NASCAR

Loudon requires disciplined approach

New Hampshire Motor Speedway is ready to host the first of its two annual Sprint Cup races.
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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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We have already seen this season that this new Generation-6 car, with its cambered rear-end housing, is a little bit more drivable than cars in the past. It’s because of that we are seeing the drivers drive them harder. And that’s why on a flat track like New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a guy that can be disciplined, not overdrive the corner and really concentrate on running from the center of the corner out, is the most successful.

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That’s going to be the hardest thing this weekend for the crew chiefs — to convince their drivers to not overdrive the corners. This new car feels so good and the drivers think they can just push it, push it and push it. While that may work well on the high-banked tracks, it is just the opposite for a flat track like at Loudon, N.H.

The critical point is being smooth entering the corner and then powering off the corner down the straightaways. If a crew chief can fine-tune the car to that aspect and get the driver to do the same, you are going to see that car shine Sunday.

Because passing is at such a premium on a flat track, this weekend you will see that where a driver qualifies, along with track position during the race, will play really major roles in whether you have a successful weekend.

Think of Loudon as a big Martinsville Speedway track. If you can get yourself in the top 10, you really can make it very challenging for the guys behind you. Loudon is just not a very easy place to pass. You have to have an extremely good race car to be able to make quality passes.

Look for the teams to work on qualifying packages, maybe more so than at some of the other tracks we go to. Being able to beat cars off pit road because of where your pit box is will be just as important as how you are running on-track Sunday.

I think the cat who won last Saturday night, Jimmie Johnson and his crew chief, Chad Knaus, are masters of that.

They seem to be the best of unloading and staying focused on the task at hand with the first goal being to try and win the pole. Then the second goal is to lead the most laps. The third and final goal is obviously to win the race. That’s what Chad Knaus calls a “max points” weekend. Right now they are the class of the field, so others might want to try and mirror what they do this weekend.

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