It’s time to cycle through the transmission for another edition of Four Gears.
This week, our resident NASCAR journalists were asked if other drivers should be as up front as Kevin Harvick was about his pit crew to affect change. They also considered whether John Hunter Nemechek deserves all the flak he’s gotten for his last lap move at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park and if he could’ve handled his last turn differently. Another topic up for discussion was what programs like the old Winston Million and the No Bull 5 NASCAR could do to put emphasis on the crown jewel events and the odds of another Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota title victory at Homestead.
FIRST GEAR: Kevin Harvick was blunt in his criticism of his pit crew at Darlington. Now there’s going to be a big change in the pit crew of the No. 4. In order to affect proper change, should more drivers be as up front and critical as Harvick was?
Yes. Too much “toeing the line” in the sport, and to speak up and affect change on any level in NASCAR is a must. — Joseph Shelton
It all depends on the situation. When it happens once, there’s no need to make a stink about it. After a couple of times, maybe it’s time to talk to the team in private. When it’s a constant thing, it needs to be addressed in public. Harvick has thrown away at least two wins this year because of terrible pit stops and didn’t get a major change until he made it public. — Michael Finley
I would say yes, but I don’t think anyone could match Kevin Harvick’s bluntness from this past week. Sitting in the media center at Darlington Raceway, I had a front-row seat for the show or one question show. When he was asked if he would considering swapping pit crews with another one of his teammates, he got up and left.
But in all seriousness, sometimes you need to chastise someone to get results. If this doesn’t serve as a wake-up call to his crew, then they need to be replaced. — Tucker White
SECOND GEAR: John Hunter Nemechek was subjected to a ton of hate on social media following his MoSport win. Was it justified? Could he really help what happened in that final corner?
Nemechek drove in over his head a bit, but he aggressively went for a win and got it. That’s what a driver is supposed to do, and considering NEMCO doesn’t have the financial cushion of JR Motorsports he’s fighting to keep the team competitive.
As for the hate he was subjected to, it was ridiculous. It was a double-standard among peers and fans for sure. — Joseph Shelton
When you are a young, hungry driver, you do anything to win. Nemechek didn’t just straight up dump Custer like he could have. And unlike a lot of kids coming up today, Nemechek knew when and where to be aggressive like that. It’s smarter when it’s for the win and dumber when it’s for 11th. — Michael Finley
I’m not going to be hypocritical and say the hate wasn’t justified. I also took John Hunter Nemechek to task for his move on the final lap.
But being just two years older than him, I also understand that he’s young and he’s going to make mistakes. I believe it was a heat of the moment decision that he’ll learn from and not be as over the line going for the win again. — Tucker White
THIRD GEAR: With Martin Truex Jr.’s win Sunday, he now has two wins in 2016, both in two of the sport’s crown jewel events. What could NASCAR do to resurrect the Winston Million/No Bull 5 programs of the ’90s and 2000s?
It’d be neat to have a similar program make its return, especially something like the No Bull 5, where a fan also won a cool million. Let’s see what the next series title sponsor has in mind. — Joseph Shelton
A better title sponsor next season could be awesome. The No Bull was dumb to me (Although I did like the fan component of it) but the Winston Million was amazing. Just make the tracks Daytona, Charlotte, Indy, and Darlington and you’ve made important races even more so. — Michael Finley
I’ve always wanted NASCAR to reboot the Winston Million and put more emphasis on the crown jewel races. Other than the Daytona 500, the other three crown jewel events are usually just another race.
Other than a name change, just bring back the Winston Million as it was with the Daytona 500, the Coca-Cola 600, the Brickyard 400 (although it’s hard to consider it a crown jewel event when only 30-50,000 people are in attendance at a track that sits over 200,000) and the Bojangles’ Southern 500. — Tucker White
FOURTH GEAR: What are the odds of another JGR Toyota winning the championship at Homestead?
92 percent. Stewart-Haas Racing has been in the picture, and Team Penske is still right on JGR’s bumper, but as successful as Toyota has been this year I could see a JGR championship again at Homestead. — Joseph Shelton
50/50. Yeah, they have run great all season. But Brad Keselowski has been strong, Joey Logano has been tough. After Dover last season, you cannot count out Kevin Harvick at any time. And all three are higher in driver points right now than any one Gibbs driver. — Michael Finley
According to Las Vegas, Kyle Busch is 5/1, Carl Edwards is 10/1, Denny Hamlin is 10/1 and Matt Kenseth is 12/1 (odds are from Vegas Insider).
What odds I’d give JGR to win? I’d say they’re pretty good. But I’m not going to rule out Team Penske or Stewart-Haas Racing. — Tucker White