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How much parity is there in NASCAR this season? Consider this: Chevy vs Ford vs Dodge vs Toyota


  Ford's Matt Kenseth, sporting big smiles this season, and only a few points behind Jimmie Johnson in the Sprint Cup standings (Photo: Autostock)
  

   By Mike Mulhern
   mikemulhern.net

   FORT WORTH
   The top 12 men in the standings coming out of the Texas 500 each season generally wind up having a lock on making the championship playoffs.
   But whether or not that run continues, well, this looks like a rougher than usual season out there on the track, and some drivers, like Juan Pablo Montoya (mired 21st in points, because of crashes and engine problems marring generally strong performances), say that picking the 12 playoff teams this time around might be more difficult than usual.
   Take Montoya himself for example: "We're behind on points, but we've got a car capable of the win. Last year (when he rallied to make the playoffs) we needed to finish the races, because a good week was a 10th place, and a bad week was a 15th . Now a good week is a top-five."
    Still, it's better to be ahead than behind, and Jack Roush's men, though still winless, are in good shape, Roush says.
   Yes, Greg Biffle is looking for his first tour win since the fall of 2008, and yes, teammate Matt Kenseth is looking his first tour win since the spring of 2009. But, hey, they're two-three in the Sprint Cup standings, and it's only April, and Roush says the whole operation has begun turning things around.

    How much parity on NASCAR's Sprint Cup tour?
    These are the best finishes by each car maker in 2009

                                   Chevrolet  Dodge    Ford   Toyota
   Daytona                    1               23          3         5
   California                   1               6            7         5
   Las Vegas                 1               26          5         6
   Atlanta                      3               1            2         7
   Bristol                       1               3            4         9
   Martinsville                3               12          8         1
   Phoenix                    1               16          6         8

   Average finish            1.5           12.4      5.0       5.8

   Biffle comes into the Texas 500 off an unexpectedly poor run at Phoenix, so he's under the gun here.
   Roush men used to be dominators when the tour hit Texas. But Biffle concedes "We've slipped."
   Maybe this is the place to show that's changed: "I'm looking not for a good run; I'm looking to win," Biffle says. "We really want to win, and we've got this track and Darlington coming up -- some good tracks for us.
    "We got beat every week throughout the chase (last fall), but that has not been the case this season. They're still beating us a little bit. But we're a hell of a lot closer than we were in November. 
    "That's the way this sport is – it's so crazy that a team will go from dominating and winning to just being kind of mediocre.
    "We've got our aero a little better, we've got our cars a little lighter, we've got the geometry a little different. We've gotten better with front bump-stops.  We've changed the rear suspension.
    "We've gotten a little closer to those guys. But we still have a little bit to go to start winning races and competing with them every week. 
    "We missed last week and that was frustrating.  The only memory I have is the last time I was in the car it was a disaster.  We just didn't get the setup right, didn't get the right springs and shocks in the car. The car didn't have the right attitude on the track (for speed and cornering). And we struggled all night long. 
    "That was disappointing because that's one of my favorite tracks."
    Kenseth, who has been in strikingly good mood this spring, and currently sits second in the standings, just behind Jimmie Johnson, is also in the glare of the spotlight here, because this is one of his best tracks.
    Todd Parrott, his new crew chief, appears to be good medicine: "I tell him we're still in the honeymoon phase," Kenseth says. "He's been having a lot of fun."
    What Kenseth sees this season is that the team has actually been finishing better than it's been running: "With the exception of Martinsville's disappointment, where we worked our way to the top-five and finished 18th (after being punted in anger by Jeff Gordon), I think the guys have done really well. 
     "We've had one of the faster Fords...and we've been able to figure out how to bring that home. We've been close to the front, though maybe not one of the top two or three cars...although at Vegas we probably ran as good as anybody."
    NASCAR's new double-file restarts have made a striking difference in the end-game of a race....take Jimmie Johnson's charge from sixth at the end at Bristol, for example.
    But what in the world are these crew chiefs thinking? Even teams running 20th with just a few miles to go are stopping for new tires, rather than gamble on gaining track position. It's been almost bizarre to watch.
    Kenseth's take: "At Martinsville the tires didn't drop off a whole bunch, but with the track being concrete and the number of laps we had on the tires, it
was a little different.   At Phoenix the tires were dropping off a lot; I think we had a pretty long run with something like 50 laps on the tires -- so I wasn't surprised everybody came in and got at least two. 
     "But with all those cars on the lead lap, it's just turning into a little crapshoot. You don't know what's going to happen at the end of these things.
    "It seems like there's a caution with three or four to go every week, and they keep lining them up...so whoever makes the right call and can hang on to their track position and get a really good restart has a shot at it."
   And, hey, did former teammate Mark Martin really come to Kenseth and make a pitch that he jump to the Rick Hendrick camp? 
   "I don't even remember him saying that....that's probably why I didn't take him serious," Kenseth said.
    "I don't even know if they'd want me over there to start with.
    "And second, I've got a job and I'm pretty happy where I'm at, because Jack has always given me everything we needed to compete. He's never told me 'no' for anything."

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Parity in 2010

No one cares about parity anymore, and that is one of Nascars problems. It used to be that you were either a Chevy fan or a Ford fan, and lived or died by how your favorite did.

Now everybody knows that cars aren't special, just mechanical billboards. Made by the same guys, and it doesnt really matter who wins. Regardless the never ending marketeting continues.

The great surprise is how the car makers continue to support it, even at a reduced level.

One thing puts it in perspective. Chevy wins all the races, Ford sells cars for a profit.

it is curious -- the way this

it is curious -- the way this whole marketing program has evolved. Nothing wrong with being driver-driven, personalities and all that....but i agree there ought to be more.....but then Detroit acquiesced in this common template concept, which i think has been bad for the sport. And why do you think Chevy has been winning all the races? Better drivers, better cars, more spending out of Detroit?

The CoT is not the CoT.

The CoT is no longer the Cot, take a real close look at the hoods and front clips on the different makes of cars ,
why is it the Fords all have flat hoods and the chevies have a nice little raised up hump in the middle? The front nose clips are different too, why these small subtle differences. My theory is these differences afford some advantages in traffic. After all the first year CoT was introduces and the templates were the same Kenseth won. By the way, NASCAR attendace and media share have been on the rocks ever since. I will watch it again when the competition is fair and they loose the favortism. Did the head of nascar officiating once work for good ole tricky ricky?

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Chevy Favortism

Bookmark it, if anyother brand of car, Dodge, Toyota, Ford was dominating like CHEVY HAS FOR THE PAST DECADE, YOU WOULD SEE QUICK RULE CHANGES PERIOD!

Drivers know that Nascar will protect them and allow them to dominate with Chevy without penality!!!!!!

At Alanta this past race Nascar took the engines from the Dodge of Kurt Busch the winner, Matt Kenseth, skipped the dominate Chevys and went to Mike Mcdowells! Explain this??????

Jimmie Johnson's biggest competition is with other Chevy teams, would love to see him change brands of cars and lets see how good Chad and Jimmy are then!!!!!!!!

Mike you must remember us race fans are want to "see parity on raceday",thats what we are paying for, winning the Chase is a afterthought now!!!!!!!

The REAL brands are the Team Owners

Get serious, NASCAR is spec car racing, almost IROC. The real issue is the ability of a team owner to put together an organization that can utilize the technology available plus driver skill. So make a real chart of the teams, average finishing place, which really is the ONLY story in NASCAR.
Hendrick (plus Stewart Haas) (1.5); Roush (5.0); Gibbs (plus Waltrip)(5.8); and Richard Petty-whatever,(plus Penske) (12.4)

If anyone would actually visit the shops in Charlotte (taking an engineer with you so they can tell you what to look for) this isn't too difficult to figure out. As an engineer I will tell you there is that level of difference in the technical and organizational skills of the Hendrick company,...they are that good compared to everyone else. This has absolutely nothing to do with Chevy, Toyota, Dodge, Kia, Lotus, or any other car company, put any decals you want on the CoT NASCAR spec racer and the results will still be the same.
Grow up people, recognize NASCAR for what it has become.
Prof pi (Jeff Thompson)

Prof Jeff Thomson,Comment

I dont drink the koolaid that Hendrick is so much better than the rest!

Fact Chevy teams are allowed to run without rule changes more than the other brands!No matter

Ever noticed when its not Hendrick, it moves to RCR, Earnhardt-Ganassi, Stewart-Haas! What do they have in common, Chevy!!!!!!!!!

Facts = Point titles since 1990, Chevy or Gm aprox 70%; same for Daytona 500 wins, including duel 150s, Bud Shoot out with "other Chevy teams' than Hendrick!Look at Talladega results for the last 15 years!

Remember= Bill Elliot after all he had to endure in the 1980s, how about the 2000 Daytona 500 the last Daytona another brand dominated and all the rule changes TO ensure it dont happen again and it hasnt!

Just let another brand of car, Ford, Dodge, Toytota even come close to winning like Hendricks Chevys and the announcers on TV will change it from a team, to a brand of car race!!!!!As long as the status quo Chevy wins it because of better teams! I DONT BUY IT!

I refuse to believe that Chevy or Gm influence does not make a difference in Nascar!

Lets see, after JEFF Gordon and Dale Sr dominated point titles in the 90s, Chevy gets a new SB2 engine. Then after total domination in the decade of the 2000s they get a new RO7 IN 2007!!!!!!! Getting more powerful engines after total domination is not a example of favoritism??????

I dont need to be a engineer with a PhD; a 12th-grade education can decipher this favoritism! You are only allowed to dominate with a "bowtie' on the hood!!!!!!

Let Chad and Jimmy Johnson go to any other brand of car and lets see how great they are!!!!!!

Don't Drink The "Hendrick Better" Koolaid

Hendrick was a mediocre and worse team owner for the first eleven seasons he raced in NASCAR - he had two spectacular seasons (1986 and 1989) and a good season (1994), while the others were poor - 1984 produced just three wins, 1985 zero, 1987 just three, 1988 four, 1990-3 a grand total of six. His car-dealership empire and his business practices landed him ever-escalating revenue streams and help from Chevrolet; it helped cost Junior Johnson his Chevy backing by the end of the 1980s.

The biggest favor NASCAR did for Hendrick was limiting testing; the limit started in 1990 but had a four-month loophole allowing unlimited testing; that was closed in 1994 but the Hoosier Tire war that year was a wildcard that boosted the number of winning drivers and teams. When Hoosier left, the testing limit favored Hendrick and his multicar empire now that single-car teams were starved of development time and effort.

Hendrick thus priced the sport higher and higher - to keep up others had to add cars, and suddenly an increasingly-ugly cycle of uncreative destruction began gutting the sport of car owners, and in the 1990s it led to the beginning of team alliances - Pontiacs, neglected by GM after it took over the individual programs in 1992 via the Motorsports Technology Group, began working together in 1994 and it helped JGR speed up the development of its Pontiacs after GM switched them over in 1997. Dodge applied the same approach to the Truck program in 1996 when Richard Petty began fielding Dodges and others (Bobby Hamilton, David Hodson, the Keselowskis) joined the series in 1995-6 (they called it One Team, but it disintegrated when Ganassi horned himself into the program in 2000-1, Lou Patane had his influence taken away by Stuttgart in 2001, and finally Penske signed himself onto the program in 2003).

Other Chevy teams began this effort as well - RCR, Andy Petree, and DEI formed an alliance to keep up with Hendrick (and because Chevy was spending more on Hendrick at their expense) that helped in the 1998-2002 period but had collapsed by 2003.

Hendrick isn't that much smarter or better than everyone else. He never has been.

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