Friday, November 27, 2009

Anger, drama in the last few weeks leaves NASCAR fans wanting more after finale in Homestead.

Denny Hamlin pays back Brad Keselowski, but Hamlin ends up looking like a rookie

Welcome back ladies and gentlemen, about one week ago at Homestead-Miami Speedway, all three of NASCAR’s national series had their season finales on the 1.5 mile track that ended with its normal fireworks. But it’s been the last few weeks that still have NASCAR fans talking and wanting more after the action on the racetrack has heated up.

All three series as a matter of fact have had their moments of anger and drama from Ron Hornaday Jr. and Todd Bodine getting wrecked by Matt Crafton in St. Louis where Crafton’s comment was “I ain’t scared” while Todd Bodine’s comment was “You can’t fix stupid”. Crafton spend the rest of the season playing brides made, finishing runner up in several races and the championship and dodging a few angry drivers. Of course also in the Truck Series was Ron Hornaday Jr. getting pushed around by Kyle Busch, but it was Texas that that battle had its moment when Kyle Busch nailed Hornaday Jr. for no call going down the back straightaway to take the lead.

By the way, it was Kevin Harvick who won the last two races of the season, first in Phoenix and second by dominating in Homestead.

Then there was the anger that broke out in and among the chase for the championship where Jimmie Johnson won his fourth consecutive NASCAR Cup Series championship in the Ford 400 with Tony Stewart and Juan Montoya. Oh boy, can you imagine it, two of the toughest guys in the garage that simply will not back down from anybody going at it on the track in Homestead, that was classic. First it was a slide job by Stewart on the front straightaway that leads to a bump from Montoya to Stewart, then some good contact going down the back straightaway from Stewart on Montoya that cut down Montoya’s right front sending him and his teammate into the outside wall.

Finally after Montoya’s car was fixed, Montoya drove right into Stewart coming off turn 4 to spin him out, look he did a Denny Hamlin, I will get to that in a minute. Of course NASCAR would penalize Montoya 2 laps for rough drivers, of course that did nothing considering Montoya was already several laps down. Neither one of these drivers is going to get pushed around and not give something back. We have seen Montoya and Gordon recently in Martinsville, but this case Stewart pushed back. Ehen will Montoya learn, you just don’t mess with some drivers. “You can’t fix stupid”, I love that line.

However none of these even compare to the rivalry/battle in the Nationwide Series that has been going on for over a years and a half now. Of course I’m talking about Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch vs. Brad Keselowski.

The feud between Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski all started or came to a head for the first time back in Charlotte at Lowe’s Motor Speedway (the CarQuest Auto Parts 300) in May 2008 when Bad was driving the #88 U.S. Navy Chevrolet. I remember this race, because it was a race that I would never forget. Brad Keselowski is known for a lot of things and being a hard driver (even aggressive at times), meaning will fight for every position not only to get, but keep and during this race, #20-Hamlin was trying to catch leader #32-Kyle Busch and he was getting raced hard by Brad.

This is what you are suppose to do in a race, race hard every lap for every position, it doesn’t matter if you are racing for the lead, 5th, 10th, or 30th, you race and Denny Hamlin didn’t like it one bit. The truth is, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch hate it when other drivers in the Nationwide Series race them hard, they think because they are “Cup Series drivers” that other drivers should move over. The Nationwide Series in their eyes is there play ground, but it isn’t.

So Denny Hamlin came up alongside Brad Keselowski and hit Brad’s left side fender. Now Brad’s owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. was driving the #83 that night was right behind him and came up and hit Denny Hamlin in the back bumper. After the race, a fight broke out between the #88 pit crew and the #20 pit crew. It was dirty on the part of Hamlin, he just doesn’t get it.

Since then, there has been on track battles between not only Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski, but Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski. There are several cases that come to mind, but Hamlin said that he was wrecked four times by Brad. One had to be in Dover in the final laps when Hamlin left the door open on the bottom and Brad went for it, but closed too quickly, which resulted in contact and Hamlin into the outside wall. You know I have to say that Brad has been in a few accidents from Bristol with Justin Alliger, Carl Edwards at Memphis, but he has taken responsibility for all of them, but you don’t hear Hamlin or Busch for that matter taking responsibility for their incidents.

Of course at Phoenix, Hamlin got into Brad on the back straightaway, so Brad spun Hamlin out on the next corner. After the race Hamlin said "there's a lot of guys that owe him" and "a lot of guys that have a lot of chips that they're going to cash in.

“I'm just going to be the first to the pay window," said Hamlin. Hamlin would carry out that threat when he spun Brad out early in the race at Homestead (look he pulled a Hamlin) which lead to a one-lap penaliy for rough driving by NASCAR.

After the Homestead race, Denny Hamlin said "I've been wrecked four times by him. I've not wrecked him any. So, it's a one-sided scale that eventually has to even up. Maybe not fully, but that scale has got to tip a little bit," said Hamlin, rapidly becoming the most outspoken driver in the garage. "I've gotten the short end of the deal every single time, and it's not just me. He's wrecked our cars. He's put our fabricators through hell. And it's not just us. [There are] four guys at Memphis that he wrecked. There are just a lot of guys, and that's the part he's going to have to work on. He's got the speed and everything. It's just he thinks that the way he does things is the right way, and truthfully it's not. Anybody inside this garage that knows anything about the sport will tell you that it's not." – (Quotes from NASCAR.com Article)

I was amazed that a veteran driver would be so happy that he spun out another driver, of course he didn’t finish the job, but got penalized for it, came back with a top 5 finish and felt like he won the race. I mean “You really can’t fix stupid”, all I can say is, it was Hamlin who looked like the rookie last Saturday and I really hope that not only Kyle Busch, but Denny Hamlin get what’s coming to them and get spun out, it’s the only way they will learn.

What a season it has been for NASCAR, congrats to Ron Hornaday Jr. for winning his fourth NASCAR Camping World Series Championship (1996, 1998, 2007 and 2009), Kyle Busch wins for winning 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series championship (well at least he can drive) and Jimmie Johnson for captures his fourth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, it’s been great and while part of me wishes it wasn’t over, the other part does.