NASCAR

Gas 'n' Go: Gordon to Toyota's Team Red Bull?

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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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Matthew from New Milford, Conn.: Jeff, I noticed that a new team called Red Bull Racing will enter the Nextel Cup Series in 2007 with a Camry. I was wondering if you were part of this new team. You are a part owner of Red Horse Racing. I noticed the "Red" in the name and thought may be a part owner since Marty Gaunt is the general manager for the team. Jeff Hammond: No, not at the moment. The Red Bull team that was announced last week has ties to Formula 1. It's really a huge step for this team to move into NASCAR, and as much as I hate to say it, we did wind up losing Red Horse Racing's general manager, Marty Gaunt, with the blessings of Toyota. We're trying to help them get ready for Nextel Cup competition, and we're really kind of flattered that they wanted to include Gaunt in that program. He's done an awesome job for us. We chose the name Red Horse because my partner, Tom DeLoach, came from Mobil, and that company's symbol, Pegasus, is red. The name came from out of respect for Mobil and his love for that company, and we chose it to identify our team. It just a coincidence that Toyota's Nextel Cup sponsor is Red Bull, the energy drink. Robby Gordon has run their colors on several occasions in both the Busch and Nextel Cup ranks. Red Bull isn't a stranger, but next year, they're really going to be a big player.

Gordon going to Toyota?

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Dakar Rally

2007 Toyota Camry

Joe from Temecula, Calif.: I am a longtime Robby Gordon fan. He has had a very long relationship with Toyota, going back to 1989 with PPI/Cal Wells/Ivan Stewart/Rod Millen in the Mickey Thompson off road stadium series. Then in 1997-1999 with Toyota in CART. He also ran a Toyota trophy truck during that time as well. With his recent success and significant growth of his off-road program, largely backed by Red Bull, GM and Hummer for the Dakar race along with DEI engines for his Nextel Cup Program, what is one to think? Most signs point to him racing a Toyota in Nextel Cup in 2007, but with GM stepping up lately? Any insight? Jeff Hammond: It's really hard to say because this is a business, and you have to do what's necessary to protect your investment. Back when Junior Johnson pretty much was a GM mainstay, he found himself in a position where he had to make a change and wound up going to Ford. Roger Penske left Ford to go to Dodge. As a competitor, you have to answer some questions like, "What can we do to make our team better? Is this the best product that we can be racing? And will this give us future success and an opportunity to win races?" That's where Gordon finds himself right now. He knows that Toyota is a very strong and fierce competitor in motorsports, no matter whether it's here in the United States or abroad. He's a smart enough businessman to leave his options open. GM respects what Gordon has done for them. We're just seeing the tip of the iceberg with a lot of teams and a lot of owners trying to make a decision. Everybody wants to go to victory lane, and that's no different as far as Toyota is concerned. They didn't get into Nextel Cup racing to just show up. They came over to make a difference and rock the NASCAR world so it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Parrott-Roush split

Jessa from Dora, Ala.: Why would Roush Racing and Brad Parrott split after winning five races and finish third in Busch Series points in 2005?
Speed Mail Jeff
Jeff Hammond: So many times, you wonder why people change or feel like they're not fitting in like they once did. The situation between Brad Parrott and Roush Racing is no different. That company is so big, and any time you are trying to continue to have that winning chemistry, it's very difficult to let one individual who justs wants to be an individual continue down that path if there's some doubt about the best interestes of the company moving forward. Sometimes changes are necessary. I've seen it time and time again all the way back from David Pearson leaving the Wood Brothers to Junior Johnson and Darrell Waltrip splitting. It's part of the history of our sport. It can be family like crew chief Dale Inman and Richard Petty separating or one of the wondergroups of our time, Ray Evernham and Jeff Gordon, splitting up. You have to look at each situation individually, and it was just time for a change at Roush. Just like his brother Todd left Robert Yates Racing and went back, there's a good possibility that Brad may wind up going back to Roush Racing in the future. You never know.


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 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: Jeff Gordon

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