Monday, November 23, 2009

On "the feud", the resurgence of RCR, Hornaday's fourth, and the end of the streak

The recent flare-up in hostilities between Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski breathed some excitement into what was an otherwise bland end of the 2009 season. Hamlin's frustrations with Keselowski were well noted by the media. Afterall, Keselowski had caused Hamlin to spin and/or crash at least four times over the last year and a half. Members of the media have gone to other drivers asking them to weigh on on the antics, and most have sided with Hamlin - including the so-called Mayor of the NCSC garage area Jeff Burton. But not one member of the media asked any of the drivers to analyze what started the feud, when Hamlin sideswiped Keselowski at Charlotte in 2008 after being raced "too hard."

Burton was quoted in the AP's recap of an incident between Tony Stewart and Juan Montoya:

Veteran driver Jeff Burton said stock car racing could do without the trash talking.

"What this sport needs is good racing. It doesn't need running that mouth," he said. "I think running that mouth is not what it's all about. Good hard racing is what fans want to see."

Good, hard racing? Isn't that what Hamlin was upset about in that Nationwide race back in 2008? If memory serves, Keselowski never made contact with Hamlin that night; he just raced him hard for a position in the top five. When the caution waved and the field slowed, Hamlin drove up and sideswiped Keselowski and ruined the aerodynamics on the nose of Keselowski's car. Is it possible that Hamlin made a career-long enemy in Keselowski that night?

When that incident took place last season, Keselowski was still proving himself on the racetrack. Racing at the front in a Nationwide race with the Cup drivers shouldn't afford you any less respect simply because you are a Nationwide-only driver. If Hamlin didn't want to be raced hard by a Nationwide-only driver with limited experience, he shouldn't have been in the race to begin with. As hard to believe as it may be for some of the Cup guys, there are drivers in the Nationwide Series that are just as capable at running up front as the Cup guys are, and just as aggressive.

It's understandable that Hamlin is tired of getting wrecked. But it's also understandable that Keselowski is never going to give Hamlin an inch on the racetrack. If Hamlin is waiting for Keselowski to come over and apologize for what's gone on over the course of the past 18 months, maybe he should be the one to man up and apologize first for starting the feud in the first place.

Hamlin exacted his revenge on the track on Saturday, spinning Keselowski down the frontstretch and going on to win the Sprint Cup finale the next day.

Personally, I hope the apology doesn't come from either sides. In an era when most of the personalities in the sport are plain vanilla, it's nice to see some open dislike among the residents of the motorhome lot.

*Speaking of Burton, it was nice to see the No. 31 car running near the front again at the end of the race on Sunday. It's been a long season for the RCR organization, but the final month of the year saw some signs of life from the Nos. 29 and 31. A productive off-season could calm the waters with Kevin Harvick, who has made it known he'd like to leave RCR as soon as possible.

* Congratulations to Ron Hornaday at KHI on their second Camping World Truck Series title in three years, and Hornaday's fourth overall. Hornaday was consistently the man to beat all season long, although other teams did show they could match his speed throughout the course of the year. The new pit road rules, which are thankfully on the way out for 2010, continually jumbled the standings every time there was a round of pit stops and arguably cost several teams - including Matt crafton's - a chance at winning more than once throughout the year.

* One of the biggest disappointments of the season has to be the end of the "IronMan" streak for Terry Cook. Ironically Cook's streak ended where it began, at Homestead. Cook started his streak in the season opener in 1998 and he had started 295 consecutive races before being released by the HT Motorsports team after the Texas race. Cook was able to find a start-and-park ride for the Phoenix race to make it to 296, but that team withdrew from the Homestead race and the streak ground to a halt. When Rick Crawford's streak ended in 2005, SPEED made plenty of mention of the fact. Cook barely received mention on the broadcast, which is a real shame.


  1. The way I remember it, Brad bumped him first. Then Hamlin sideswiped Brad and crumpled the fender. Thus the infamous "you throw a rock I'm gonna throw a concrete block back" line. Watch at 2:47. Yeah, it was a slight tap, but it sheds a different light on the entire incident.

  2. WHy does anyone listen to Burton? Just cause he says something doesnt make it true. Media loves him cause while other drivers are too busy thinking about how to run better and faster, he's busy throwing his opinions around to anyone with a recorder or microphone. Burton makes the medias job easier cause they can always get him to spew his rhetoric. And dont get me started on his wife....

  3. Denny Hamlin has gotten way too big for his britches. He's so full of himself he thinks his opinion should have just as much, if not more, weight as Jeff Gordon's. I'm glad someone isn't willing to back down to his oversized ego, and I hope Denny gets what's coming to him next year - a large serving of humble pie. Keep it up, Brad. You keep the otherwise mind-numbing Nationwide Kyle Busch shows interesting - can't wait to see what you do with the JJ dominated snooze fest that is the Cup series!