NASCAR

Gas 'n Go: Opening door for more than Montoya

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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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Choosing side-by-side

Neil from McKinney, Texas: Scott Pruett had to know Juan Pablo Montoya was going under him. Pruett could have stayed up, but didn't. Thats racin'!

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  • Jeff Hammond: That's a pretty good assessment. When Montoya got by Pruett on Lap 3, it set up the contact between them on Lap 72. It's hard to fault either one. When Pruett saw Montoya coming early in the race, the pole-sitter had already led a lap, and he didn't want to use up his equipment. In Montoya's mind, it set up the situation, and he thought, "Oh, I've been here. I'm going to do it again." Being the racer that he is, Pruett said, "You're going to have to earn the pass this time." Pruett tried slamming the door, and both drivers definitely misjudged the move.

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  • Juan Pablo didn't do anything deliberately, but he definitely got in there. And they got together. I hate it for Pruett, but he has to remember who he was racing. Montoya is a man who loves to win but has limited experience in a big car so he's not going to stop on a dime. Plus, I'm sure Montoya didn't anticipate Pruett coming across him quite as hard as he did. You don't want to call it "just racing," but it definitely was aggressive on both sides. It makes for one whale of a week between Mexico and Las Vegas for people to talk. I really felt like Paul Menard was going to give Montoya a run for Nextel Cup rookie of the year. Now, David Ragan is stepping up. But with his Mexico City win, let's roll back the hands of time to a year ago. Denny Hamlin won in Mexico and went on to have an outstanding rookie season for Joe Gibbs. I'm just wondering if this this win will give Montoya the kind of encouragement and confidence that will allow him to be even more of a factor at a lot of tracks, including Bristol, where he's never raced. The race continues to be a success for NASCAR and the fans of Mexico City because everybody down there seems to love racing. Mexican driver Jorge Goeters led laps and finished in the top 10, and Montoya pulled off a victory. It'll be interesting to see how much it raises the fan level in that area and how it impacts the United States. A lot of Latino Americans are going to be thrilled that they've potentially got a superstar that they can cheer for.

    NASCAR is the world's sport

    Charles from Memphis, Tenn.: Watching Juan Pablo win in Mexico on ESPN in Spanish, the only thing that would have been a bigger slap in my American redneck face would have been if he drove a Toyota. Jeff Hammond: We need to understand that NASCAR is not just our sport. It's a sport that has been accepted and embraced by countries and people all around the world. NASCAR wanted diversity in racing, and if you can earn a win in one of these stock cars, then you should be given a certain amount of respect and admiration because of how hard it is to go to victory lane. We shouldn't look at it as if somebody has been given something unfairly. Montoya went out and earned it. I've met so many great race fans from the United States but also from Canada, Japan, Germany, Russia, England and Australia. Are we to say that we're too good to allow other people to enjoy and appreciate a truly American sport? I'm very old-school and have traditional values myself, but I don't see where you cannot appreciate a man's talent whether he's American, Latino or African-American. It doesn't matter. If you've got the talent, let the rough side drag, and nationality and race shouldn't come into play.

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    Marcos at work

    Lyle from Los Angeles: While all the focus of Sundays' race in Mexico City was on Juan Pablo Montoya, not much was made of Australian Marcos Ambrose, who had a great run and came back to finish eighth after falling to 31st when he was spun with 23 laps to go. Good job Kangaroo Meat. Nice run. Jeff Hammond: Great catch. It was an awesome job. He showed moments of brilliance last year in the Craftsman Truck Series, and he's showing it again this year in the Busch Series. He's very talented and another example of what our sport is bringing out. You can't deny somebody the opportunity to race when he or she has the ability to get up on the wheel and get it done after they've been wrecked or spun out. Ambrose was able to battle his way back, and I wish the man from Down Under continued success.


    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: Paul Menard, Juan Pablo Montoya, David Ragan, Denny Hamlin, Marcos Ambrose, Scott Pruett, Jorge Goeters

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