NASCAR

Gas 'n' Go: Options for Rudd, Labonte; inconsistent penalties

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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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Ric from Houston, Texas: I am hearing a lot of rumors about Bobby Labonte not being in the No. 18 car next season. Also, I now hear that Ricky Rudd may be out of the No. 21 car. What's the truth to these rumors my friend? Jeff Hammond: Over the last year and a half, I know that Bobby Labonte hasn't been happy in the No. 18 car. Joe Gibbs Racing has tried to make some changes to pick up the team's performance, and it just really hasn't played out for Labonte. With the opportunities available right now, I would not be one bit surprised to see Labonte drive for somebody else next year. It seems like Labonte is a player. He's an option guy, but there are still some other cats that are up in the air and haven't committed. We're still waiting to see whether Tony Raines is going to drive for Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach at Hall of Fame Racing. If Raines goes there, who fills his current seat? From what I am seeing and what I am being told, there will be a change in the No. 21 car, and Ricky Rudd will not be back. I look for Ken Schrader to drive the No. 21 car, and I look for Mike Bliss to go in the No. 49 car next year. Jeff Green will probably be driving the 0 car. There will be a lot of driver changes heading into 2006. There are a lot of options for Rudd if he's going to do another year. If Rudd wants to drive, there are some very credible rides in which he could make a really good showing. When the next domino falls, it will dictate the outcome for a lot of these drivers. As we get closer to the end of the year, it's going to be incredible to watch. Every driver wants to have his deal done and know where he's racing next year before he goes to New York in December. Make sure that you get the Daytona 500 program so you can find out who is where and what's going on before the start of the season.

NASCAR needs to be consistent

Mary from Jacksonville, Ark.: It was reported that NASCAR parked Kurt Busch at Martinsville to show the other drivers that they meant business. What about when Kevin Harvick hit Dale Earnhardt Jr. and took out several other cars? Also Kyle Busch bumped a driver. NASCAR should have followed through and penalized the other drivers that did the same thing as Busch. Jeff Hammond: NASCAR has to be careful. Is there indisputable evidence that Michael Waltrip didn't spin his wheels and Kurt Busch dove in there 20 car lengths behind him and got into him? I saw the same thing happen four or five other times with four or five different drivers, and I really wonder why they picked out Busch. Fortunately, the penalty didn't have catastrophic repercussions, but I still wonder why they singled him out.
Speed Mail Jeff
NASCAR made a choice, and I would like to understand it because I didn't have instant replay to back up two or three laps to see if I missed something. When a driver like Waltrip isn't really the cream of the crop and is on two old tires, it's so easy for a driver with four fresh tires to get into him. You get back in the throttle when you're trying to drive underneath the guy, and he holds the line instead of sliding up like he did the lap before. You get into him, and all of the sudden, you are penalized a lap. NASCAR should give a little bit more thought before it busts drivers running for a championship. Clearly, Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran into the corner and turned around Travis Kvapil, and nobody said a thing about it. Whether you love or hate Kurt Busch, take the colors and numbers off of the cars, and just look at the situation. Is NASCAR comparing apples to apples when it makes judgment calls that could have a huge impact on the season standings? I just want to make sure it's a fair process for all drivers.


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

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