NASCAR

Robby Gordon has winning road rhythm

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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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Three guys have to be salivating when they think about going back to Watkins Glen: Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

When you look at their track record at The Glen, they're saying it doesn't matter how many road-course specialists are there this weekend. Bring on Boris Said, Scott Pruett and Ron Fellows. The Nextel Cup regulars feel like they can handle the ringers, and it's not like they're just running for second place.

Who to Watch

  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. The No. 8 team needs another solid run and a fourth consecutive top-10 finish at Watkins Glen to get a little more of a gap between his spot in 10th and Kasey Kahne in 11th in the standings.
  • Tony Stewart: The No. 20 team loves going back to the Glen. They've owned that place recently, winning three of the last four races.
  • Jeff Gordon: Like Stewart, Gordon has run well on this road course. He's got four wins at Watkins Glen, and he's got to be thinking that he couldn't be going to a better place right now. He needs to rebound. The Brickyard is over so the No. 24 team has to take care of what's in front of them.
  • Robby Gordon: I talked to Gordon on Monday morning, and he's looking forward to the annual trip to Upstate New York. He feels like his team has gotten better, and he's got a shot to make some noise this weekend.
  • What to Watch

  • Staying on course: You can play strategy at Watkins Glen, but you've got to put a solid race car under the driver. And the driver has to understand that he's got to keep it on track. The Glen may not be as notorious as Infineon Raceway for drivers running off track, but it is a little faster than Sonoma. It will be easier to tear up things this weekend than it was at Infineon in June. If you don't know how to get into Turn 1 or through the Bus Stop on the backside of the course, you can tear up the transmission or wheelhop and break your car in a heartbeat. Everybody who approaches this course with any other kind of strategy than just being precise and smart is going to fool themselves. If drivers try too hard, it'll come back to haunt them. They need to be focused on winning and finishing up front, but they must avoid tricking themselves into crashing, running out of gas and losing positions instead of gaining them.
  • Speed Mail Jeff
  • Racing rhythm: Road racing is rhythm and getting a feel for the course. That's why a lot of drivers will do double duty this weekend. Robby Gordon is one of them. He's only run one Busch race this year, but he's taking his Busch car to The Glen. He wants to get an idea of what to expect on Sunday. A year ago, Robby Gordon should have won the Busch race, but he finished second to Ryan Newman, who will defend his title on Saturday. Gordon ran well in the Cup race, but Tony Stewart outclassed him for another runner-up finish. If these Buschwhackers can get the feel for the course and find a groove on Saturday, it will transfer right into Sunday, which will be a lot more fun. It's worth it to put in the extra effort on Saturday.

  • 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.

    Tagged: Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart

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