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Gas 'n' Go: Drivers, not NASCAR, should settle on-track disputes

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Jeff Hammond

Jeff Hammond is a former NASCAR crew chief who led Darrell Waltrip to two of his three Sprint Cup championships. The duo also teamed up to win the 1989 Daytona 500. Prior to that, Hammond was the jackman for Cale Yarborough for all three of his Cup championships. He has 43 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief. Follow him on Twitter.

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Larry from Washington, Ind.: Should NASCAR penalize Kurt Busch for aggressive driving? Within three weeks, he has spun out three different drivers. It seems to me he has a serious problem on the track, and NASCAR should help take care of it.

Jeff Hammond: NASCAR won't have to do anything. Kurt Busch will take care of it himself because he's not making any friends right now. NASCAR understands that a phone call might be a good idea, but at the same time, the drivers need to handle this situation themselves. NASCAR shouldn't aggressively intervene on everything. For example, I still don't agree with the fine that NASCAR assessed Jeff Gordon for shoving Matt Kenseth at Bristol. The disagreement was handled in NASCAR's trailer between the two drivers, and that should have been it. I would just as soon not see NASCAR get involved and let Biffle and Busch handle it. Cindy from Jackson, Tenn.: Will NASCAR do anything to Greg Biffle's girlfriend for going over to Kurt Busch's pit box and talking to Kurt's fiancee? Jeff Hammond: That's better left for NASCAR to make a phone call and express that they don't want team or family members going to other competitors' pit areas. You're flirting with disaster when you enter somebody else's pit, and arguments can always escalate. But like the NASCAR on FOX crew, I would dare say that NASCAR itself was caught by surprise when they saw Biffle's girlfriend enter Busch's pit area.

Veteran moves

Ed from Burkesville, Ky.: What gives with Denny Hamlin? The whole world knows Mark Martin doesn't wreck people just for fun. That young man has a lot going for him, BUT he needs to earn respect and keep his mouth shut.

Jeff Hammond: Nobody has established ground rules like David Pearson, Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough did when Darrell Waltrip got into the sport. They said, "Hey boy, you don't drive like that around here." That's how you get the rookies' respect. You get in front of them, and you tell them what needs to be done There's an issue here that nobody really wants to address. Why? I don't know. It's like the veteran drivers are saying, "It's not my place to say anything." Well, it's none of your business until somebody makes a mistake. Then, all of the sudden, the young racers are driving wild. Listen to Tony Stewart's comments at the end of the Texas race. He said Carl Edwards was "driving over his head." Edwards is a great personality, and if you listened to Chris Myers' "10 Laps with Mark Martin," the veteran said Edwards was the most aggressive driver in the sport. To me, Edwards is not an aggressive driver, but the defending Nextel Cup champion and a respected veteran basically said, "Hello Carl! Are you doing something different than you did a year ago? Or are you doing something that needs to be reviewed?" Edwards is a smart guy, and he is very concerned about how he's perceived. He's also open-minded enough to hear what people have to say, especially if it's in a negative context. The only thing that Edwards wants out of this career is to be remembered as a solid racecar driver who respected his fellow competitors. Veterans need to spend more time talking to these guys to make them better racecar drivers. It would save their teams and themselves some pain and agony with torn-up racecars, sore bodies and angry team members. More veterans need to step up to the plate and take some of these kids — the future of this sport — under their wing. Racing is a team sport. Drivers are their own governing body, and they should take care of themselves. Crew chiefs try their best to help drivers — whether they're young or old — to make the right decisions. But, a lot of times, a driver doesn't respect what a crew chief says as much as he respects when a Mark Martin puts his arm around him and tries to give some advice. He's the most respected driver in the sport today, and he tries to keep himself out of harm's way whenever possible. He is recognized as one of the best give-and-take drivers out there. If Martin put his arm around me, I would turn on a tape recorder. I would take shorthand. I would get somebody to help me take notes so I would not have an issue if I could avoid it. If Darrell Waltrip gave me advice, I would follow it. He fought being disrespected. I would listen to Richard Petty. Getting advice doesn't mean that a driver isn't good enough. He should care about the sport and his reputation in it. He should use his talent to not only further his career but protect the guys around him from doing something stupid.

Something against Gordon?

George from Arcadia, Calif.: Every time Robby Gordon has had a good run recently, it seems NASCAR tries to find something to prevent him from having a good finish. Even Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kevin Harvick commented on the radio at Texas about the connection between the last caution and Gordon just pitting. In the last month, five pit road penalties and three debris cautions after Gordon short-pits sounds fishy. What do you think? Jeff Hammond: If Robby Gordon could ever get the monkey off of his back, he would be a force to reckon with. It's so gratifying to see him fight, push and pull to get this team up and going. He's got a very competitive racecar this year. Unfortunately his results aren't demonstrating that effort.
Speed Mail Jeff
Gordon's season has been just like the No. 31 team's year. Before the Texas race, I saw Danny Lawrence from Richard Childress Racing, and we talked about what a phenomenal season they could be having if Jeff Burton could just get some luck. It's so sad when you can't get a break. On Sunday, Burton did get a break, and he put together a solid finish. It was good to see Kevin Harvick have a solid run, too. I was disappointed for Clint Bowyer's last-lap crash that prevented RCR from having three cars in the top 10. Like Burton, Gordon just needs a little luck. The No. 7 team is doing everything right. He's just not catching any breaks. If the caution had come out a lap later, it would have put him right where he wanted to be. It's just a sad state of affairs. I hope he doesn't get frustrated and start doing anything that will produce negative results. He's driving smart, giving and taking like he should, and his guys are doing a solid job this year. He just needs a little luck now.


FOX race analyst Jeff Hammond led Darrell Waltrip to two of DW's three Winston Cup championships as his crew chief. They also teamed to win the 1989 Daytona 500.

For autographed copies of Jeff Hammond's new book "Real Men Work in the Pits" plus magnets, hats and more, check out www.dwstore.com.

For photos and appearances, visit Jeff's web site www.jeffhammond.com.

Tagged: Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart

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