CONCORD, N.C. (AP) - If Brad Keselowski is trying to play mind games with Kyle Busch in an effort to derail Busch’s championship chances, Joe Gibbs doesn’t believe his driver can be rattled on the race track.
An ongoing feud between Busch and Keselowski flared last week when contact between the two in a Nationwide Series race at Kansas caused Keselowski to spin. Keselowski, the defending Sprint Cup Series champion, has indicated he’ll retaliate in a Cup race because only Busch is racing for the title this year.
Gibbs said before Saturday night’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway he tries not to get involved in driver feuds.
“I’ve always had the opinion what happens on the race track, drivers handle that,” he said. “Obviously, you are there to support or talk to them, but it’s pretty much up to the drivers.”
But if Keselowski’s intent is to get under Busch’s skin, Gibbs doesn’t believe it will work. Keselowski ran toward Busch’s pit crew, pointing, after the Kansas spin, and the two have continued to trade barbs through media outlets.
“I think Kyle is an awful, awful good race car driver. If you watch his personality, I don’t think he’s afraid of many situations,” Gibbs said. “I think he handles it pretty good. I’ve never seen him back off of anything, I’ll put it that way.”
Roger Penske, Keselowski’s team owner, thinks it’s much ado about nothing.
“I don’t think we get anywhere by taking anybody out,” Penske said. “There’s always a lot of talk after these things. As far as I’m concerned, it was unfortunate what happened to us because it cost us points, but I’m going to let those guys work it out on the race track.”
Joe Gibbs Racing and Penske Racing are racing for the Nationwide Series owner’s championship. The accident at Kansas cut the Penske lead to five points, and Busch’s win Friday night at Charlotte put JGR up by four points with three races remaining.
Gibbs noted that Keselowski should race Busch the same way Busch raced Keselowski last year during the Chase. The two first tangled at Watkins Glen when Keselowski spun Busch, and Busch never retaliated as Keselowski went on to win the Sprint Cup title.
Now Busch is in the Chase, Keselowski is not, and Gibbs believes Keselowski should race his driver clean.
“I think what happens when you stop and think about it, in almost every incident, there was an incident before that that probably had an effect,” Gibbs said. “For instance, we are at Watkins Glen, we’ve got one lap to go, we’re going to be in the Chase, that was a huge race for us, and hey, Brad hit Kyle from behind. Kyle, as bitter as that was, Kyle went the rest of the way and did not retaliate. So hopefully, you’ve got this incident, and you’d hope they’d wind up being in a similar situation now that the shoe is on the other foot.”
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