When Carl Edwards took revenge on Brad Keselowski near the end of last Sunday's Sprint Cup race in Atlanta, it did more than just wreck Keselowski's #12 Dodge. It also gave pundits and fans of the sport a lot to talk about during the first open week in the schedule.
NASCAR may have quashed the feud between Edwards and Keselowski, but that doesn't mean there's not bad blood elsewhere in the garage. Though Denny Hamlin turned Keselowski in the 2009 Nationwide Series season finale at Homestead - and ostensibly settled the score from a week earlier in Phoenix - it's clear that he still bears animosity toward his rival.
Hamlin wrote on his Twitter account that he was dining out on Thursday night and, by coincidence, was seated two tables away from Keselowski, whom he referred to as 'Brad Crashalotski'. Keselowski apparently sent a bottle of wine to Hamlin's table, causing Hamlin to relent.
"Okay, okay... I'll take it back," Hamlin wrote, "He just bought us a bottle of wine."
For his part, Keselowski said the gesture won't affect the way he races Hamlin.
"Saw Denny at dinner last night," Keselowski wrote on his
Twitter account on Friday morning, "Sent over a bottle of wine. Don't be confused. Still going to race him hard."
If there's a revenge play at Bristol, however, don't expect NASCAR to show the same degree of leniency toward the next offender that they showed to Edwards. As important as what Edwards did at Atlanta was who the protagonists were.
Rightly or wrongly, the general sentiment in the Cup garage was that Keselowski had it coming, based primarily on the aggression he showed last year. In letting Edwards take on the vigilante role for the entire garage, NASCAR, as much as anything else, was sending a pointed message to Keselowski.
Here's a guarantee, though. The next deliberate retaliatory act on the track - particularly if it's taken against a veteran who already has earned respect - won't be greeted with a three-race probation.
by Reid Spencer / Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service