Brad Keselowski continues to take a verbal beating following his actions at Charlotte
TALLADEGA, Ala. – There’s clearly no love lost between Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski.
After the two tangled at Charlotte Motor Speedway – on the track and off – Kenseth fired further warning shots at his fellow former NASCAR champion during his media availability on Friday.
“Last week was bad enough to run bad all night and to be frustrated and then get two tires and get towards the front and Brad clearly saw me roll outside of him and he hung a right on purpose and ran me right into the wall and ruined my night and possibly took us out of Chase contention,” Kenseth said.
“So, I was mad enough about that and then to come down afterwards and have your stuff off and your net down and come and pull those high school stunts playing car wars after the race was just absolutely unacceptable.”
Upping the ante
Keselowski says the new Chase format forces drivers to race “more aggressively” particularly with the championship on the line.
You are less worried about friends and enemies and focused on that night and that night is all that matters.
“There is no doubt about it,” Keselowski said. “You are less worried about friends and enemies and focused on that night and that night is all that matters.”
Kenseth, who considers himself non-confrontational, does not regret any of his actions from Saturday night. Whether it was the nudge he gave the No. 2 Ford during the wave around or wrestling him between the Team Penske trailers in the garage afterward. But Kenseth wasn’t going to allow Keselowski to bully him on the track or on pit road where the Joe Gibbs driver accused him of “using a car for a weapon”.
I'm definitely not built for fighting and it's not really in my genes.
"I'm definitely not built for fighting and it's not really in my genes -- not something I ever really want to do, but I guess everybody has their breaking point,” Kenseth said.
“That definitely put me over the edge. I don't regret my actions. I'm not proud of them or happy about them or any of that, but I don't regret them. I don't know that I would do anything different if the same thing went down again."
Sticks and stones
Keselowski wasn’t going to engage in a word war with Kenseth. Nor was he “ready” to discuss whether there was any remorse for his actions on Saturday or when or if he will discuss the situation with Kenseth.
“I haven’t put a lot of thought into it to be honest,” Keselowski said. “It is a huge weekend for me and our team where we have to really pull out a clutch moment and I don’t want to lose sight of that by spending a whole bunch of time on that other garbage.
“I am not going to say I haven’t spent any time on it but I didn’t spend enough to really have all my thoughts and feelings put together enough to share it with you guys.”
Over the top
Certainly, with Kenseth in a precarious position entering Charlotte and knowing what a crapshoot Talladega can be, he was looking for a solid finish last weekend. Instead, he dropped from eighth to ninth in the point standings and added 15 points to the deficit between the No. 20 car and points leader Joey Logano.
When asked whether the timing of the situation escalated his ire, Kenseth acknowledged where the point standings were concerned, yes. However, when Keselowski crossed the safety barrier, his frustration reached a different level.
It's ridiculous to get hurt after a race is over by somebody acting like a little kid using a car for a weapon.
"Obviously I was probably more upset about getting ran into the wall than I would have maybe been on week two of the season,” Kenseth said. “There's probably a little bit there and some of that is from frustration from the season of not running to our potential and being taken out of a Chase race.
“The stuff afterwards of getting hit after the race, my reaction to that was besides taking my stuff off and thinking it's ridiculous to get hurt after a race is over by somebody acting like a little kid using a car for a weapon.
“I thought that was ridiculous, but that's the second time he's done that this year just to me. After the Richmond race he came and wiped us out down in turn two and then came down pit road and took another slug at me and knocked the side off our car. Besides people having to pay for them and work on them and all that stuff, it's just not acceptable."
Turning the page
Denny Hamlin, who felt Keselowski’s wrath earlier in his career and again on Saturday night, shared Kenseth’s sentiment. Although Hamlin said there had been "discussion - quite a bit" with Keselowski, he elected not to go into detail on Friday.
I think Brad knows where I stand and where the other drivers stand on how he's been.
"Brad's obviously a great talent and I think that Brad really has taken leaps and bounds over where he was when we had our incidents and I think that was 2008 or 2009,” Hamlin said. “I think he's changed as a person and a driver all for the better.
“I thought that last week was a bit of a step back for that, but we all have bad weeks and you go through it and you have to just move on. I think Brad knows where I stand and where the other drivers stand on how he's been."
With Kenseth and other Cup competitors piling on Keselowski, is he concerned about his reputation?
“That is always important within the garage but I think you have to temper that with the knowledge that when are successful, you are a target,” Keselowski said. “That isn’t just me, that’s everyone.”