Long: Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch rivalry adds spark to playoffs
JOLIET, Illinois —Maybe sometime Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski will laugh about days like Friday, but not now, not anytime soon.
Their relationship was built on conflict, sustained by dissent and festers.
There is little common ground between the two former Cup champions who form the closest thing to a NASCAR rivalry that compares to Richard Petty vs. Bobby Allison or Dale Earnhardt vs. Geoff Bodine.
While those drivers expressed themselves with the bumper, the current generation used Twitter on Friday to add spice to the opening weekend of the Cup playoffs at Chicagoland Speedway.
Keselowski has been talking for weeks about Toyota’s advantage, suggesting last month at Michigan that Toyotas would sandbag for fear that NASCAR would take cars from each manufacturer for inspection.
Informed of Keselowski’s comments that weekend, Busch told ESPN: “Brad’s a (expletive) moron.’’
That didn’t deter Keselowski, who continued his public crusade against Toyota’s advantage.
He spoke of it earlier this week and continued Friday on Twitter after Toyotas took the top four spots in practice, forecasting an advantage by one manufacturer not seen in decades.
They went back and forth on Twitter — much like they’ve raced each other at times, neither giving — and continued their duel after Busch’s blistering pole lap, which was nearly 2 mph faster than the next car.
Keselowski, who rose from a family team before it went bankrupt, won’t back down from what he believes are injustices.
Busch doesn’t put up with what he perceives as b.s.
On the track, their battles have been memorable, particularly multiple incidents at Watkins Glen, including contact this year. After that run-in, Busch radioed his crew that they had “better keep me away from that (expletive) after the race.’’
Friday added another layer to a strained relationship that Keselowski wrote about two years ago — and upset Busch.
Asked if anything has happened lately to make him speak up again about Toyotas, Keselowski said: “No, other than NASCAR’s complete inaction to level the playing field which is the precedent that has been set the last few years. Other than that, no.
“There are natural cycles where cars, teams, manufacturers whatever go up and down. At the start of the year, we were at the top of the cycle. And at this moment, we are not where we need to be. With respect to that, we were at the top and it seemed like there were a lot of rules changes to slow us down and now you have cars that are so much faster than the field and the complete inaction by anybody.’’
Busch mocked Keselowski.
“Maybe I’m confused on what rules were changed,’’ Busch said. “The Penske group was 100 percent for the no-skew rule and they got what they wanted over the off-season and we were against that. Take what you want, we just went to work. Moving on.”
But Busch had more for his foe.
“If you ask Brad, he can fix the world’s problems, that’s all there is to it,’’ Busch said. “It’s just a fact of the matter that no one else is doing anything, they’re putting their head down and going to work and he thinks that somehow the big brother is going to come up and help him. I don’t know what the point is, we all just work hard and do our jobs. I wouldn’t think that all the speed we’ve got for the rest of the year is just here this weekend. I would like to think it’s here for the next 10.”
Keselowski said there’s a reason why he’s the only Ford driver to be so aggressive in speaking about Toyota’s run.
“I like my position at Team Penske and feel pretty secure in driving there for a long, long time,’’ said Keselowski, who signed a multi-year exertions this summer. “I am not looking over my shoulder worrying about getting a ride with another manufacturer one day and that gives me some privileges that maybe some other guys don’t have.’’
Busch had something else he wanted to say about Keselowski but forget. Moments later, he remembered.
“I’m way behind in payback, just FYI,’’ Busch said. “He’s way ahead so if anybody is going to be getting it, it’s going to be him.”
Just like how they did it in the old days.