Remember the scene from “Days of Thunder” where Cole Trickle and that other driver are supposed to have dinner together? Neither wants the other to drive. They get separate rental cars that they trash while driving to the restaurant. Then they have a nice dinner that is the catalyst to softening their relationship, allowing Trickle to eventually make a triumphant comeback after boffing Nicole Kidman. Remember that?
This needs to happen with Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski. I’ll let them decide who gets the cute girl.
For the third time in three months, Keselowski and Hamlin made contact in a Nationwide Series race. The back-and-forth was serious enough that the leaders of the NASCAR mafia, Brian France, Mike Helton and Robin Pemberton, met with Keselowski in his hauler before Sunday’s Sprint Cup race in Phoenix. Here’s Keselowski’s comments to a gaggle of reporters after the principal’s office came to him.
“The biggest message was – because I don’t want you guys to speculate on (it) – was just trying to pick and choose who you want to be your friends and enemies in the sport and making sure that I understood that process, what it takes to make it at this level and how you’re going to need friends down the line and make sure that you don’t alienate everybody but at the same time to not give up on being a hard charger. I think that was the basic tone of the conversation, of just trying to figure out what it takes to be successful at this level. I certainly don’t feel like I have all the answers but I’m doing the best I can and will welcome any of the advice I can get.”
I would translate that as "Chill the F out, Brad."
Hamlin and Keselowski nudged each other Saturday. Cleary, NASCAR took a side on who was in the wrong, and that person’s name rhymes with Deselowski. Here’s what Pemberton told reporters, including those from Scene Daily.
“We just talked about things in general. We respect the fact that these guys race hard, and they need to race hard and they’re going to continue to race hard. But to have someone have a potential DNF out of being too aggressive is what we don’t need. Basically, that’s it.”
For what it’s worth, Hamlin was quoted as calling Keselowski “a moron” after Saturday’s incident. Earlier this year, Hamlin told a reporter from FOX that Keselowksi “wasn’t man enough” to apologize for previous incidents. Here’s what Hamlin told reporters about their latest pissing match.
“I just wanted to say (to Keselowski), ‘Hey, look, you wreck me at Watkins Glen last year, you wreck me at Dover this year, you force me into the three-wide wreck at California, how many times have I wrecked you? Zero. Never have I wrecked you,’” Hamlin said after the meeting. “I could talk to this … concrete right here and it would talk back more,” Hamlin said.
Them sounds like fighting words, especially after you hear Keselowski’s thoughts on the situation.
“You’re always changing your style, you’re always progressing as a driver,” Keselowski said. “Do I need to do things better? Yeah all the time. Is that specific to being aggressive? Sometimes, sometimes not. Being aggressive is what got me here. Nobody has handed me anything in my career. I’ve dug and clawed for everything I’ve got and the only way to do that is by being aggressive".
Kudos to both drivers for showing some passion. Kudos to Keselowski for sticking to his guns. Kudos to Hamlin for continuing a trend of blunt honesty, regardless of the target. We’ve talked about ways to settle this feud; let’s just hope it doesn’t trickle to the Sprint Cup side of things, where people actually care who wins the title.
And now I present to you, Kyle Busch, Voice of Reason: