28 June 2011
Road rage sparks fireworks among drivers
Then there was the case of Juan Montoya, who did nothing to dispel the crude stereotype of "hot blooded Latin temperament" when the red mist descended late in the race. He seemed determined to work his way to the front no matter what the cost to those around him, gaining multiple positions after the final round of pit stops until on lap 97 he came up on the back of Kasey Kahne going into the turn 2 right-hander. Kahne wasn't about to let him through, and Montoya forced him off onto the grass - losing positions himself as a result.
“Montoya just drove through me at the top of the hill. That was obvious,” Kahne said. “I got hit from behind, just driving into the corner. He got mad because I beat him into turn one when he was beside me in turn 11. So he got mad and just wrecked me in 2.”
Montoya regrouped and tried to make his way back up the field again, only to come up against Brad Keselowski a few minutes later. The two of them went into turn 3 side-by-side with Kyle Busch immediately behind them, Montoya having the inside line and allowing the #42 to drift out forcing Keselowski to put two wheels onto the dirt. Keselowski took exception and sent Montoya for a spin.
"I don't take any pride in all that stuff, but at some point, you've got to run your own deal," Keselowski said. "It was pretty obvious that it was eat or be eaten, and I wasn't going to be eaten."
"We got through the corner, and I just got on his bumper a little bit and moved him a little," Montoya admitted, but said he didn't deserve to get spun in revenge. "Got a good run, and I guess he didn't like it ... he just plain and simple wrecked us." Although he recovered to the track in 12th place, "I just killed the tyres when I spun," and he ended up 22nd by the end.
Perhaps the driver with most reason to be angry about the incident was Kyle Busch, who had no where to go when Montoya and Keselowski crashed and who followed the #42 off onto the dirt for a spin. However, Kyle seems determined to lower his controversial public profile at the moment and fly under the radar, and his comments were conspicuously inconspicuous: "We were like a fourth- or fifth-place car. We had the opportunity to finish there, but unfortunately with about five to go we were involved in a few others wreck and spun out," he said as blandly as possible. "Gathered it back up and got going again, probably fell back to 15th, but salvaged an 11th out of the thing. We'll take it and go on."
Strangely, given that it was the headline bout of the weekend, the one on-track battle that generated least off-track heat was the one between Brian Vickers and Tony Stewart. Good friends off the track, they seemed to regard their altercation at Infineon with a large dose of professional distance - just one of those things that had to be done for the job, but which they took no pleasure or satisfaction in.
"I've been complaining about the way guys have been racing all year," Stewart said after propelling Vickers down into turn 11 and into a multi-car collision and spin on lap 39. "I like Brian. I'm not holding it against him at all. I don't care if it was [my team mate] Ryan Newman; I would have dumped him, too. If they want to block, that's what is going to happen to them every time for the rest of my career."
"I wasn't blocking him. That may have been his perception from where he was sitting, but the #18 went off the race track in front of me," Vickers said in response. "He was going off in the dirt and then coming back in front of me on the race track, and I was trying to avoid him ... I think when [Stewart] sees the replay and he realises why I went low - if he looks at it out of my front windshield - he'll realise it had nothing to do with him. It had to do with the #18 almost wrecking me, and a couple of other guys running slow up top."
But that didn't stop Vickers cooly setting up a revenge encounter at the same point on lap 87, barging Stewart so hard that the #14 spun backwards onto the top of the tyre wall.
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