There is a story line that has become increasingly common on NASCAR’s Cup tour in 2010. Teammates racing each other hard, having an on-track incident, and not being happy about it after the fact.
The lack of love lost between drivers in the same stable has boiled over and the public has seen the steam.
Jimmie Johnson did not raise his status on Jeff Gordon’s Christmas card list after the pair rubbed each other the wrong way during the April race in Texas. The Hendrick Motorsports duo ran each other close causing a tire problem on the Johnson machine.
A few weeks later at Talladega Johnson put a block on Gordon. The following traffic jam and accordion effect of slowing cars caused a crash with Gordon being collected. Gordon was upset after the race and let it be known during his broadcast interview.
“The 48 (Johnson) is testing my patience I can tell you that,” said Gordon. “It takes a lot to make me mad and I am pissed right now. I don’t know what it is with me and him right now.”
A.J. Allmendinger threw the block to Kasey Kahne on the final lap at Pocono just two races ago. Kahne wound up in the infield grass before shooting back across traffic and triggering a multi-car pileup. Some friction between the Richard Petty Motorsports drivers was apparent with Kahne’s post-race remarks.
“I don’t talk to A.J. hardly ever. I doubt I am going to talk to him about this” Kahne said.
Red Bull Racing’s Casey Mears and Scott Speed tangled last Sunday at Michigan. Although both were running in the rear of the pack, Mears’ car loosened up while attempting to overtake Speed on the inside lane. He corrected after making contact with Speed and sent his teammate into a spin.
Speed fired off his own verbal shots at Mears, criticizing his lack of success in spite of formerly holding rides with Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing. Mears has also driven for Chip Ganassi.
The current trend is not limited to just NASCAR. Andretti Autosport Indycar driver Tony Kanaan was not happy with a blocking maneuver put on him by teammate Danica Patrick at that circuit’s recent event in Texas. And Formula One Teammates Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel crashed while battling for position at the Turkish Grand Prix two weeks ago.
The signs on the front of the race shops indicate one team on the outside. The mounting tensions displayed after the on-track action indicates some division within the camp.
The teammate and family-style relationships spoken about during well-prepared press statements have good intentions. The emotional and raw honesty shown in driver’s interviews may be giving us a glimpse of what life is really like on some teams.
Are drivers saying things they would have rather taken back? Or are we seeing the real relationships between teammates?
(Patrick Reynolds is a former NASCAR mechanic and the host of "Motorweek Live" Thursdays at 9pm ET. Listen at www.racersreunion.com )
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