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Gas 'n Go: Wrong way to retaliate; Kenseth raises troops morale

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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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Two sides to Carl-Dale Jr. story

William from U.S Army, Baghdad, Iraq: It was hard to tell whether Dale Earnhardt Jr. deliberately hit Carl Edwards, but Jeff Gordon has essentially said he deliberately dumped Kenseth — evidenced by his comments about wanting to show he can win cleanly and other comments after Chicago. Point is the fans booed Junior and Gordon because of their antics. Both have wrecked drivers that they didn't need to wreck and fans are fed up with poor sportsmanship.

Jeff Hammond: If you've never driven a race car and been in that situation, it's hard to say because only the driver knows for sure. From the in-car cameras and different angles on television, Edwards definitely got loose. When a race car's momentum is broken, it loses speed. When somebody has a run behind you, it's so hard to blame either person. I can't choose sides. If I'm Earnhardt, I would have said what he said, "You got loose. I got into you. I got you out of the way, and I won the race. If I'm Edwards, I would say, "I'm leading the race, and I got sideways. I'd think that Earnhardt should have given me a break." Does it seem like I'm being a fence-sitter? You have to be in the drivers' shoes to understand what they're feeling right now. It's hard to say who is right and wrong. If Earnhardt had gotten on the inside of Edwards and nudged his left rear quarterpanel, you would have to say that he wrecked him. I'll give you some examples. Look at what Rusty Wallace did to Darrell Waltrip in Charlotte during The Winston in 1989. That's spinning out somebody. Look at what Dale Earnhardt did to Terry Labonte at Bristol, that's spinning out somebody deliberately.

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At Michigan, three cars were going at it hot and heavy. When Robby Gordon stuck his nose underneath Edwards, it could have loosened up Edwards' car, made it lose grip and gotten him a little sideways. To say that Junior could have or should have gotten out of the throttle and allowed Edwards to straighten up, well, it was the last lap. The only thing that I will say to Edwards is if he's without blame and had never bumped anyone, I could understand him being a little more excited. But he got into Kyle Petty at Bristol last August, and Petty came over and let him know that he didn't appreciate it. When he retaliates with his race car, Edwards is skating on thin ice. Running into the side of somebody else's race car and jeopardizing not only Earnhardt's car but his safety and everybody else's safety, that's not smart racing. That's the stuff you see at Saturday night dirt tracks where he used to race. I've been at those tracks, too, and understand where he's coming from. But there's no place in major league stock car racing for intentionally running into the side of a competitor. If I was on Earnhardt's crew and Edwards ran into my car, there would have been a fight because that's not right. If NASCAR fines Edwards or takes away points away from him, he asked for it. If you want to settle something, get out of that race car and show me what kind of man you really are. Go to Victory Lane and say, "Look, you wrecked me. You know you did. I don't appreciate it. That was the right thing to do." I don't have a problem with that, but it doesn't mean that you have to fight him. Get in his face and tell him what you think. Don't run to the media and say something that you won't say to the other guy. I respect Edwards for going to Earnhardt and stating his feelings, just like Petty told Edwards that he did the wrong thing at Bristol last year. That's the way you should do it.

No. 17 victory = high morale

Mike from Kenosha, Wis.: Hey Jeff, my name is Sgt. Christiansen. I am in the Wisconsin Army National Guard on active duty, currently stationed in Northern Kuwait. I've been gone from home for over a year and in the desert for almost 10 months. I am a huge Kenseth fan and have only been able to see a few of the races this year. The awesome part is that I was able to see him win Dover and then Michigan. There are a lot of NASCAR fans in my unit, but me and my buddy are Kenseth fans. And when he wins, our morale is a bit better for a while. Not sure how I could get a message to Matt, but if you could, tell him keep up the awesome racing and winning. I figure if he could get three more wins, it will keep up the morale until we go back home. Take it easy and you keep up the great reporting. I enjoy your articles and insight. Jeff Hammond: It's awesome that folks deployed around the world can connect with us. It's overwhelming and makes me feel sad in one way and glad in another. I'm sad that our fans and fellow Americans are stationed overseas basically being the world's police, but at the same time, I'm glad that we have men and women that are willing to defend our country. We'll try to pass along that message not only to Kenseth but to owner Jack Roush and crew chief Robbie Reiser as well. I know that they completely support and feel the same way I do when it comes to all the armed forces and what they do for us. The No. 17 team and Roush Racing are very patriotic, and I know they will appreciate your well wishes. I also know that they would like nothing better than to fulfill your wishes of winning more races and keeping your morale up because — oh, by the way — it happens to keep up their morale, too.

Ultimate Pit Warrior Challenge

Hopefully when you get home, you'll have a chance to take part in the second Ultimate Pit Warrior Challenge, but right now, we're excited to have Drash as a sponsor. They supply tents, air conditioning, generators and many different military pieces. It's great to have Ranger Joe's in Columbus, Ga. on board as another sponsor. They've been supplying soldiers with combat gear for a long time. They've got one in Fort Benning, Ga. and another one in Fort Stewart, Ga. It's great to have those folks as part of our challenge. Under Armour will also be part of this competition, and hopefully other sponsors like Featherlite will come on board, too. We're grateful that our sponsors are giving us the opportunity to reach out to men and women of the military. If you want to be a member of a pit crew for a day and understand what it takes while winning some prizes and money, the Ultimate Pit Warrior Challenge is how you do it. Fill out an application at JeffHammond.com and send it in. Hurry up because we've got 50 spots open, and they're going fast. We're looking for anybody who has ever been in the military or is still in the miliary. It's a way to thank you for all of your hard work. Come on down, and we'll put you through the paces.

Speed Mail Jeff

After watching pit crew challenges around NASCAR's all-star weekend and SEALs and ranger competitions on the Military Channel, we feel like this competition is the best of both worlds. Hopefully all of the armed forces branches will be represented, and we'll find out who is in the best shape and who has the best hand-and-eye coordination. But the competition is not strictly to see who's the strongest and the fastest. We want somebody who has heart and determination. Ladies, come on down. Some women have come through our PIT Instruction and Training school, and they've really surprised us. There are some people in the military right now that may come in here and turn some heads. These guys may be able to do 100 push-ups, but maybe the 25 that you do impress your coaches or team members more than you think. Your hand-and-eye coordination may capture the prize. We're looking for more than just the cat that's 6'6", 245 pounds and benches 500 pounds while running a four-flat 40.


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: Kyle Petty, Jeff Gordon, Terry Labonte, Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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