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So how much difference has that new rear spoiler really made in NASCAR action? Jeff Burton says:

  The next NASCAR champion? Jeff Burton certainly has the polish and depth to make a good spokesman for the sport (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

  By Mike Mulhern

  Jeff Burton says the new 'old' flat-blade rear spoiler has indeed made a big difference in racing on the Sprint Cup tour, and he points to rival team owner Joe Gibbs – whose teams started the season slowly but have suddenly caught fire, winning five of the last seven races since the switch from the rear wing.
    "Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch didn't start the season all that hot, but you can see what they've been doing since the spoiler change, and I don't think that's coincidence," Burton says.
   The spoiler was changed for the March 28th Martinsville race, which Hamlin won in a dramatic late-race charge. Hamlin followed that with a win at Texas and Darlington, and teammate Busch has now added wins at Richmond and Dover.
    Richard Childress, Burton's car owner, agrees, saying he is having to rebuild his entire fleet of Cup cars to adjust to the new spoiler. "I have a  building full of cars...and we're having to replace every car. The difference between the wing and the spoiler, we're having to freplace those cars and build all new cars, a little at a time. We started 'retro-ing' the cars, but now each new car we're trying to build better."
   Childress, who says he is still negotiating that new contract with Kevin Harvick for 2011, says he hopes "to have something to talk about later this week."
   Since this is Friday, and Childress has a press conference scheduled for Saturday, speculation is rampant that Childress and Harvick have already come to terms on a contract renewal.
   Last weekend at Dover, Del., Harvick himself was surprisingly sullen again when pressed about the negotiations, refusing to talk about any new contract.
   Childress here Friday declined to discuss Harvick's unusual attitude about the issue.
   Harvick himself said "I don't have anything new to report today."
   Childress: "We're working on several things...we're working on it."
   Childress did announce an interesting sponsorship twist: that one of his sponsors, General Mills, will put on grocery shelves sometime this summer a new Wheaties' box, with the late Dale Earnhardt's picture on the front. That will be part of a marketing campaign centered on the July Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis.

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  New contract signed? Richard Childress (L) has a press conference set for Saturday, and he could be ready to announce signing Kevin Harvick (R) to a new contract (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)



  Gone but not forgotten: The Man is on a new Wheaties box, coming to a grocery store near you this summer (Photo: Harold Hinson)

Burton and Childress were

Burton and Childress were rather vague. So Hamlin et al are better now - why? Is the spoiler accentuatuing their setups? Childress says he has to rebuild all his racecars - why can't the old cars work with the spoiler? Do they push more, are they looser? How about some specifics, guys?

I agree that we need to get

I agree that we need to get some more precise analysis of this: so i'm going to go talk with scott miller, RC's new competition director, and Jamie Allison, Ford's new racing boss, to see if we can figure something out.
Heck, I'm just getting awfully suspicious about a lot of this stuff -- Hendrick's guys do so well for so long, then Gibbs guys are off to the races, and sometime last summer it looks like the Ganassi guys found the trick too, whatever it is. I'm just old school enough to believe in robert yates' statement that in nascar racing you win with tricks....

You win in at least part with

You win in at least part with tricks, indeed; Yates is certainly right on that score - I remember the cambering Petree and Brewer found for radials; the stuff Hoosier helped find for Bodine in '94, the aero-raking that Warren Prout did for Richard's early-80s Pontiacs ("That thing is so raked it looks like a dirt car," Bobby Allison said of The King's '84 superspeedway Pontiac) and which Louis Duncan for the Elliotts and then RCR and Raymond Beadle turned into an art form in the late '80s, and the transmission tunnel work Duncan did for DEI that gave them their plate track edge (Mike Snow scooped everyone on that one back in February 2003). Of course the last ten to fifteen years it's been the teams with the big budgets and command of the technology totem pole who've been able to get all the tricks; it's why the sport needs Hoosier (noted above) and Firestone back, so more teams can get these "tricks" as well as more revenue for the sport.

The whole "we have to build new cars/rebuild all our cars" business has always puzzled me - how is it that in this technology arms race the sport can't figure out how to make these cars so a team doesn't need more than ten cars in a fleet, even with inevitable attrition such as we saw again in this All-Star bash? (Kudos to Logano for owning up for the wreck, BTW). I've never understood how the sport can't have the "tricks" and still stay within sensible economic and performance levels - the sport spent the majority of its history doing precisely that.

Thanks again for your hard work, Mike.

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Most likely the spoiler

Most likely the spoiler changed the balance on the car and JGR must have went all in from the get go and made all spoiler cars this season knowing they would switch eventually and just bolted on the wing for the start of the season instead of spending the money to test and perfect both versions of the new car.

Wow! Excellent point. I'd

Wow! Excellent point. I'd missed it completely. But that falls into what Lee White of Toyota http://bit.ly/a2f9C7 might have been saying between the lines about Michael's guys working with Joe's guys, and what we saw from Martin Saturday...and from what Richard Childress was saying the other day about trying to retrofit his cars with the new spoiler and then giving up that venture and opting to build all new cars instead.
Dude, put your name on this stuff, it's good!

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