Respect legends: Show Parsons love

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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.

Everybody can do all the spin they want on the severity of Benny Parsons' lung cancer and how it will take the courage of a champion to overcome this setback. But let's get down to what's most important. Benny Parsons is a great person.

He cares a lot about our sport and the people in it, and we need to focus on supporting him like we've supported Bobby Hamilton and anyone else who faces this battle. We need to pray for him and give him moral support during this time because this disease affects people mentally as well as physically when you realize that you're fighting something that's relentless. Those are the cold, hard facts of what we're looking at now. If the shoe were on the other foot, Parsons would be showing a huge amount of compassion toward a cancer victim. That's the kind of heart that Benny has got, and that's most important to me. We need to appreciate veterans like Parsons, Ned Jarrett, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough who still love racing. In the right race car, if they believe they can run with the likes of Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, we should never take that opportunity away from them. They've earned the respect of the fans and the right to have that feeling. They've also earned the right to be remembered for what they've done. Not for what they're trying to do, but for what they've done. I'll never go on record again saying that Darrell Waltrip is running his last race because that son of a gun loves racing. Like DW, I don't want people telling me that I can't do something because I'm too old, especially if my mind tells me I can and my heart wants to do it. While I might not be able to compete at the level I'm used to, don't steal the enjoyment that I derive from racing. Clearly, Arnold Palmer can't hit the ball as far or make 60-foot putts like Tiger Woods. But do you think he has any less love for that game than Tiger?

Speed Mail Jeff
I was proud of DW at Martinsville. I told him that he got out there and got after it like he meant it. He didn't qualify as well as he wanted, but he worked his way up from 41st. He knocked a few guys out of the way and proved that he can root and gouge with the best of them. Then he got turned around, taking away from a really successful day. Getting back in a Busch car for first time in 11 years and taking on today's competition, he should feel satisfied that he gave as good as he got. In the end, he realistically had a 10th- or 15th-place car if he hadn't gotten spun around. That's just short-track racing at Martinsville. When you can come up through the field at that track and be in position to crack the top 10 or 15, you're doing well.

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

For photos and appearances, visit Jeff's web site

Tagged: Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart

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