NASCAR

Speed Mail: Juan-dering about open wheelers

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Larry McReynolds

Larry McReynolds has more than 30 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, Daytona 500-winning crew chief and broadcaster. He earned 23 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief, including two victories in the prestigious Daytona 500, as well as a pair of non-points victories in the annual all-star race. Follow him on Twitter.

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Clint from Greenville, S.C.: Do you think the wave of open-wheel drivers coming to NASCAR has anything to do with the COT car having a rear wing? I know the car is still much heavier, but since the new car has a rear wing, maybe team owners figure it's something that would carry over in how the open-wheelers drive the cars. Larry McReynolds: No, I honestly don't think that has anything to do with it. Juan Pablo Montoya has told me the attraction to open-wheel drivers like Patrick Carpentier, Dario Franchitti, Sam Hornish Jr. and Jacques Villeneuve is the sport's popularity, level of competition and just the sheer number of races. Juan Pablo said he raced 14 or 15 times but probably tested twice as many times. He said if he's going to be in a race car that much, he'd just as well be racing. Even though the 36-race schedule looked very inviting to Montoya, I think he's ready for some off time because it's been overwhelming. I do hospitality for Texaco with Juan at a lot of races, and at Lowe's Motor Speedway, he said he was confused by the program that Carpentier, Franchitti, Hornish and Villeneuve were following.

The minute Juan was released from his Formula One team and got the go-ahead to test, Chip Ganassi had him in a Busch car, an ARCA car or a Cup car almost every single day of the week. He was testing and racing anything and everything he could. He said these guys seemed like they were a little behind. Before Martinsville, I spoke with Trackside producer, Mark Smith, about the Craftsman Truck race at the bullring. I asked, "Mark, what if someone told you when the Truck Series was formed in 1995 or even two years ago that the 2007 fall race at Martinsville would have a Formula One champ/Indy 500 winner and an IndyCar Series champ/Indy 500 winner, what would you have said? He said, "I would have told you that you were out of your mind." But that's what happened on Saturday.

Petty not ready to deal

Joe from Staten Island, N.Y.: I'm a big Petty fan, and it makes me sick to hear that they can't strike a deal with Gillett Evernham Motorsports. I think that this is going to hurt them. Plus, Kyle has to realize running around the top 35 in points is hurting the team and future funding from sponsors later on. What do you think about this situation? Larry McReynolds: I thought that was going to be a great deal for the Pettys, but there are elements of it that I don't know and haven't been discussed publicly. Maybe they couldn't come to terms on money or other parts of the agreement. In defense of the Petty family, I can see where it could be a difficult deal to make. Petty Enterprises has been in Randleman, N.C., since before most of us were even born, so it had to be very tough for them to even think about it. I'm sure there were a lot of reasons that a deal didn't come to fruition, but I thought it was going to be an awesome deal for the Pettys to pull off.

Fuel pick-up is right

Dick from Ft. Myers, Fla.: Why are the pick-up tubes on right side instead of left? That way, you get fuel more easily since tracks are banked to the left. Larry McReynolds: That's a great question, but 90 percent of the focus on picking up fuel is when you're racing at speed. Whether you're on a flat track or a high-banked track like Lowe's, the fuel is going to be in the right rear corner when you're at speed running through the corners at 160 or 170 mph. If you don't think so, put an open drink can beside you on your armrest and take a corner at 50 mph, then tell me where that can ends up. It's not going to end up on the left side.

Red-flag rules

Henry from Muskogee, Okla.: What is the penalty for working on a car under a red flag? Is the car confiscated? If there is a penalty, why can't you take it and fix your car?

Speed Mail Larry McReynolds

Larry McReynolds: That's a great question. It's my understanding that if you do work on your car under a red flag, you are done for the day. When I was a crew chief, we were absolutely destroyed one day at the track. We were repairing our car just to try to get it in the truck — that's how bad it was torn up. NASCAR came to me under a red flag and said, "You've got to quit working on it." I said, "I'm not working on it to put it back on the racetrack; I'm just trying to get the son of a gun back on the truck." They responded, "Just remember if you continue working on it, you absolutely cannot go back out on the racetrack."

I'm 100 miles away...

Judy from Mounds View, Minn.: Is the Lauren Wallace kid in the GEICO commercials really a WALLACE.....if he ain't he should be....hehe luv this kid? Larry McReynolds: No, I don't think he is, and I'm not sure that's actually his real name. We're running out of shows, but we were — and as far as I know — still are definitely trying to get him on SPEED's Trackside (Friday at 7 p.m. ET). He'd be a very neat guest.


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.

Tagged: Dario Franchitti, Juan Pablo Montoya, Patrick Carpentier, Jacques Villeneuve

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