Even though Denny Hamlin had not seen the handshake between his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch and Richard Childress Racing’s Kevin Harvick, he still had plenty to say about it.
[media-credit name=”Kirk Schroll” align=”alignright” width=”240″][/media-credit]“I would consider it genuine,” Hamlin said Thursday at Daytona. “Kyle’s just not a head games type of guy, I don’t believe. In 2008 when he was winning a lot of races I remember a race throughout the season where a lot of emphasis was being put on Kyle and different things that he was doing and I remember a lot of teams going after them as far as playing heads games and stuff. But Kyle never really responds to that, I don’t feel like.”
Harvick and his supporters would disagree. At Darlington in May, Busch hooked Harvick under a caution flag after the two raced hard a few laps before. Their actions carried over to pit road and led to NASCAR placing them on probation until June 15.
Probation or not, the two never stopped racing each other as hard as they did before. Just days before their probation period was to be over, Harvick ran Busch down the frontstretch at Pocono and said afterwards Busch knows he has one coming. Harvick sounding as though Busch started it and he was going to finish it.
It made Hamlin’s comments on Thursday particularly interesting. According to Hamlin his teammate is tough but not dirty.
“He [Busch] never really does anything on-track to instigate it. I feel like he’s one of the most fair racers really out there. Even though he’s aggressive at times, he does a pretty good job of keeping it relatively safe for other drivers. I would consider it something that is sincere.”
When asked directly about last weekend Busch said, “I felt like we had a really good race with each other. So, I just wanted to let him know that. We gave each other great room and raced each other hard and clean. And, that’s all there is to it.” Adding that those around the sport looked too much into it.
Harvick on the other hand was confused by what took place. He didn’t know where it came from and said things between he and Busch aren’t necessarily fine because they only raced each other for half a lap.
But for Hamlin, having been involved in altercations with Harvick last season, he has a different view. The two traded words and paint in the Chase at Dover after taking shots at each other’s organizations. Harvick had also previously been involved in incidents with another JGR driver, Joey Logano, making it three for three with the Gibbs team. All of which taught Hamlin a lesson.
“As far as Harvick, that’s just kind of the team make-up I believe,” said Hamlin. “Whether it’s back to the old 3 car or anything like that, that team has always kind of been in those situations. When they’re racing for championships, that’s part of their game that they play.”
Ones Hamlin fell for last season, something he acknowledges, while also saying some drivers are better at staying away from altercations than others. There are too many personalities in this sport for them all to fit on one track.
Harvick and Busch, or Childress and Busch have plenty of personality to go around. While Hamlin has nothing but praise for his teammate and his driving style, team owner Richard Childress isn’t a fan. He made that known in Kansas a few weeks ago.
In Hamlin’s mind though, the feud between the two organizations or any two drivers blow over in time. Something yet to be seen in this instance.
“A lot of times they don’t mesh well together and we saw that with the 29 and the 18 this year,” said Hamlin. “In general, everyone is going to work it out in time. Even though you consider yourself the toughest of rivals we still do a lot of things together that kind of patch that up.”