TBO.com: Tampa Bay Online, The Tampa Tribune and The Tampa Times - breaking news and weather.
Thursday, Oct 02, 2014
Auto Racing

Dust still settling from Sonoma scrapes

The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 20, 2013 at 02:48 PM
DAYTONA BEACH -

It was just a handshake between a pair of rivals on a day in which most of the drivers were mad at somebody.

But the gesture of goodwill from Kyle Busch toward Kevin Harvick certainly made news across the Sprint Cup Series garage.

The two don't like each other, tangled after a race in May that earned them each a $25,000 fine, and were warned by NASCAR last month to stop messing with each other on the race track.

So after all the post-race sniping Sunday at Sonoma between drivers who had been involved in on-track incidents, it was strange to see Busch and Harvick acting buddy-buddy.

"I felt like we had a really good race with each other, so, just wanted to let him know that," Busch said Thursday at Daytona International Speedway. "We gave each other great room and raced each other hard and clean. And that's all there is to it."

Maybe so, but the unexpected handshake left Harvick a bit perplexed.

"I mean, we raced together for a lap and a half," Harvick said. "I was as confused about all that as everybody else."

Was it enough to patch things up between the two drivers?

"I wouldn't call it good to go on that," Harvick said.

It was at least good on one day, though, and that day happened to be one in which the list of angry drivers might have been as long as the race track.

Kasey Kahne was mad at Juan Pablo Montoya, and Montoya said Thursday although he was OK with Brad Keselowski, his wife was pretty angry at the Penske Racing driver. Joey Logano and Robby Gordon played another round of bumper cars, and Brian Vickers exacted revenge on Tony Stewart by intentionally wrecking him as retaliation for Stewart bumping him earlier.

Whether there's any carry-over Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway remains to be seen.

"Does it carry over into the next week? It's always there," Sonoma winner Kurt Busch said. "Drivers never forget."

That could make it interesting at Daytona, where the new style of restrictor-plate racing requires drivers to have a drafting partner. Two-car tandems is the new norm at Daytona and Talladega, and drivers don't have a chance at the victory if they don't find a drafting partner they can trust.

In an ideal world, drivers will work only with drivers they like. But nothing is ideal at Daytona, and it's possible that two feuding drivers could hook up on the track.

"It seems like each year that you go to those restrictor-plate races that you have your friends that you're going to draft with and then you have those guys that you've had some run-ins with that you don't necessarily want to draft with," Kurt Busch said. "But what ends up happening in this two-car draft scenario is wherever you come out on pit road after a pit stop, and if you haven't teamed up with someone, you might end up drafting with someone that might be on that list that you don't like."

Jeff Gordon, who finished second at Sonoma, said drivers are trying to figure out who to draft with long before Saturday night's race.

"I'm sure there's already been calls being made because a lot of times you have your drafting partner set up from maybe Talladega or maybe earlier in Daytona, and if you made that guy angry on Sunday at Sonoma, it's going to make that phone call a little tougher," Gordon said.

Gordon, who had a clean race at Sonoma, said he already has set it up to work with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Mark Martin.

Harvick likely will work with his Richard Childress Racing teammates. But should he find himself forced to work with Kyle Busch, at least one driver thinks Harvick will be fine.

"I would consider (the handshake) genuine," said Denny Hamlin, Busch's teammate. "Kyle is just not a 'head games' type of guy, I don't believe."

COKE ZERO 400

Sprint Cup Series at Daytona International Speedway

Saturday: 7:30 p.m.; TV: TNT

Subscribe to The Tampa Tribune

Comments