I wrote my column today about Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin, who are still getting along as teammates for Joe Gibbs Racing about as well as oil and vinegar despite the peacemaking efforts of Gibbs.
My take today is that Busch is good for the sport of NASCAR, which has always needed talented villains and now has one who happily fulfills the role.
It is an interesting dynamic, though, that these two are not only unhappy with each other -- ostensibly because of NASCAR's all-star race last Saturday night, but I would guess it goes a lot further back than that -- but that they have to work together.
This quote from Hamlin Thursday was particularly telling as to the nature of their relationship, I thought. Hamlin said he wasn't going to put a lot of "effort" into trying to rebuild their relationship, then said of Busch: "
"Kyle brings this stuff on himself. I don’t want to be a part of it. Any drama he wants to create – it’s on him. Anything he says on the radio – it’s on him. … Each year I think Kyle is going to grow out of it, and each year he doesn’t. Until he puts it all together, that’s when he’ll become a champion. Right now, he just doesn’t have himself all together."
Can you imagine, say, one Panther teammate ripping another in the same way? I know Steve Smith once punched Ken Lucas -- it's not like everything is all hunky-dory in any sport -- but that sort of candor is pretty rare when a guy has time to think about what he's going to say, walks into an interview room and then blisters his teammate.
Interesting stuff. Also interesting: Hamlin will start directly behind Busch in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600. If he was truly furious with him, he could push Busch directly into the wall on that first turn. He would never do that, though... would he?
Lots to look for as Panthers start OTAs
15 hours ago