By admin | May 24, 2010
By Richard Allen
During and after Saturday’s Sprint All Star Race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway there was obvious tension between Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch. The two were involved in an incident that might well have cost at least one of them $1 million.
In the race’s final segment Hamlin was running first with Busch right behind him. Busch got a big run and looked as if he were going to have enough speed to pass Hamlin on the high side until the #11 Toyota moved up in his path. Busch bounced off the wall which damaged the right side of his car.
Later, the bent fender on the #18 caused a tire to blow out which led to Busch’s ultimate demise.
“You better keep me away from Denny,” Busch exclaimed over his in car radio. After saying that, he immediately drove straight to the back of Hamlin’s hauler and stormed inside.
Hamlin was told by his team to keep his distance after the race ended. Eventually, a meeting was held in the hauler between the two drivers and owner Joe Gibbs. Even though both Hamlin and Gibbs emerged from the meeting saying everything had been worked out, Busch’s hurried exit did not indicate that he agreed.
The question that matters most out of all this is whether or not Saturday’s events will have any impact on the recent strong run of momentum enjoyed by the JGR teammates. I believe the answer to that question is no, it will not have a detrimental impact.
So far in 2010, JGR teams have won five of the twelve points paying races.
The momentum these teams have gained has mostly come from the engineering department. There is little reason for this incident to impact that area of the JGR organization. The engineers do not necessarily work for one team or the other. They are JGR employees, not Hamlin or Busch employees.
As long as these two are not out on the track wrecking each other, which they will not be, the little spat may actually help JGR. These are two pretty fiery competitors by today’s NASCAR standards. Internal rivalry may actually spur them to bigger and better things.
Sorry to the Hamlin and Busch dissenters out there. This is not going to be the thing that ruins what they currently have going on. As a matter of fact, they may even get stronger.
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Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.
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