HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 18:  Crew chief Chad Knaus looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 18, 2016 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Tire wear and pit strategy could determine race, championship

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Crew chief Todd Gordon feels strategy cost Joey Logano a win two weeks ago at Texas Motor Speedway. Gordon hopes to avoid the same issue in today’s championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway (2:30 p.m., NBC).

Tire wear and short-pitting — pitting before a fuel run ends — could determine who wins today’s race and the championship. Chad Knaus, crew chief for Jimmie Johnson, says lap times will fall by two seconds after only about 20 laps (a fuel run is about 55 laps).

“I think it’s awesome because I think that definitely provides opportunity for strategy, and definitely activity on pit road,’’ Knaus said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how it all plays out.’’

Teams are using the same tire this weekend that was run at both Texas races and at Chicagoland Speedway this season. The Texas race saw teams pit early because it was an advantage to get new tires ahead of the rest of the field.

“I feel like we got beat by it,’’ Gordon said of short pitting in the Texas race for Logano. “Martin Truex ran us down a little bit there in the middle of the race and actually got to our inside and pitted, and that short pit sequence only being a lap … got us from the lead to third and took us a while to recover from it. It’ll definitely play on this tire.’’

Dave Rogers, crew chief for Carl Edwards, admits short pitting will be “tempting” today.

“If you’re the leader and you have a five-second lead, you’re probably going to stay out and let a few people hit pit road first just to make sure everyone gets onto pit road cleanly,’’ Rogers said. “Once they do, then you’ll come down pit road.

On the other hand, if you’re running sixth and you’ve got to make up lap time, you’re probably going to gamble and short pit as much as you can. Everyone is going to be playing the strategy.  All these crew chiefs know the game.’’

Adam Stevens, crew chief for Kyle Busch, admits that short pitting “bit us’’ last weekend at Phoenix.

“We tried to come a little bit early and two cars got together coming onto pit road and we had to take the wave around as we were a lap down during that pit cycle,’’ he said. “The outcome of the race can change in a hurry and sometimes that risk is rewarded and sometimes it’s not.’’

In need of a wedding singer? Call Steven Tyler

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 05:  Singer Steven Tyler performs during his "Out on a Limb" tour at the Dolby Theatre on July 5, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for ABA)
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for ABA
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Steven Tyler has performed with Aerosmith in a video for ESPN back when it broadcast NASCAR races. Tyler also has performed before the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Now, he’s played Kurt Busch‘s wedding.

What more is left for the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer?

Tyler performed at a celebration for the marriage of Kurt and Ashley Busch earlier this month. Kurt Busch posted a photo of the evening.

That NASCAR-themed video Tyler did with Aerosmith for the 2007 season? Here it is:

Before he performed at Bristol in Aug. 2015, Tyler met Richard Petty:

Chip Ganassi Racing adds competition director

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 27:  Team owner Chip Ganassi looks on as drivers perpare on Carb Day ahead of the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on May 27, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
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Chip Ganassi Racing has hired Mark McArdle to be its competition director, a new position for the organization.

McArlde will oversee the team’s two Cup teams — Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray — and its Xfinity operation, which features Brennan Poole, Tyler Reddick, Justin Marks and Larson.

McArdle had been with Roush Fenway Racing. He joined the team in Nov. 2014 to oversee engineering for its Cup and Xfinity programs. He previously had been director of racing operations at Richard Childress Racing, joining that organization in April 2013. He spent four years before that at Furniture Row Racing, overseeing the team’s competition department.

At Ganassi, McArdle will report to Max Jones, team manager.

Last year marked the first time in the team’s history that it had two cars make the Cup playoffs. Both Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray, though, failed to advance from the first round. Larson, who had one win, finished ninth in the points. McMurray, who was winless, placed 13th.

“I think everybody in the building feels like we took a good step forward last year,’’ said Steve Lauletta, president of Chip Ganassi Racing. “We’re not happy with the step we took. We have more to do. So, being able to bring more of the leadership into the building that can focus on how we get there, the process that we need, we continue to bring on more people.

“I think Max feels like another person can help us make sure that everybody is focused on the right thing and we’re not wasting time and resources. Mark brings a tremendous amount of expertise to continue that growth that we’ve seen.’’

JR Motorsports to keep championship-contending tandem together

SPARTA, KY - JULY 07:  Elliott Sadler, driver of the #1 OneMain Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Alsco 300 at Kentucky Speedway on July 7, 2016 in Sparta, Kentucky.  (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images
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JR Motorsports confirmed Tuesday that crew chief Kevin Meendering will remain with Elliott Sadler this season.

Meendering and Sadler recorded three Xfinity wins last year in their first season together. Meendering also helped Sadler score a career-best 29 top-10 results and finish runner-up for the series title to Daniel Suarez.

The announcement was included in a team release about Hunt Brothers Pizza serving as the primary sponsor for Sadler’s car in two races in each of the next two seasons.

Wood Brothers give a tour of new race shop

LOUDON, NH - JULY 15:  Ryan Blaney, driver of the #21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series New Hampshire 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 16, 2016 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images
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The Wood Brothers begin this season not only with a charter but with a new home.

The team had shared a building with JTG Daugherty in Harrisburg, North Carolina, but moved after last season to a shop in Mooresville, North Carolina. The move puts the Wood Brothers closer to Team Penske. The two organizations are aligned.

The Wood Brothers will again have Ryan Blaney as driver. The team also has a charter, leasing it from Go Fas Racing. That means the Wood Brothers team is guaranteed a starting spot in every Cup race this year, unlike last year when they did not have a charter.