HAMMOND: Gordon, Johnson struggle with setups

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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.

There's something going on at Hendrick Motorsports, and I can't quite put my finger on it. It's a little bit disturbing. I'm beginning to wonder a little bit if and have lost a little bit of their edge in the second half of the season. Johnson carried the Hendrick flag in the first half of the season, but lately, he hasn't been as good as he was with only one top-five finish in the last eight races. Gordon was in a position to win several races earlier this year, but he's only had one top five since recording four consecutive top-six performances at Charlotte, Dover and the first Pocono and Michigan races of the year. At Sonoma, Gordon had one of the dominant cars. His team brought the same car to Watkins Glen, along with half or three-quarters of the field, and he didn't run nearly as well as he did in June. wasn't very good at Sonoma, but he came to Watkins Glen with the same car and ran third to winner who also drove his Sonoma car. It makes you wonder if the Hendrick group is not on their game like they need to be for some reason. I don't know what that reason would be, but they're not quite as good as they were earlier this year. Michigan will be a good measuring stick for that program and how they're going to deal with this recent rut. They've been able to keep making points, but they haven't been a threat to break through for a win. It's an unusual situation for Gordon and that group. Watching them in the garage area, it really looks like they're all searching and scratching their heads more than ever. They're not able to make decisive changes. There's a lot more cross talk between the teams so it makes me wonder. In the past, Gordon would drive in and bam, bam, bam. They make changes. They're back out. They're gaining on the track. It looks to me like they're a little bit indecisive right now which you don't expect from the 24 team.

NASCAR needs to taketh, not giveth

Will the one-inch increase to the front air dam of the Chevrolets help Hendrick's teams? For some reason, NASCAR gave the Chevys that kick out. If they got what they wanted, and they're still complaining about not being competitive with the Dodges and Fords after this week, then what else can you do? On SPEED Channel's qualifying and Trackside shows last Friday, we talked about how NASCAR is always giving cars a half inch on the air dams and an inch on the spoilers. Maybe it's time for NASCAR to take away things from the cars. Make a total change where Goodyear goes back and changes the tires. The teams keep complaining about the tires. They keep complaining about the aero push. It seems like those are the two most common denominators when it comes to complaints. The tires are too hard, and when they get the car soft enough and get the air right, it goes pretty good. If they don't, they can't drive it, etc. When NASCAR takes a car to the wind tunnel instead of saying, "O.K. Let's give them this much more to make them like these other cars." Why don't they look at taking it away from the Fords or the Dodges and bring them back to the Chevrolets? We've got some interesting situations developing as we go into next year, and that's one of the things that I'm seeing right now. Let's stop loading up the cars. Let's start taking things away.
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