dodge's design because, at the moment, Dodge has the best of all these aero elements. That's why car designs going forward might start to look a lot like Dodges.

    Young guns on target at the triangle

    It was unbelievable to see push his engine to 9500 rpms on Sunday. You're asking your engine a lot to run 500 miles and put up with the varying rpms that Pocono throws at you, but to sustain 9500, it's unbelievable. Larry Wallace and the Penske engine department have built strong enough parts to allow Newman to push the car all the way to fifth place. And after his runner-up finish at Pocono, what continues to amaze me about is how he is backing up the ability that I knew he had when I worked with him in his first seven Winston Cup starts in 2000. When he goes back to racetracks a second time, his ability to communicate with his team and to be better than the time before is truly special. If you talk to his crew chief Jimmy Fennig, look into Jimmy's eyes and see the smile on his face, working with this young man has really been a big boost to Jimmy and that whole group that came over from the 6 team to the 97 car this year.
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