NASCAR

No turning back on COT, new fuel cell

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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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Follow the bouncing COT?

Shawn from Kent, Wash.: Do you think the Car of Tomorrow will end up like the new basketball in the NBA? Could NASCAR change back to the old car like the NBA changed back to the old ball?

Jeff Hammond: NASCAR has no choice but to be 100 percent behind the COT because they've got too much invested in research and development. They have no choice but to say it's the best thing since sliced bread. I'm cautiously optimistic that it's going to be OK because the competitors know how to adjust, adapt and work on challenges like this one to make the cars good for themselves. And race fans will benefit from that hard work, too. I just hope it pays off. I'm not looking forward to calling races and listening to criticism from fans if the teams have trouble adjusting to the new cars.

Car of Tomorrow tests
PHOTOS: Talladega

PHOTOS: Michigan

PHOTOS: Lowe's

PHOTOS: Bristol

PHOTOS: Daytona

PHOTOS: Atlanta

Fueling change

June from Tyler, Texas: Jeff, what's up with NASCAR changing the fuel cell from 22 gallons to 17 1/2? I thought that the drivers and crews didn't like it when they made it smaller because it took away from the "strategy" of racing with pitting under green. I love how crew chiefs use different strategies — long-run setups vs. someone who takes right off. It leaves the fans "anticipating" who will prevail. Jeff Hammond: This is the first time any of us has seen an 18-gallon fuel cell. I started out with 25-gallon fuel cells and then went down to 22 gallons. With the exception of Daytona and Talladega recently, we've been at 22. I've had very limited experience with 13 1/2-gallon cells. NASCAR has to find a happy medium. They're finally realizing that the 13-gallon cell will not break up big packs like they hoped at restrictor-plate races. Teams don't like what the small cell does at places like Charlotte. But I don't think NASCAR is totally happy with letting some guys have long runs on great setups without giving other teams an opportunity to work on their cars and/or put a little bit more showmanship into a race. Some of the best things that happen in a race take place because of events on pit road, whether it's a dramatic pit stop itself or the strategy playing out afterward. There should be some middle ground that promotes good racing at Daytona and Talladega and puts racing back into Charlotte, where we don't need to be running a 13-gallon cell. I'm an eager viewer just like you to a certain degree. I'm really going to be curious to see how strategy plays out with the new fuel cell. It's going to make races as short as February's Duel 150 qualifiers at Daytona and as long as May's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte interesting, and I think it's going to be a good step.

Speed Mail Jeff Hammond

All of the teams have to throw away all of their fuel cells and start over again with a new package because they've got a new check valve and a new cell, but it should also be safer for the driver. If NASCAR stays in this direction for years to come, it'll be good because the cells will be made of a better material than what we've run in the past. If drivers back into walls, the likelihood of rupturing one of these cells is less than with the current cell. A lot of people are still questioning why they didn't just leave the cell like it was, but NASCAR is trying to implement a bunch of new safety initiatives with the Car of Tomorrow and a lot of other innovations. It will take just a little bit of getting used to, but it will be positive for both the competitor and the race fan.


FOX race analyst Jeff Hammond led Darrell Waltrip to two of DW's three Winston Cup championships as his crew chief. They also teamed to win the 1989 Daytona 500.

For autographed copies of Jeff Hammond's book "Real Men Work in the Pits" plus magnets, hats and more, check out www.dwstore.com.

For photos and appearances, visit Jeff's web site www.jeffhammond.com.

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