The Frontstretch: Petty Pulling No Punches Plus Hamlin Having No Humility Equals A Draw by Thomas Bowles -- Sunday September 23, 2007

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Petty Pulling No Punches Plus Hamlin Having No Humility Equals A Draw

Bowles-Eye View · Thomas Bowles · Sunday September 23, 2007


When you're a kid, you're always taught that two wrongs don't make a right. It's a simple enough theory, and certainly nothing new; there's plenty of examples that play out upon the public stage each day that prove its worth.

Too bad Kyle Petty and Denny Hamlin chose to contribute to that growing pile of regrettable actions rather than take the high road. Although if one thing was clear after a wild Sunday at Dover, it was that the two couldn't avoid each other off the track or on it; as a result, they had no one to blame but themselves for causing a vicious wreck that left both drivers on the sidelines, their goals for the season thrown from feasible to far-fetched in the matter of five tenths of a second of contact.

It's amazing how something as simple as a bunch of mangled sheet metal can bring out the worst in people. As Kyle Petty took down the window net of Denny Hamlin's car, some 10 laps after both had their wrecked race cars taken to the garage, most reacted with shock and surprise at the way in which one of NASCAR's most respected legends got busy…well, getting ready to kick some tail. With any number of nasty expletives followed by a not-so-nice smack on the helmet, Petty proved that charity work and all-around goodwill is never a cure-all when it comes to eliminating such basic emotions as anger and frustration.

"We were a little bit loose. I guess it's my fault. I watched the Busch race yesterday and I knew Denny (Hamlin) was sick," said a disgruntled Kyle, laps down when he found himself hit from behind by the front-running Hamlin on Sunday afternoon. "I just didn't know he was hallucinating and needed three lanes to get up off the corner… because he ran all over us. I guess he is in a race by himself."

Hamlin's response to Petty's aggression was pretty much what anyone would do when smacked across the head in the helmet … he fought back. Errr, make that he tried to. Going from being perched in the seat of his car to prancing about the garage in virtually no time flat, it took about six or seven crew members from the No. 11 team for one of NASCAR's newest superstars to keep from putting his hands on Petty.

"Don’t smack me on the helmet," Denny said later, referring to the final straw in the argument that really ticked him off. "You smack me on the helmet and I’m going to punch you in the face, bottom line."

In all reality, both drivers had reason to punch each other out. Television replays showed that Hamlin plowed into the back of Petty's No. 45, starting the wreck that took out both cars and severely damaged the No. 07 of Clint Bowyer behind them. Regardless of how Hamlin feels the accident started, the bottom line is that he was the one rear-ending the vehicle in front of him, and anyone who's been in a basic accident on the road of real life can tell you who's faulted in those situations - the guy who got in the back of you.

Of course, he doesn't see it that way.

"You’ve got a car two seconds off the pace or whatever it may be," said Hamlin.

"The biggest thing is that I know Kyle (Petty) gets run over a lot, and a lot of the reason is that he’s so far off the pace."

Now, Hamlin does have a point to a certain degree. The No. 45 car has fallen into the danger zone with the Top 35 in owner points simply because of Petty's performances as of late. Since getting back into the car following a six-race stint announcing for TNT, he hasn't finished better than 25th, racking up two DNFs and four finishes of 34th or worse to plummet down the standings. Meanwhile, teammate Bobby Labonte's been on a roll, with recent Top 10 finishes once again casting the spotlight on how the No. 43 team always shows so much potential - and the No. 45 falls short. Truth be told, if Petty was in any other organization he wouldn't have kept his ride the last few years; going over twelve years without a victory will do a lot to hurt the resume. It's not that Petty has lost his role model image; it just has nothing to do with his performance on the track. And when you're not performing under green…your future in the driver's seat should always be put under yellow flag conditions.

However, Petty is still driving, like it or not, and despite being four laps down had as much right to the race track as anyone else. That's what makes Hamlin's further retort following the confrontation a little disconcerting:

"Yeah, I think a lot of it was his frustration over this whole Top 35 thing," he said, "But we’re racing for bigger and better things. Hopefully, one day, if they get it turned around, I can exchange the favor. But right now, we’re the guys racing for the championship, so you know, heed a little bit.”

Hmm…heed? I guess whoever plays the New York Mets this week should just not show up; the Mets are the ones in playoff contention, so the division should simply be heeded to them. I guess Mark Martin should have dropped off the pace with 5 laps to go Sunday and heeded to Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart…they're in the championship Chase, you know, and they could have used the extra spot.

You get the point. Hamlin can't expect all 42 cars to move out of the way for him, any more than Kyle Petty can expect Hamlin not to react negatively when he pulls down a window net, starts pointing fingers, and all but challenges the kid to a fight. It's certainly high drama and entertainment that takes you back to the olden days of NASCAR, don't get me wrong; but while everyone else is laughing and talking at the water cooler today, the incident hardly did either one any favors. Hamlin's championship hopes are all but dead - he's 158 back of the lead with eight races left - and Petty's team now looms just 106 points ahead of the No. 22 team which sits 36th in owner points.

"It's a shame that a guy with that much talent has to drive like that," said Petty of the whole scenario.

No, Kyle; it's an even bigger shame both your reputations took a hit for an accident that was easily avoidable. You'd expect this type of behavior from a Robby Gordon or a Tony Stewart, perhaps; but not from these two.

Not with so much on the line.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…


©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

09/24/2007 05:03 AM

You’re making a big deal over nothing. People whine because the driver’s emotion has seemingly been wrung out of them by the political correctness police. Now that a couple do show that they actually have balls, they are chastised for it. Can’t have it both ways.

I liked it. Reminded me of the good ol’ days.

Place you bets! The young gun, moon-faced youngster vs. the veteran, marathon runner.

09/24/2007 06:09 AM

Today I have less respect for Denny and more for Kyle. I will never understand why the big shots in NASCAR believe it’s ok to plow into the back of someone and then blame the person in front. The throttle works both directions.

09/24/2007 06:22 AM

Just goes to show you what happens when NA$CAR allows these young punks with no experience into the sport based solely on the multi dollars brought into the sport.

Annie Mack
09/24/2007 07:06 AM

I’m not a Denny Hamlin fan, but Kyle entered Denny’s garage area and did hit him, albeit on the helmet. Where’s the fine?

Steve M.
09/24/2007 07:20 AM

Annie, you and I are on the same page. After Jeff Godon was penalized for his “frustration” with Matt Kenseth, NASCAR hasn’t been following their own rules (no surprise there). Harvick and Montoya get into on the track, both of whom were already on probation, and nothing happens to either one. Petty enters Hamlin’s garage, does a little smack of his own, and it’s doubtful that anything will come of it. If NASCAR can’t keep the same rules for everyone then they should officially state that unless the helmets are off and the fists are flying, then no penalties will be given for “slaps and pushes”. It just really bothers me that NASCAR more likely than not will ignore what happened between these two drivers.

09/24/2007 07:24 AM

If Denny Hamlin wants to SOME day be a champion cup driver he needs to start acting like one. The rest of the drivers don’t owe him a thing. He’s like a lot of the young ones that come up and have a little luck and think they are suddenly on the level as the rest that have driven for years. He has to learn to pay his dues. Hope he does before he gets into REAL trouble.

Ed E
09/24/2007 07:24 AM

This shows Kyle Petty has got the fire back in his belly he lost on that day.He’s not happy with just riding a round anymore.May be not the best way to show it.So lets hope P.E. steps for there driver/owners new found drive to win or not wanting to just drive around and around getting in the way of faster cars.

09/24/2007 07:41 AM

What this really shows is that the producer of these awfull
race broadcasts is more interested in hyping arguments than showing us the race . Something happens on track and he stations cameras and crews to get shots of the potential fight , meanwhile managing to miss restarts and not even showing many of the cars and drivers in each race . If we had not seen or even heard about the incident in the garage , none of us would be the worse for it .He needs to pay a lot more attention to covering what really matters , the racing.

09/24/2007 07:53 AM

Someone please define “paying dues.” It’s the most ridiculous term ever coined. If you are good, get up front. Denny is awesome and I can never watch Kyle Petty without a sense of pity…he’s an accident or breakdown waiting to happen…like that flashing orange care from F-Zero on the SNES. I am more of a Denny Hamlin fan after this weekend – and this is coming from a Gordon fan…Gordon, from whom Denny seems to have tasted blood on a number of occasions…

not'a'fan of either
09/24/2007 07:53 AM

It’s funny how everyone blamed Denny when Tony plowed into him, not they blame Denny with he plows into Kyle. Bottom line, both drivers are to blame, Kyle should have moved up like he did for the first 5, and Denny should have allowed for a car so far off the pace. And NA$CAR should be dropping a fine on Kyle, can’t go into another mans garage and smack him without expecting a fine or a smack back. It just shouldn’t be done. I do have less respect for Kyle today, it looked like Denny was just going to accept the dribble, but then Kyle had to smack at his helmet. Had that not been done this would just be media spew as normal.

kp fan
09/24/2007 08:26 AM

First off, KP slapped his visor down, don’t go saying he hit the guys helmet. That’s quite the exageration. Next, after KP slapped the visor, he still was saying something to Denny and DH didn’t say anything. It wasn’t until 10 seconds after KP walked away and was leaving the garage, that Denny actually got out of his car, (quite a delay) and acted like a tough guy. Btw, you don’t believe me? Go to and watch the video.

I know most don’t follow KP like I do, but the fact is, when Kyle is a lap or more down, and there isn’t a chance for him to get back on the lead lap, he moves over for leaders.

With that being said, it is kind of tough to do that in the part of the track they were in yesterday. Had DH not been a punk, he could have waited until they got to the straightaway and KP would have let him go.

Oh, if you ever get the chance to, listen to KP on the scanner. Trust me, the fire still burns, just listen to him, he definitely does not like driving around the back. PE needs to step it up.

09/24/2007 09:02 AM

It’s too bad for Kyle. Clearly, he needs to get out of the seat. Bobby Labonte manages to run top 15 in PE equipment which in my opinion is a flat out miracle. Yet, Kyle just can’t even be competitive at all. But Hamlin is a punk and Kyle’s right about that.

09/24/2007 09:44 AM

Well Denny even said he asked for KP to come talk to him so denny needs to think before he talks and he needs to watch out on the track he’s not the only one out there and if he expects everyone to just let him by because hes in the chase then he needs to learn a few things about racing.Go KP!

09/24/2007 10:41 AM

Kyle has more class in his little finger than Hamlin has in his entire body.As soon as he became successful he started developing J.Gordons mentality that everyone is supposed to get out of his way when he is catching them.Nascar should find out what kind of medication any driver is on when they are knowingly driving sick.

09/24/2007 10:54 AM

Although I am a fan of Denny I would have liked to see him display more patience and not bring up he is running for a championship so others should heed. Having said that it is time for NASCAR to throw a black flag on Kyles career. This will prevent them from having to do so every week for being off the pace. He is consistantly an accident waiting to happen. He does a lot of great things and should continue on with that but driving with these guys isnt one of them.

Joe Branham
09/24/2007 12:11 PM

kp does not need to get out of his car.he has a couple of top 10s this year. when he has a good run does he get any respect or tv time for his sponsors? no all any body talks about from jan. to richmond is the frickin chase. thenall they talk about is the frickin chase. go pe.

09/24/2007 01:39 PM

Denny hallucinating! thats the funniest thing i’ve heard in years!

09/24/2007 03:11 PM

Get those gol dang cameras outta there!!
I don’t want to see a hissy fit from “one of those racing deals” or hear about more “fines and penalties” because “they know drama”. UGH! I miss good ol fashion racing.

Mick Chamberlain
09/24/2007 04:03 PM

Those who are whining about this have got to be new fans to NASCAR! I’m tired of political correct behavior. Everything is one big advertisment these days. As for Hamlin, he has learned well from Stewart, it is always someone elses fault! Grow up you crybaby!

Mitch Mitchell
09/24/2007 05:08 PM

I am a Denny Hamlin fan and yes, the wreck was his fault, just like the Daytona wreck was Stewart’s fault. Kyle Petty had no business in the 11 garage area and Hamlin’s reactions and comments following Kyle’s actions were both predictable and definitely not surprising. Had Kyle just stayed in his garage area, as he should have, Denny probably would have chosen a much different response when interviewed after the race. In fact, he may have even appologized to Petty but, that all went out the window both literally and figuratively when Petty slapped Hamlin’s helmet. What would you have done, just sit there and take it? Hey Kyle, you wreck every other week, what’s the big deal on this particular occasion? Did you finally have one that you knew you weren’t to blame for?

Brian France Sucks
09/24/2007 08:37 PM

I find it very amusing that people are making a huge deal out of this. This was not Cale and Donnie; hell, this was like Donnie and Marie (as in Osmond). No punches, just a bunch of whining and posing for the camera. WWE antics at their finest. These guys went to the Kevin Harvick/Jeff Gordon school of confrontation. Too bad NA$CAR would probably come down on the guys to uphold their wholesome “family” image. I didn’t know family values included throwing helmets and dropping F-bombs, ha,ha. Let them fight and get it over.

09/24/2007 10:04 PM

Before you all start whining and moaning over no fine, remember that NASCAR hands down fines on Tuesdays. And why should Kyle be fined? Montoya wasn’t fined for shoving Kevin Harvick.

I’m glad Kyle had the nerve to stand up to Denny Hamlin. Just because Denny is in the Chase does not mean that Kyle has to kiss his butt. Denny needs to learn some patience. All of the other lead cars managed to get by Kyle without feeling the need to wreck him. Denny can claim all he wants that he never said a word to Kyle, but I find it hard to believe. I don’t see Kyle slapping his visor down for no reason.

As for Denny saying he should have gone for Kyle’s throat, I’d have loved to see him be stupid enough to try it. Kyle may be older than Denny, but I would have loved to seen the look on Hamlin’s face when Kyle fought back.

Lee haas
09/25/2007 08:58 AM

I wish the officials had let Hamlin go. It would have been funny to see the reaction when he hit the floor!!

Race Fan
09/25/2007 11:30 AM

I’m a fan of neither driver but I don’t blame Petty for what he did. Denny Hamlin is very talented but I think his head is starting to get very big after his initial success in the Cup series. He seems to have quickly forgotten that just a few years ago he was sitting in the stands at Cup races instead of participating in them. I was disappointed by his comments regarding Kyle Petty getting run over, etc. Joe Gibbs racing has great equipment and for Hamlin, a “bad” car usually still means a Top 15. The entitlement mentality is truly amazing with some of these drivers. Yes, Denny has accomplished quite a bit in his short NASCAR career, but he has a ways to go before he can justify his comments. Kyle Petty was winning races while Denny was still playing with Matchbox cars.

09/25/2007 02:27 PM

I would assume several days later Denny would have approached things differently. We live about 10 minutes from him and people seem to think he is a good kid. People around racing seem to think he is a good guy as well. Having good equipment has helped him rise as fast as he has obviously. The underlining issue is that KP should not be on the track. His top finishes are due to good cars needing fuel and dont want to risk points. Week in and week out he is one of the slowest cars. He says he pulls over for other cars but that happens at the green flag when they are not up to speed. He is not capable anymore of running with these guys. Denny may have been impatient but if it wasnt him it would have been someone else running over KP

Annie Mack
09/26/2007 06:29 AM

I am a fan of neither driver, as well. A little continuity from NASCAR would be nice. It’s frustrating when one driver is fined for saying “bullsh**” but a scrap in the garage area isn’t even mentioned. Just like the rule book, the etiquette book seems to be a big hairy secret that is pulled out and one line is shown when an infraction occurs. I don’t think anything that occurred between racers this year deserves fines or points reductions, but at least be consistent when you do it! Just because Kyle is clinging to the top 35 for his life does not give him a pass!


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