The only drawback is only one driver on a multi-car race team can be a champion.
The Chase for the Championship definitely is a team sport this year. All 12 drivers in the playoffs are part of a multi-car operation – many having teammates in the race for the championship.
“I think it has its advantages and disadvantages,” Jeff Gordon said. “We seem to manage that pretty well at Hendrick Motorsports on how we work together and how we try to benefit from the information sharing from highly competitive cars and teams that we have at Hendrick Motorsports, but know that when the green flag drops it’s pretty much each team for themselves.”
Gordon can benefit from having Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the playoffs. It also means he has to beat both to win his fifth Sprint Cup Series title.
Kevin Harvick has three teammates at Richard Childress Racing, but none of them qualified for the playoffs. That’s why some members of Clint Bowyer’s pit crew were transferred to Harvick’s team Tuesday.
Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman are teammates. So are Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski. Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards are teammates at Roush Fenway Racing, with David Ragan and Greg Biffle helping from the sidelines. And Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin can work together at Joe Gibbs Racing while getting help from Joey Logano.
TALLADEGA CHANGES: NASCAR has made two rule changes for October’s race at Talladega Superspeedway that should limit the length of time two cars can draft together.
The restrictor plates used in the Oct. 23 race will be larger. The change should lead to an increase of horsepower that could make the cars 2- to 3-mph faster.
NASCAR also ordered an adjustment on a pressure relief valve that should lower the maximum water temperature in engines. A threat of overheating could prevent cars from staying hooked together for too long.
FEW BELIEVE STEWART: To hear Stewart, his race team isn’t good enough yet to win the Chase. But after he opened the playoffs Monday with a victory at Chicagoland Speedway, nobody is buying his pessimism.
“Counting Tony Stewart out, that’s pretty funny that he counts himself out,” Harvick said.
Even in victory, Stewart said he’s feeling better about his chances, although he still doesn’t put himself in the group of other drivers who should be considered real contenders.
“We’ve still got nine hard weeks to go,” Stewart said. “And we have some tracks ahead that have been a struggle for us this year.”
Crew chief Darian Grubb has talked with his driver about being more positive, but the gloomy outlook seems to be working.
“We’ve had conversations to where I have to do things to keep him pumped up let him know what we’re doing to get better,” Grubb said. “That’s the biggest thing is making sure he knows what we’re working on to try to get better.”