Brad Keselowski's destroyed #12 Penske Racing Dodge after Carl Edwards spun him out late in the 2010 Kobalt Tools 500 as a form a payback sending the car upside down and slamming into the top of the safer barrier. Credit:

Payback in NASCAR

NASCAR has a long history of guys pushing, shoving, yelling, swearing and wrecking one another when tempers flare which is a great part of this sport. No matter what you watch, everybody loves a fight and the publicity the media gives a particular sport when it happens is pure advertising gold. I lost count of how many times I’ve seen a NASCAR commercial that included video from the Clint Bowyer/Jeff Gordon incident last November at Phoenix.

The latest pushing and shoving match came at of course, Bristol when Joey Logano’s  ex-teammate Denny Hamlin wrecked him while he was running 2nd shattering all hopes of a potential victory. Joey voiced over the radio that he was coming for Hamlin and did just that at the conclusion of the race when he paid Denny a visit at his #11 car. The FedEx crew quickly pushed Joey out of the way which got the #22 guys fired up causing the crews to go at it. Now, both gave some rather heated interviews and continued to have at it via Twitter in the hours following the event. This isn’t the first time they’ve had an issue with each other in 2013 either… Logano said that he has a scorecard and Denny is going to get what’s coming to him. I don’t know about the rest of you fans, but I personally can’t wait and I hope that he remains true to his word.

All this talk about payback and rivalries though brings up an important question, when do drivers take it to an extreme  Some say Edwards and Keselowski took it too far when Carl sent Brad flipping over on his lid at Atlanta or when he wrecked him into the wall for the win at Gateway. Others believe Gordon crossed the line when he knocked Clint Bowyer out of title contention at Phoenix while eventual champion, Brad Keselowski narrowly avoided the melee. In my opinion, directly messing with the outcome of a championship is when you cross the line from boys have at it to boys, really? I’d also rather see two drivers brawling in the garage area rather than wrecking each other and destroying race cars that they aren’t responsible for fixing. If you are simply going to spin a guy out and he receives little to no damage though, then I don’t really care. That’s why Martinsville is the perfect place to send somebody around because there is very little risk involved when the top speed is 140mph and you bring it down to 60 or 70 in the corners.

NASCAR needs a good rivalry in 2013. We have Gen-6 cars, we have Eldora, we have Danica; now all we need is two big names butting heads. The Bowyer/Gordon rivalry seems to have simmered down but I would always keep an eye on Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick. They haven’t had an incident in a while but that doesn’t mean they still don’t hate each other with a passion. Of course, Kurt Busch is NASCAR’s one man rivalry so to speak and we can always look to him for a little excitement. Lately, he has a knack for getting himself embroiled in a controversy where he is the only person involved and if you’ve listened to his radio at all in 2013…you would know that he hasn’t calmed down one bit.

What would be NASCAR’s ideal rivalry; the perfect pair that will launch NASCAR into the national spotlight for something other than a big crash or Danica Patrick for once? I’ve thought about a couple combinations that would put on a heck of a show if they ever got into it. Bobby Labonte vs. Mark Martin…now both of these guys are two of the meanest racers out there and have big tempers when raci-okay, I can’t say that with a straight face. Here are my real picks….haha Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart are my actual choices. Tony has never been shy about speaking his mind and is willing to show his frustration when you make the 3x champion mad. He threw his helmet at Matt Kenseth last year, gave an Australian racer a black eye back in 2010 and traded some serious paint with JPM in the 2009 season finale at Homestead. Kurt is well known for his bad temper and it’s not hard to get him riled up so a few sarcastic words from Tony Stewart would easily do the trick. When you push Stewart, he pushes back and Kurt isn’t one to lay down either. Two champions that aren’t afraid to mix it up going head-to-head would be an interesting story to watch unfold in 2013.

Kyle Busch has M&M’s breathing down his neck and watching his every move so I doubt we will see him get into any major issues. With that being said, Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin are my second picks. After the recent controversy when Denny took on NASCAR, I will put nothing past him when it comes to having at it. Brad Keselowski is very opinionated and doesn’t really care that some people don’t like it. He likes to win, he likes to tweet, he likes to talk and he likes his Miller Lite apparently so we can be assured that he will always be giving his honest opinion! Look no further than his post-race tirade after the wild Phoenix race last November when I’m pretty sure he used more swear words than nouns in his angry statement. We have seen how aggressive they can be on the track and I’m sure there would be some interesting interviews from both of these guys should they butt heads.

Obviously, I could go and say Dale Earnhardt Jr. vs. Danica Patrick or Jimmie Johnson vs. Jeff Gordon but I tried picking realistic ones that are likely to last and become rivalries. Remember, you don’t get a rivalry out of one incident. I’m looking for a pair that will keep it going through the whole year and possibly even beyond that. Thanks for reading and I’d appreciate hearing who you think the perfect pairing would be so feel free to comment below!


Tags: Brad Keselowski Denny Hamlin NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Tony Stewart

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