Four Gears: Chris Buescher, crew chief swaps, road courses and ‘ringers’

Time to cycle through the transmission for this week’s edition of Four Gears.

This week, our staff takes a look at some of the hot topics in the world of NASCAR. We discuss Chris Buescher getting into the Chase, ponder if Hendrick Motorsports should make some crew chief swaps, move a road course into the Chase and wonder if the bygone days of the “road course ringers” are a good thing or a bad thing for NASCAR.

FIRST GEAR: Chris Buescher enters this weekend six points behind 30th in points. After his shocking win at Pocono, can the driver of the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford get into the top 30 and steal a spot in the 2016 Chase?

On the one hand, I want to lean towards no because their performance has been no better than a 27.8 average finish. On the other hand, given Chris Buescher’s relationship with Jack Roush, perhaps Roush Fenway Racing and the folks at Ford Performance might step in to ensure that he makes the Chase. I think, for this week, the jury is out. — Tucker White

Absolutely. Chris Buescher is the most underrated rookie in the Sprint Cup Series right now, and although he hasn’t had the results that Ryan Blaney or Chase Elliott has he’s made the most of his Front Row Motorsports equipment. He’s good on his equipment as well as with his equipment, and keep in mind he’s no slouch on road courses, having won at Mid-Ohio in 2014. — Joseph Shelton

If Roush is going to be providing more support to the team after that win, they should be in the top 30 by a comfortable margin. — Michael Finley

SECOND GEAR: Paul Menard has had a down year in general, but Richard Childress Racing changed his crew chief last week and Menard responded by being fast all weekend. Save for a third at Indianapolis due to a late charge by Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports has struggled ever since Sonoma. With Darian Grubb waiting in the wings at HMS, should Hendrick hit the panic button and make some crew chief changes or should any possible changes wait until the end of the year?

I think it worked at Richard Childress Racing because they’ve been up on performance this year. Hendrick Motorsports is just down right now. Regardless of whatever is plaguing HMS all of a sudden this season, I have my doubts that swapping crew chiefs mid-season will make that much of a difference. —  Tucker White

Maybe making the changes at year’s end would be the best, and it’ll have to be something more than Crew Chiefs. Maybe some key faculty changes as well. HMS also had a down year in 2000, winning only four races, but after making appropriate changes they took home the 2001 championship. Following what they did all those years ago could help. — Joseph Shelton

Yes, they should reunite Greg Ives with Chase Elliott and Alan Gustafson with Jeff Gordon, then replace Keith Rodden with Grubb for Kahne. It’s obvious the 5 team needs a shake-up, and Ives worked so well with Elliott in the XFINITY Series they would be better together. — Michael Finley

THIRD GEAR: Entering Watkins Glen weekend, the track president has projected a record crowd for a race that has arguably put on some of the best races of the past few years. Should NASCAR move this race into the Chase or is it better not to mess with perfection?

I’ve been pushing for a road course in the Chase for years. I know we only run it two times a year, but if Talladega can be in the Chase, which isn’t my way of saying it shouldn’t be in the Chase, there’s no reason we can’t have a road course in the Chase. — Tucker White

A thousand times yes. Road course racing defines the true spirit of NASCAR, and Watkins Glen never fails to put on an excellent show. It should be in the Chase as well. We try to determine the season champion by using the Chase; NASCAR should recognize that an over-saturation of cookie cutter racetracks isn’t an accurate way to determine a champion. Add a road course! — Joseph Shelton

It should be moved to between Bristol and Darlington so that the regular season ends on a strong note with four really good racetracks. — Michael Finley

FOURTH GEAR: With only one road course “ringer” in the field this week (Boris Said in the No. 32 Ford), it seems the days of road course specialists are at best numbered. Is this good or bad for the sport?

Perhaps I’m not the best to speak on this because I came into this sport long after the days when the series regulars started to out-perform the road course “ringers,” but I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing for NASCAR because I believe it truly speaks to the talent of the drivers in NASCAR. It shows they’re capable of more than just turning left for three hours. They can also drive the cars left and right on road courses with muscle and technique. These are traits of a true road course racer and it speaks volumes on just how great the drivers in this sport are. — Tucker White

I loved the days of road course ringers, especially Boris Said. But now that the days of road ringers are about gone, it is good for the sport. Those guys who make the field week in and week out, are the focus of the sport and the focus should be on them and their talent on the track, no matter if the track is a road course or a short track. — Joseph Shelton

It’s a bad thing because the ringers ensured there would be some different guys near the front rather than the same old, same old. It created a variety that wasn’t available at other tracks and made both road course races more special — Michael Finley

Please join us again next week and become a part of the conversation by sharing your thoughts in the comment section below.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

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