By admin | June 19, 2013
By Richard Allen
There were several things that happened during this past weekend at the Michigan International Speedway. But one of the things that received a great deal of attention was some rather high profile remarks made against Hendrick Motorsports by their chief rivals. It seems as if those who have to compete against NASCAR’s most powerful organization on a regular basis have some deep seeded issues with their rival.
Earlier last week, 2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski ruffled the feathers of “Mr. Hendrick” himself when he complained that HMS steals information from Ford teams by poaching employees from Roush Fenway Racing and Penske Racing.
Rick Hendrick responded by saying, “Brad misrepresents the facts and spends a lot of time making insinuations and accusations about other teams when he should be focused on his own program and competing at a high level. I hope he figures that out and begins representing himself and the sport with more class.”
Keselowski had actually been asked about the relationship between his Penske team and RFR and why the two prominent Ford powers do not share information more freely. It was then that the often outspoken driver called out HMS and Joe Gibbs Racing for their hiring practices. “What keeps it from going too far is the fact Hendrick and JGR have this nasty little habit of going to our teams and outbidding different people and taking those employees and stealing our information,” he said.
This is not the first time Keselowski has taken issue with HMS. Earlier this season, he claimed that others(likely HMS) are allowed to get away with certain infractions that his own team was penalized for. This was followed by rumor and insinuation that it was Hendrick employees who snitched to NASCAR officials regarding some questionable pieces in the rear ends of the Penske cars found during a pre-race inspection in Texas.
Of course, HMS is a likely target to face the scorn of other teams because of the fact that they win so often and have a fleet of the sport’s most popular drivers. Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon have amassed nine Sprint Cup titles between them and have collected a remarkable 150 race winning trophies during their time with Rick Hendrick’s team.
Further, HMS drivers Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Kasey Kahne receive more cheers than do most others when introduced to crowds gathered at tracks across America each week. To not only be beaten regularly on the track but also be outsold in the souvenir lot can be very damaging to the egos of other competitors.
And Keselowski is not the only driver to have hurled a barb in Hendrick’s direction this past weekend. After taking the checkered flag in Michigan, RFR driver Greg Biffle not only celebrated his victory by thanking his team but also by taking a jab at Johnson. “I love it when the 48 crashes trying to catch us!” he exclaimed into his team radio on the cool down lap.
Later, Biffle reworded his comment into a more politically correct statement. “I don’t want to see anybody wreck,” he explained. “I should have said, ‘Make a mistake.’ And that’s truly what he did. We got him to falter, and it makes you feel good when you push the guy over the edge and beat him at his game.”
You can call it rivalry, jealousy or just good ole gamesmanship, but this past weekend in Michigan brought to light something most already knew anyway. Other teams don’t seem to like Hendrick Motorsports very much.
And those rivals got the last laugh just outside ‘The Motor City’ of Detroit when HMS cars finished 28th, 37th, 38th and 39th. But you can bet there won’t be many more of those days in the future. Of course, the best way to resolve whatever issues other teams may have is to simply go out and beat HMS regularly. But that’s much easier said than done.
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