By admin | June 28, 2010
By Richard Allen
2010 has not been the year of the teammates in NASCAR. Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson had a well publicized spat at one point in the season. Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya have had their differences and Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch may have cost one another $1 million in the All Star Race.
On Sunday in New Hampshire, Kasey Kahne got very little love from his pseudo Ford teammates, or at least that was the way he seemed to perceive it.
During the middle sections of the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 Kahne appeared to be in command and possibly on his way to victory. Then, his Richard Petty Motorsports Ford came up behind Matt Kenseth to put the #17 Roush Fenway Ford one lap down.
After catching Kenseth with relative ease Kahne found himself having difficulty in getting around his fellow â€˜Blue Ovalâ€™ competitor.
â€œMatt really picked it up, huh?â€ Kahne commented to his spotter with a tone that indicated either sarcasm, frustration or both.
A few laps later, Kenseth and Kahne caught up with the Fords of Carl Edwards, Paul Menard and David Ragan. The frustration only seemed to mount as the #9 car was unable to find its way around the four drivers. All the while, Kyle Busch was gaining on Kahne for the race lead.
Finally, as Kahne continued to struggle with the would be lapped cars, Buschâ€™s #18 Toyota roared around him and then easily went by those who Kahne had been working so hard to put a lap down.
â€œIf theyâ€™re gonna race me why donâ€™t they race the 18!â€ the frustrated Kahne screamed into his radio.
As has been well documented, Kahne will be leaving RPM at the end of the 2010 season to drive Chevrolets for a yet to be announced team in 2011 and eventually for Hendrick Motorsports in 2012.
Whether his leaving played any role in the lack of cooperation he received from his fellow Ford campaigners is unknown and probably not likely. It should be pointed out that eventual winner Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus complained about being held up by Kenseth as well. No driver wants to get lapped by any other driver and they often race harder when the leader comes up behind than at any other time during the race. However, it did seem a bit strange that Kahne fought to lap these cars for so many laps and then Busch got around them so easily.
Eventually, it mattered very little as Kahneâ€™s new Ford FR9 engine expired later in the event.
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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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