Speed Mail: Atlanta COT test good for JGR

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Larry McReynolds

Larry McReynolds has more than 30 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, Daytona 500-winning crew chief and broadcaster. He earned 23 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief, including two victories in the prestigious Daytona 500, as well as a pair of non-points victories in the annual all-star race. Follow him on Twitter.


Wendy from Howey in the Hills: Being a Tony Stewart fan, how do you think Joe Gibbs Racing will come out of the gate at Daytona with Toyota? Do you think JGR will have to play a catch up game for the first 10 races before they have the Toyota engines figured out? Larry McReynolds: I don't, and one reason is the Toyota engine package is looking pretty good today. Joe Gibbs Racing is only going to make that effort stronger. Even though they haven't taken their eye off the ball this season with the No. 11, No. 20 and the No. 18, with two drivers in the Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup and a third car trying to Victory Lane before that deal ends with J.J. Yeley, they're working on next year's package. I don't think they're going to have parts and pieces to test the Toyota engine at Atlanta today and tomorrow, but they will be working on body configurations with the Car of Tomorrow. Whether you've got a Ford, Chevy, Dodge, Toyota or even a Mercedes engine, anything and everything you can learn about the Car of Tomorrow at a track where we haven't raced it will only be another feather in your cap. Plus, this Atlanta test will give crew chief Steve Addington and Kyle Busch a chance to get their feet wet together. It's also one of the many reasons that Tony Eury Jr. went over to Hendrick Motorsports following the Talladega race a few weeks ago. It's given him more seat time — so to speak — over there. I'm sure Tony and Dale Jr. are looking forward to getting more and more acclimated to the things that are going on at Hendrick.

What is a Camry vs. an Impala other than a headlight decal? It's a moot point. Whether or not their contract with Chevrolet prohibits them from running a Toyota at this test, they could easily take a Camry with Chevrolet headlights and taillights and a Chevrolet emblem on the nose, and no one would ever know the difference. Every team is working in the same box with the Car of Tomorrow

People, not rules, win races

Nathan from Forest Grove, Ore.: I have to openly wonder if and when NASCAR will balance the teams so that the Hendrick Motorsports juggernaut is at least slowed down. I'm so disappointed with the lack of competition that I really am debating if I will follow the sport in the future, and I really started watching when Davey Allison burst upon the scene. Larry McReynolds: NASCAR has done exactly what you're asking. The contradiction to your point is that NASCAR continues to make its box of rules tighter and tighter — whether it's engine rules, aero rules, chassis rules or testing rules. At Martinsville, Tony Raines ran well and had a pretty good day. Put Jimmie Johnson's pit crew, engine and setup to the No. 96 car, and Raines could have won. That's not true with the current car we raced at Atlanta because of its many variables. In our seven years together in broadcasting, Darrell Waltrip has taught me that it doesn't matter what you do. It doesn't matter what rules you make. It doesn't matter how tight you make the cars. If NASCAR furnished the cars to the teams, the cream is still going to rise to the top. I've been in the sport 27 years, and that hasn't changed. You can't penalize an organization simply because they're doing the right thing. If you take the top 20 teams — and possibly even deeper than that — there's little to no difference in the car bodies and power that these guys are making. So what's the difference? It's the people who make the difference between winning and losing.

Speed Mail Larry McReynolds

I know you're complaining about the competition, and I know Hendrick has won 16 of 33 races this year, but we've also had 16 different winners. Just look at how many different lead changes we've had recently. Go back to qualifying at Martinsville. The top 40 cars were separated by 4 1/2 tenths of a second. Itty bitty things are making the difference, and that's why the strength of Rick Hendrick's organization is people — from crew chiefs to engineers to drivers. Even though No. 48 crew chief Chad Knaus and No. 24 crew chief Steve Letarte are battling each other for a championship, they continue to share information and work together as one shop. I'd be willing to bet if you went to any other organization, you wouldn't have that dynamic. I think egos would kick in. Two Roush Fenway drivers almost came to fisticuffs on pit road after Martinsville, for Pete's sake. Is that kind of behavior going to take their organization to the front? Absolutely not. Another good Hendrick example is the No. 5 team. It's been known for several months that Kyle Busch will be leaving the Hendrick organization and moving to Joe Gibbs Racing as Dale Earnhardt Jr. replaces him at HMS. But that group is still digging. The 248 shop and the commitment show by the No. 5 team are two great examples of why Hendrick Motorsports is winning races. It has nothing to do with NASCAR's rules.

FOX race analyst Larry McReynolds has more than 25 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, crew chief and broadcaster. He and his fellow Crew Chief Club members take you behind the wall at

"How to Become a Winning Crew Chief" is on bookstore shelves, or you may order your own autographed copy from

Tagged: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch

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