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Mayfield, Rudd could be '07's biggest surprises
Jeff Hammond: It's fun to go back and forth to figure out exactly who is going to be a surprise. Robert Yates and Ricky Rudd together again is a surprise because I didn't expect to see Rudd running for a full season since he basically went into a long vacation last year. So far, they've come out looking good in their preseason tests. Yates always has strong engines so he could easily be a surprise. Ford is the only manufacturer with no changes to its car heading into 2007. They need to get stronger so Yates and Roush Racing return to where they need to be. Don't forget that Robby Gordon is a new addition in the Blue Oval camp, which could be exciting for Ford. Rudd is a veteran. We saw he could come off the bench and have a strong run for the No. 20 team when Tony Stewart was hurt at Dover last year. He's back home, and he knows Robert and Doug Yates. He tested with crew chief Butch Hylton before Daytona, and a lot of the guys on that team have told me it is working well. Rudd is also helping his teammate David Gilliland already.
If Toyota has a chance, it's going to be with Jeremy Mayfield and Bill Davis. Mayfield has been up front before, and Davis understands what it takes to be successful. Bill Davis Racing has been really good with Toyota so far so they could easily be the to watch as far as Toyota is concerned. The Craftsman Truck Series is a good place for a manufacturer to learn, just like Dodge did before they returned to the Cup Series. Toyota will roll into Daytona with eight Cup teams, and they've got their hands full. This engine hasn't been proven for 500 miles under competition conditions, and the Camry is a brand-new car. It's going to have to be baptized under fire, but Bill Davis Racing as well as Dale Jarrett, driving for Michael Waltrip, should be strong in Daytona. When you think about all of the changes in 2007, it's going to be crazy. We just finished 2006, crowning a champion last month in New York. All of the sudden, we're rolling into 2007, and we're talking about rule changes, new cars coming and engines coming and new people. There will be a lot of unpredictable situations that make me think that it will be a bizarre year. It might be frustrating for not only fans but a lot of teams. You've got to stay positive, but it's going to be a trying year because things like the Car of Tomorrow will make it difficult to predict who will be good and bad.
Baldwin helps BDR focus
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FOX race analyst Jeff Hammond led
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