NASCAR

Hendrick teams will bounce back

Jeff Hammond on the differences on pit strategies at Sonoma and road courses.
Jeff Hammond on the differences on pit strategies at Sonoma and road courses.
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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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Everyone knows by now that Hendrick Motorsports' best finisher last Sunday was Jimmie Johnson in 28th. That’s the first time since 2005 that there wasn’t a single Hendrick car in the top 25 in a race.

The reality is their cars performed a lot better than the results showed. That’s what has to help ease the pain of last weekend. They were competitive. The problems are identifiable, and actually one of them simply was unavoidable.

Now, if you had unloaded at Michigan and been embarrassed by running that poorly, then sure it would have been a lot harder to swallow. Also, quite honestly, the way our sport is now, we don’t look back because we are always looking forward. Remember the rule that Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus live by? By noon on Monday of the next week, whether you crashed out or won the race, it’s over, the book's closed and you’re looking forward to the next race.

It just so happens this rule needs to apply to all four cars after last weekend. The race engineers will dissect what happened. For lack of a better term, they will do an autopsy on the car and race to see what can be or needs to be changed in the future, if anything. The parts are evaluated as the car is torn apart.

While they are doing that, you are already thinking about next week. You simply have to. What happened last week was ugly, but you know what, it’s over and now we gear up for Sonoma. I know that three of the four Hendrick drivers are very excited to be here this weekend and will look to make up for what happened at Michigan. That cat behind the wheel of the No. 88 ... ehhhhh ... not so much. Trust me, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is not a fan of road course racing.

Hendrick Motorsports is also one of the toughest teams out there when it comes to dealing with adversity on and off the race track. I just see them putting what happened at Michigan in the rearview mirror and moving on. Let’s use Jimmie Johnson as an example. He basically gave a win away at Dover, only to come back with a vengeance the very next week at Pocono to win the race.

None of those four teams can allow themselves to be distracted by what happened last weekend. It’s over with. If they do, trust me, their competitors will take advantage of all that. So look for Hendrick Motorsports to rebound Sunday here at Sonoma with no lingering repercussions of what happened last week at Michigan.

Tagged: Jimmie Johnson, Ron Fellows, Boris Said

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