You can almost sense a war of words is ready to begin between two of NASCAR’s top drivers, Matt Kenseth and reigning Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski after this morning’s press conference in the media room at Charlotte Motor Speedway as preparations are made for the Coca-Cola 600.
When asked a fairly innocuous question by New York Times contributing reporter Viv Bernstein regarding something Keselowski said in his speech when he received his championship ring at the NASCAR Awards in Las Vegas, Kenseth hesitated a bit before landing what some would think was a roundhouse punch to the grill of the No. 2 Ford’s driver.
“I don’t know, if he’s called any meetings to order I wasn’t invited to any of them,” said Kenseth. The reference was to the champ saying he wanted to be a leader in the sport. While admitting he wasn’t quite sure what the exact meaning of leader was, he did pile on a bit, with a caveat.
“Brad is obviously very opinionated and he definitely has his own ideas, I’m sure his ideas are shared by some, not shared by all necessarily. I think it’s a good thing, that’s what makes Brad Brad. I don’t know what the leader means, I know he’s not my leader. I don’t know if he’s the leader of the drivers. I think being the champion his opinion may carry more weight or more people are listening compared to someone who’s not.”
It was just about ten minutes into Keselowski’s remarks when he said the following:
“As we look into ’13 I hope that as a sport we can continue to find common ground, to unify, I believe everybody in this room, we have some of the smartest people in this room, that can solve any problem and I know that as a sport we can get it done and I hope that every one of us can continue to work together, find that common ground and as a champion I want to be your leader and I want to make that happen.”
Keselowski has a huge fan base on Twitter, mostly due to his on-track iPhone tweet during a Daytona 500 red-flag more than a year ago caused by a massive fireball after Juan Pablo Montoya slammed his No. 42 into a safety vehicle with some 200 gallons of jet fuel aboard. The Fox coverage gradually shifted from the extinguishing of the fire to Keselowski being interviewed live, right on the track, during the break.
NASCAR was none too pleased at the time, but sometimes good things come out of bad because the sport, like it or not, was dragged kicking and screaming into the world of social media. Now they could be monitoring the Twitterverse to see if Keselowski and Kenseth have anything to say to each other before the longest race of the year on Sunday.