Tempers Flare After Charlotte Race
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong
NASCAR officials stand near Brad Keselowski's car after post-race confronations between Keselowski and Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin. (Photo: Getty Images)
CONCORD, N.C. - Matt Kenseth tried to tackle Brad Keselowski in the garage, upset about contact between the two after Saturday night's race.
It was one of two incidents involving Keselowski after the race. Denny Hamlin, who finished ninth, threw a towel at Keselowski in disgust for their on-track incident.
“He's just out of control,’’ Hamlin said of Keselowski. “He's desperate.’’
Keselowski called it “car wars” with the Joe Gibbs Racing drivers and said “those guys can dish it out, but they can’t take it.’’
Keselowski and Kenseth made contact on a late restart that put Kenseth into the wall. Keselowski, who finished 16th, said Kenseth later retaliated.
“When the last yellow came out, he got the wave around and when he came by, he swung by my car and tore the whole right front off of it,’’ Keselowski said of Kenseth. “We restarted fifth with no right front on it and fell back to 16th and ruined our day.
“For some reason after the race, (Hamlin) stopped in front of me and tried to pick a fight. I don’t know what that was about. He swung and hit at my car. I figure if we’re going to play car wars under the yellow and after the race, I’m going to play, too. Those guys can dish it out, but they can’t take it. I gave it back to them and they want to fight.’’
Kenseth was upset after the race when he said on his radio that Keselowski hit his car on the cool-down lap.
“(Keselowski) wrecked (Hamlin) and then he just wrecked me,’’ Kenseth radioed his crew after the race.
Kenseth, who finished 19th, responded by running toward Keselowski in the garage and knocking him into the side of a hauler. Team members joined the scrum. ESPN’s cameras caught the scuffle and Keselowski could be heard yelling “You hit me under yellow!” repeatedly as Kenseth was pulled away by Keselowski's crew chief Paul Wolfe.
“I had my HANS off and my seat belts off and everything,’’ Kenseth said afterward. “(Keselowski) clobbered me at 50 (mph). If you want to talk about it as a man, try do that, but to try and wreck someone on the race track, come down pit road with other cars and people standing around with seat belts off and drive in the side of me. It's inexcusable. He is a champion. He is supposed to know better than that. It's just - I don't know. I don't have anything else to say.’’
Said race winner Kevin Harvick: “When you see Matt Kenseth mad enough to fight, you know that this is intense because that's way out of character for him.’’
NASCAR called Keselowski into the hauler after the race. Jesse Sanders, a member of Kenseth’s team, who was involved in the fight, also went to the hauler. Crew chief Jason Ratcliff accompanied Sanders as a representative of the team.
Hamlin admitted he brake-checked Keselowski on the cool-down lap. Tensions escalated in the garage afterward.
Asked what is likely to happen next weekend at Talladega Superspeedway in the final race of the Contender Round, Hamlin said of Keselowski: “My guess is he’ll probably try to wreck everyone because it’s his only shot. So he’ll just be out of control like normal.’’