Brad Keselowski Should "Be Worried Whenever I'm Around," Says Denny Hamlin
Say hello to what could be the next big rivalry in NASCAR.
The timing is perfect, since Kyle Busch is running away with the Nationwide Series championship and Jimmie Johnson doesn't look like he will be stopped from taking home a fourth Sprint Cup.
Fans have something else to focus on.
After Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin made contact last weekend at Dover in a Nationwide Series race—Keselowski spun Hamlin out and Hamlin was none too happy—it continued the hatred that exists between the JR Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing teams.
Hamlin went to confront Keselowski on pit road, which resulted with crew guys getting involved and words being exchanged.
Keselowski said that Hamlin came down on him and that he was trying to take advantage of the Michigan native. He then stated that he wasn't going to be pushed around by anyone, Cup or Nationwide driver.
Hamlin responded in the motor home lot by calling the young star an "idiot" and said that he needed guidance on how to race. Hamlin even took it a step further and said that soon people would realize that Keselowksi isn't that good.
When the two arrived in Kansas on Friday, words continued to fly and the next chapter of the Keselowski/Hamlin history was written.
"I still see it the same way," Hamlin told the media. "I still don't agree with him, and he hasn't called me to reach out to say he's sorry. So as far as I'm concerned, he needs to be worried whenever I'm around."
Keselowski, of course, didn't see it that way and stuck by his words from last week; he races people how they race him.
"I didn't know I was supposed to call him, I thought he was going to call me," Keselowski responded to Hamlin's thoughts. "It got crossed, huh? I guess it should get uncrossed. This is what makes racing awesome, otherwise it's just cars going in circles. You've got to have some human drama."
He continued by saying, "As for how I am going to race around him? No differently than I have raced around him before. He's another race car driver, and that's how I see him. I race him like he races me ... and the situation just evolved into what it is based on how he's raced me."
Hamlin isn't entered in Saturday's Nationwide race, but Keselowski is entered in Sunday's Sprint Cup race. He qualified third and Hamlin will have to chase him from the 22nd position if he wants to exact revenge.
That's something that Keselowski isn't worried about.
"Mentally, I'm tough enough that whatever words he has to say, it doesn't bother me, doesn't faze me."
These two drivers have tangled before and the more they do so, the more hope it gives NASCAR fans that they'll finally get a good rivalry they've so longed for. One that won't flame out before it even gets good.
Last year, during a Nationwide race at the Lowe's Motor Speedway, Hamlin just like at Dover, wasn't too happy with how Keselowski was racing him. During a caution period Keselowski rode up alongside Hamlin's car, which Hamlin then swung to the right and tore the left front fender of Keselowski's car off.
Behind the two drivers at the time was Keselowski's team owner, Dale Earnhardt Jr., who witnessed his car being damaged and went up and bumped Hamlin's rear bumper to send a message.
After the race was over, once again the two teams came together on pit road, words, shoves and penalties, only to Keselowski's team, were handed out.
That incident from Charlotte last year is still on Keselowski's mind.
"I don't wish to have any conflict in the garage," he said. "Nobody likes to have an open conflict out there, but to be honest, it was never really settled after Charlotte in my mind. As far as it being unsettled in my mind, I'm just going to take a page from the Jimmie Johnson book: Mental toughness is what wins races and wins championships."
Hamlin will have no impact on Keselowski's Nationwide title chances this Saturday, but Keselowski could play a role in Hamlin's Chase hopes Sunday if the two tangle again.
If they do, NASCAR fans most likely wouldn't be disappointed.
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