By admin | June 29, 2012
By Richard Allen
Early in the day at the Kentucky Speedway on Friday the cars of Juan Pablo Montoya and Brad Keselowski got together in what at the time appeared to be incidental contact on the first lap of the first practice for this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race. However, at least one of the drivers involved did not see it as merely incidental contact.
Keselowski and his team were forced to pull out a back up car as his primary machine was damaged just enough from the contact with Montoya and a brush with the wall for that car to be retired.
At the beginning of the second practice for Sprint Cup cars, Keselowski quickly found Montoya’s #42 car and began banging the rear bumper multiple times. The resulting damage to the #42 car was serious enough to cause that team to spend time pounding sheet metal.
As the title of this piece indicates, my question is why would Keselowski even risk a feud with Montoya?
It would seem hard to believe the first incident was anything more than an accident. Both cars were coming up to speed with Montoya ahead of Keselowski. The #2 car was going considerably faster than the #42 and they just looked to have run out of room.
On that point, even Keselowski has the same perspective as most others who watched events unfold. “I think we can all agree that I ran into the back of him,” he said in a SPEED interview during qualifying. “I think that’s where the common ground is. From there, there’s probably some varying opinions.
“That’s something that him and I will hopefully be able to work through and if not, so be it,” the Michigan native continued. “But for me, I feel like I can’t let people push me around in this sport. My team works really damn hard to put me in a position where I’ve got fast race cars like I’ve got and I’ve got to show them I care enough about them to deserve those cars. So to have someone push me around on the racetrack is not something I’m going to stand for.”
But where was the pushing around? Perhaps Keselowski believes Montoya was watching in the mirror and timed his entry into turn three so that the contact would occur. Or perhaps some previous run-in simply caused Keselowski to boil over in this case.
Of course, when Keselowski mentions not being pushed around, thoughts have to go back to his well publicized battles with Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch. He may see certain incidents as an attempt to push him around that others might not even remotely consider in the same way.
For his part, Montoya seemed as puzzled as anyone regarding Keselowski’s reaction. After that first practice, SPEED asked the Colombian driver what happened. “I would like to know as well,” he commented. “I came out of the pits. They told me he had a big run. I put my hand out to wave at him. I started turning and running high. I think he thought he’d cleared me and he was probably going to run high and ran straight into me. We didn’t even do a lap. I wasn’t even up to speed.
“I was really shocked,” Montoya went on. “I saw him coming, I waved, I saw him beside me. I left two grooves on the bottom and he still hit me. It’s just what it is.”
Keselowski essentially sent himself to the NASCAR hauler to discuss the matter with series officials while Montoya spotter Jeff Dickerson made a trip to Keselowski’s hauler to talk things over.
But again, the question comes up for Keselowski- why not just let it go? Keselowski is 10th in the Sprint Cup standings and in the midst of a fight for a Chase for the Championship spot. He has much to lose from a squabble that spills onto the track during a points paying race.
Montoya, on the other hand, is mired in the 22nd position of standings with virtually no hope of making the Chase. He has nothing to lose from an escalating grudge match, and he has been known to have a long memory in such cases.
In the end, it would seem as though Brad Keselowski may have helped make a mountain out of mole hill that could potentially cost him much more than making his point is worth.
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