The vanilla ice cream is drizzled in chocolate syrup. Some white bread is toasted and covered with cinnamon and powdered sugar. A pair of Cup drivers forgot about political correctness and let the attitudes and emotions fly at Dover.
Clint Bowyer’s car was found to be out of tolerance in a NASCAR inspection following his New Hampshire win. He was hit with a steep penalty.
At the past weekend’s race Denny Hamlin called out Bowyer and Richard Childress Racing for building illegal cars. RCR drivers Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick did not take kindly to Hamlin’s comments. Harvick physically let his displeasure known.
Driving out of the garage area onto the speedway for practice, Harvick ran into the back of Hamlin’s car at a lower speed before they accelerated. The agitated driver then pulled alongside Hamlin’s right side and cut down to the left on a banked corner. Some damage resulted.
There was a heated exchange of words and gestures in the garage area between drivers and crewmembers. The machines were even garaged next to one another. The perfect storm.
If you are looking for uptight professional and polished behavior the mark was missed. If you happen to be a freelance writer and host a radio show, then it was gold material.
This is the type of fire the sport has been missing. Agree or disagree with whomever you please. Pick a side. But it is a good story with some spice.
RCR built equipment that pushed NASCAR boundaries. Good. Hamlin spoke his mind and didn’t hold back or care if he upset somebody. Nice. Harvick got pissed and ruined Hamlin’s and his own practice but let his feelings known in an original and exciting way. Excellent.
Without Bowyer’s penalty, Hamlin’s remarks, or Harvick’s outrage what would we be talking or writing about?
I will tell you: the Jimmie Johnson juggernaut that has started to play out true to form. This is the time when that particular Hendrick car plays the Chase game better than anyone else is. I have lost track of how many complaints I have heard and fans that have been turned off by team 48. No disrespect to how good and successful they are, just a fact. Five straight titles would be another amazing accomplishment, but maybe not a popular one, at least with the current generation.
An ongoing Harvick/Hamlin feud involving entire teams would be like turning the history books back a few pages. I am reminded of Geoff Bodine and Dale Earnhardt. Or Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip. These rivalries were good stuff that was a continuing chapter every week on the speedway, in the garage area, and back to the shops during the week. Lines were drawn, loyalties decided and tension was an underlying subplot when the green flag waved.
This type of thing wasn’t diffused following the pushing and yelling. It was just beginning. And it was good.
Here’s to Richard Childress Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing. Have at it boys.
(Patrick Reynolds is a former NASCAR mechanic who hosts “Motorweek Live” Thursdays at 9pm ET. Bobby Allison joins this week’s program on www.racersreunionradio.com)