Now, sharing notes among teammates is one of the reasons for the multicar setups.
“It is different today because the cars are almost identical and we share every single thing that goes on from the second they start getting built until the race starts and through the race and everything,” said Kenseth, a two-time Daytona 500 winner and 2003 series champion.
“I think if you look at the last couple years, all our cars run fairly close on the race track. Usually, typically, you don’t have a guy win and another guy run 20th and really miss it. It seems like we are all closer to each other than I think you were in years past.
And when that’s not the case, the driver lagging behind works harder to catch up.
“Certainly I remember 2008 when Carl (Edwards) won those nine races and we were struggling a little bit,” said Kenseth, who won twice that year. “That is always hard on a guy to wonder why you are getting beat by your teammate when you are supposed to have the same stuff. That drives you to try to do better or try to be the best in your group. You always want to try that.”
CARS VS DRIVERS: Jeff Gordon thinks technology has helped to minimize the impact of driving ability, especially on 1.5-mile tracks like Kansas and Texas.
“The cars have become so important,” the four-time series champion and 85-time race winner said. “The amount of work that the team puts into that car, and the side force and the downforce, that’s where the speed is coming. We’ve got so many good drivers out here now and such good teams and equipment. … I think some of the little things are coming down to that.”
But, he was quick to add, driving skill clearly makes a difference, too.
Stewart won half of the 10 Chase races last season after not winning at all in the first 26, and went on to claim his third Sprint Cup championship. He’s won twice more this season, and at one point had won seven of 15 races.
“You had two great drivers going for the championship but you had one, to me, that just stood out that took that car to another level,” Gordon said. “And I know those cars were good, but I think he took them to another level because of his talent. So, it still happens.”
Gordon once dominated like that at NASCAR’s highest level, winning his four titles in a seven-year span, but has struggled recently and left Richmond with a 20-race winless streak.
It didn’t happen. A problem sent him to the pits under a green flag early in the race, and he was two laps down when he returned. He never got in contention, finishing 23rd.
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