Cup Notes: Busch-Hamlin Feud Flares Anew
By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer
Concord, N.C. – The leftovers from the feud ignited near the conclusion of Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star race between Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin spilled over into the Charlotte Motor Speedway media center on Thursday.
During separate press conferences, Busch and Hamlin took shots at one another over the well-chronicled incident that resulted in Busch tagging the wall exiting Turn 2 during the final 10 lap segment in the event.
As he exited the track and drove to Hamlin’s hauler Saturday evening, an angry Busch radioed to his crew that they should be prepared to hold him back because he was ready to “kill” his teammate.
“Do I regret saying what I said over the radio? Absolutely not,” Busch said. “It was the heat of the moment, that’s who I am, that’s my expression and I’m not going to be sorry for what I say.
“I think it’s a freedom of speech and I was frustrated. It was a saying that is said a lot and take it for what it’s worth. You can take it out of context and use it as seriously as you want. It wasn’t joking, but it wasn’t going to happen.”
Hamlin, meanwhile, said he was stunned that Busch accused him of taking away his line.
“He has a gas pedal and brake just like I do,” Hamlin said. “He could choose to check up or put his car in the fence like he did.
“I didn’t wreck him. He just didn’t let up.”
Contending Kurt: Kurt Busch’s victory in Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star race served noticed that he will be a contender to win this year’s Sprint Cup title. That fact didn’t go unnoticed by four-time defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.
“Even last year, I felt like (Busch) is somebody we really need to be focused on for the championship,” Johnson said. “And I still feel that way. They’ve been plenty fast at some tracks and off at others. And as they get more time together, they’re going to be strong at every track they go to.
“Kurt does things on the track that proves why he’s a champion and why he wins races. He’s a very good talent. At times, it can get a little heated and that might attract some things inside the team or the decisions he makes on the track.
“But he knows what he’s doing out there and does a damn good job. So I’m not surprised to see him when and I won’t be surprised to see him in the Chase.”
Revved Up: Even with the implementation of the free pass, wave around and multiple green-white-checkered finishes, 51-year-old Mark Martin insists that the tempo in the longest race of the Cup season, Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, will be fast and furious.
“It is an endurance race, but it is quite different than it was in the ‘80s,” said Martin, a four-time winner at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “In the ‘80s, you paced your equipment. You paced yourself. You paced everything. You don’t pace yourself or your equipment anymore based on the evolution of the equipment, the teams and everything else.
“It is still an endurance race, but it’s actually much easier to conquer today. Back in the day, it was a challenge to make it run that long.”
– Jeff Hood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.orgOne Comment