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No give-and-take leads to Ganassi dispute
Montoya much fasterAndy from St, Marys, Pa.: Larry, as a longtime stock car racing fan (I am 61) I am unable to see what Juan Pablo Montoya did wrong when he spun Scott Pruett. Montoya got his nose under Pruett, and it seemed like Pruett moved down on him. The only possible criticism I have of Montoya is that he didn't have to make the move so soon. Your thoughts? Larry McReynolds: I totally agree with you 100 percent. From the minute the track opened for practice on Friday, it was evident that if you beat Montoya, you were probably going to win the race. In Friday's final practice, he was 3/4 of a second faster than anybody there. If he hadn't gotten a little overanxious in qualifying and slid the front tires getting into one of the slower corners, he probably would have been on the pole by a significant amount, too. He ended up qualifying third. If he hadn't had a fuel overflow problem on Sunday, God only knows by how much he would have won the race. Let's face it. With roughly 24 laps to go, the guy restarted 19th, and with the help of some cautions, he was fighting for the lead with eight or nine laps to go.
I can see both sides. I don't want to be one of these guys that says, "Well, it was just racing." Because it really wasn't. There's no question that Montoya caught Pruett off guard. He drove in there so fast that he was there before Pruett even realized it. Pruett opened the door a little bit. It's called "entering the corner at a road course." You do a late entry, drive to the bottom in the middle of the corner and come off. You try to straighten out the corner as much as possible. Listening to interviews with team owners Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates as well as Montoya's crew chief Brad Parrott and Pruett himself, it was obvious as the nose on the end of your face that Montoya was much faster than everybody there. On top of that, he had fresher tires. With nine laps to go, he was trying to win his first race. I'm sure he felt that it was slipping away from him when they had to bring him back onto pit road to rectify the fuel overflow issue. If Montoya had rolled out of the throttle and let Pruett back in, he would have driven right by Pruett over the next 1/2 to 3/4 of a lap. If it had been one, two or three laps to go, you could understand it a little better, but it was nine laps to go.
Breaking team rules?Sam from Atlanta: Boo for Montoya! Not a very cool move to make... much less on a teammate!
Larry McReynolds: Did Pruett give and take? Maybe not. Could Montoya have been a little more patient? Absolutely because he was going to win that race. I can make cases against both Pruett and Montoya. A day later, we're still saying what should have happened. Montoya and Pruett had about half a second to make a decision. Sometimes, you make the right decision; sometimes, you make the wrong one. Pruett said he knew Montoya was faster, and he was going to race him. But they would have worked it out pretty quickly with Pruett finally letting Montoya go because Montoya was much faster. I've worked with multi-car teams, and Ganassi hit the nail on the head. Before the race started, he had feeling that something like it could have happened. On Sunday morning, the owner sat down and talked extensively with them about this situation. He stated the same protocol that we had at Robert Yates Racing and Richard Childress Racing. There's no such thing as team orders. If you can let your teammate lead a lap and get five bonus points, you should do it. Don't race your teammate any different than you would another competitor. Race each other just as hard as you want to race. Lean on each other. But there are two ground rules. Don't wreck each other, and don't help another car or team beat your teammate.
Move is big newsJosh from Moulton, Ala.: Yes, Montoya was a Formula One winner, and he's an Indy 500 winner. But do you not think he is receiving too much media exposure in the Nextel Cup? After all, he hasn't proven himself at this level of competition yet, and he already receives more exposure than 75 percent of NASCAR drivers.
|Speed Mail Larry McReynolds|
Larry McReynolds: The guy left a fairly successful Formula One career, and he came to NASCAR. That's a big story. When you look at NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program, the one weak link whether it's been a woman, African-American, Hispanic, Canadian, whatever hasn't been the drivers' talent. It's probably been the fact that they haven't been in the best equipment. For the first time, we've got a diversity driver and he is a diversity driver from Colombia in top-notch equipment. All eyes are watching to see how he performs. It's big for NASCAR, and it's great for our sport. We talked about him at Daytona after he qualified well, which is not a big deal there. He raced well in his Duel 150. Then, he got a huge schooling in the Daytona 500. But I don't feel like we're overworking the Montoya deal. When he qualified well at Fontana, we talked about it. When he didn't run well in the race, we didn't talk about him. I don't feel like we're overselling what he's doing or what he might do. But it's a big story when someone walks away from Formula One and comes to NASCAR.
FOX race analyst Larry McReynolds has more than 25 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, crew chief and broadcaster. He and his fellow Crew Chief Club members take you behind the wall at www.crewchiefclub.com.
"How to Become a Winning Crew Chief" is on bookstore shelves, or you may order your own autographed copy from www.DWStore.com.