NASCAR

Dover a missed opportunity for many

How did Tony Stewart get that Dover win? Watch and see
How did Tony Stewart get that Dover win? Watch and see
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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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Although Kyle Busch did win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Friday, I think what you saw in his postrace interview Sunday after the Sprint Cup race at Dover was a culmination of having a winning race car on Saturday and a winning race car on Sunday, but neither went to Victory Lane.

Now, Saturday in the Nationwide race, he was instrumental in making some of the pit decisions that ultimately led to him not being able to take home that trophy. So not winning again Sunday caused, well, I don’t want to call it an outburst, but you're very clear in understanding and feeling his frustration.

We all know how Kyle feels about not winning. To him, second sucks.

That’s what you want in your driver. That said, Kyle is smart enough and mature enough now to take a step back and realize he had a pretty awesome weekend in Dover. He won the truck race, finished fifth in the Nationwide race and fourth in the Cup race. I don’t know about you, but that’s a pretty good weekend, in my book.

On Sunday, we saw an ever-changing racetrack because of the weather. The reality is the obvious winner of the race didn’t win the race. There’s roughly five drivers who felt they should have gone to Victory Lane but didn’t. Sunday night and Monday morning, they are scratching their heads asking, “How did Tony Stewart do it?”

I know one thing for certain: if I am Joe Gibbs Racing, I am very worried about this continuing engine situation. This has got to get fixed — and in a hurry.

Blown motors will absolutely crush a championship-caliber team. Matt Kenseth already has three wins in his JGR Toyota. The reality is, he was so bad-fast that if not for blown engines, he could have also won the Daytona 500 and last Sunday at Dover.

Denny Hamlin and especially Kyle Busch have suffered the same issues, even going back to last year. I mean, realistically, it was those motor issues that kept Kyle from making the 2012 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Now these issues have crossed over to Michael Waltrip Racing and the No. 56 car, as they also blew up at Dover last Sunday. That’s a team that is having a very solid year, only to take two steps backward Sunday because their engine let go. Martin Truex Jr., the driver of the No. 56, told me he had a car Sunday that could have won that race. Sadly, he didn’t get the opportunity.

The competition in NASCAR Sprint Cup racing is fierce today. Winning races is tough. You have to take advantage of the opportunity when they come your way and close the deal. Letting one slip through your fingers, like what happened to about five drivers Sunday, really hurts.

There’s just no guarantee that the same opportunities will be there the following week for you. When a win is within your grasp, you have to seize the moment and close the deal. As Stewart has experienced, your whole season can take a dramatic positive turn when you get that first win.

Tagged: Kyle Busch

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