The Denny Hamlin/Clint Bowyer feud appears to have come out of nowhere. Better writers have covered the story, including right here, so I don’t need to delve into details. Had Denny made only one comment here or there, I wouldn’t even feel the need to comment, but it was thing he said in particular that got this writer up in flames.
On one side you have a driver, who many picked to win the NASCAR Cup title this year. On the other, you have a driver who actually won the first race of the Chase, backed by a team with decades of experience in NASCAR. The team and the teammates are what brought about the latest issue.
Maybe the problem is that Hamlin doesn’t understand how teammates actually work. When Harvick and Joey Lagano exchanged words earlier in the season, neither he nor Kyle Busch got involved. When Kyle had problems with a number of drivers in previous years, Hamlin stood idly by, twiddling his thumbs and waiting for the conversation to cycle back around to him. When he made his comments this week, perhaps he didn’t realize that Bowyer’s teammates and car owner would get involved.
That’s exactly what happened when Harvick gave him a minor bump both on Pit Road and on the track, during a practice session. Hamlin later said he knew something was coming because crew members wished him luck and made comments about the track. He then told reporters, “It's unnecessary that the team guys have to get involved in it…”
Wait a second, what? Let’s look at that again. “It's unnecessary that the team guys have to get involved in it.”
I’m sorry? Does anyone else remember the Nationwide race in Charlotte two years ago? I know I do because I was sitting on the Start/Finish line, when the checkered flag dropped. I watched his crew get into a scuffle on Pit Road with Dale Earnhardt Junior’s crew and Brad Keselowski’s crew. Hamlin and Keselowski exchanged bumps during the race, which led to an altercation after the race.
Afterwards, Hamlin made his infamous “concrete block” comment and seemingly had no problem with his crew getting involved in an incident that involved the two drivers. When the shoe’s on the other foot…
To quote Limp Bizkit, “your mouth’s writing checks that your *** can’t cash.” Maybe Hamlin expected RCR to lie down and take whatever he said. Maybe he even thought other teams would jump on his bandwagon. We’ve learned that other drivers, including his own teammates, are letting him float in the wind. No one has his back and no one is even willing to say they believe him.
What it all boils down to is a driver that’s worried about his own future. He may have the points lead now, but Harvick had it for weeks and he’s not that far removed from it now. If he truly wants, “to just keep focused on trying to win a championship,” then why all the comments now? Focus on your own driving and keep your mouth closed when it comes to others.
Can anyone see him doing this if Dale Earnhardt was still alive and racing? Dale would put him in the wall and close the case on the story. You would think that a younger driver would have more respect to the ones who came before him and the teams that helped make NASCAR what it is today. Then again, what do you expect from someone who brought Paris Hilton to a track?