Uneasy truce between Busch and Hamlin
31 May 2010
Kyle Busch says he wasn't about to let his differences with Denny Hamlin fester.
Hamlin says he's still waiting for Busch to outgrow the drama he brings on himself.
At best, the two Joe Gibbs Racing drivers have arrived at an uneasy truce, but that doesn't mean they're beyond an occasional dig at one another.
After crashing out of last Saturday's Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Busch parked his wrecked racecar behind Hamlin's transporter and strode inside to wait for his teammate.
Team owner Joe Gibbs waited with him.
A racing incident in the final 10-lap segment of the race spurred the confrontation. As Busch powered to the outside around Turn 2 at the 1.5-mile racetrack on Lap 93 of 100, Hamlin, who was leading, moved to the outside into the line Busch had planned to run.
Busch ran out of room, hit the wall and damaged his car. Five laps later, a blown tire sent him hard into the Turn 1 wall and eliminated him from the race.
After the crash, Busch radioed to his crew, “Somebody better keep me away from Denny Hamlin. I swear to God I'm going to kill (him).”
On Friday, a calmer Busch said he was surprised Hamlin didn't give him racing room.
“It kind of surprised me the way my teammate wanted to race me, seeing as though I thought I had a great shot to win the race,” Busch said before Sprint Cup practice. “We were going after it there, and unfortunately ran out of racetrack, got in the fence and tore up a perfectly good racecar.
“Four or five laps later—whatever it was—I blew a right front and destroyed the racecar. Of course, I was heated after the incident—like I said, it surprised me, and I wouldn't have expected my teammate to race me that way—but he's the leader, he's got the racetrack, and I now understand that.”
After Hamlin arrived at the hauler, he, Busch and Gibbs discussed the issue. Busch said the incident shouldn't affect his and Hamlin's ability to work together as teammates—though Busch took issue with Hamlin's postrace assumption that Busch would have raced the same way, had the roles been reversed.
“Yeah, I feel like we can move on and work together,” Busch said. “(I'm) a little dissatisfied with his quote about how I would have done the same thing, because you can't put words in a person's mouth, and I don't feel like I would have done the same thing.
“I race with respect, and I learned from Mark Martin and those guys. I've had my bad points, but since learning from Mark Martin, Tony Stewart and those guys, I feel like I've gotten better, and even though it is an all-star race, like I said, I was surprised by the fact that happened.”
Hamlin didn't think he did anything wrong—given that the Sprint All-Star Race was a non-points event with a million-dollar first prize. Hamlin added that he and Busch can't afford to feud because they depend on each other for setup information on tracks that reflect their respective strengths—Busch on the intermediate speedways and Hamlin on the short tracks.
“I'm not going to put too much effort in it, to be honest with you,” Hamlin said Friday after Cup practice. “Kyle brings this stuff up on himself. He gets mad at the media for asking him questions about his blow-ups and stuff, and he does it to himself.
“I don't want to be part of it. Any drama that he wants to create or anything is on him. Anything he says on the radio is on him. All I'm going say—and I'm going to be done with it—is that, each year, I think Kyle's going to grow out of it, and he just doesn't. And until he puts it all together—that's when he'll become a champion. And right now, he just doesn't have himself all together.”