Hamlin needs to back up trash talking

DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:28 PM ET

If he hasn’t done so already I think that Denny Hamlin might want to have a talk with his crew chief Mike Ford about putting a sock in it the next time he gets the urge to trash talk Chad Knaus and the crew over in Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet pit stall.

On Sunday after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Texas AAA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway Ford — resplendent in an oversized black cowboy hat — told a gathering of media types that it was his superior crew on the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota that caused Johnson’s group to falter in the race, leading to a switch to teammate Jeff Gordon’s crew during the race.

That change has since been made permanent for Phoenix International Raceway this week and the season finale at Homestead Miami Speedway

“I think our race team is better than their race team, and I’m not going to tiptoe around them because of where they’re at (being four-time champions),” Ford said. “We’ve seen it this year, and we went beside them (at Texas), and those guys faltered to the point where they made changes.”

Just like the kid who pokes a bee hive with a pointy stick, Ford may very well live to regret his little outburst. And it may happen this week at Phoenix, where Johnson and Knaus have a much better record — six wins to none over the JGR No. 11 outfit — on the one-mile flat oval.

On Tuesday Knaus said as much when he was asked by Landmark Newspapers NASCAR writer Dustin Long what his reaction was to Ford’s attempt at gamesmanship.

“I think it’s funny they’re more worried about us then they are about themselves,” Knaus said.

But that was as far as Knaus would go, refusing to get into a tit-for-tat with Ford.

As for the crew-switch change, Knaus said it was no different than what any pro sport coach would do under similar circumstances.

“At some point you have to put feelings aside,” he said. “It’s about performance. It’s a performance-based deal. Drivers get sat down and moved and shuffled if they don’t perform. Unfortunately, our guys just struggled.” (How it all works out is anybody’s guess but the whole thing has just added a new dimension to the already fierce battle between the JGR Toyotas and the HMS Chevrolets that will play out over the next two weeks.

Formula finale

So it all comes down to one race for all the silverware in the Formula One world championship Sunday at Abu Dhabi.

Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso holds an eight-point lead over Red Bull’s Mark Webber, with the other Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel 15 back in third place.

Not out of the picture completely is McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton who trails by 24.

Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz said he would rather finish second that issue team orders to Vettel to help his teammate win.

Well, Dietrich you old chap, you will probably get your wish.

Finish lines

The folks at Homestead-Miami Speedway have figured out that to get more bums in the seats at the South Florida track for the finale of the NASCAR season it had better make the fans happy. And what better way to do that than to announce that fans can pretty much bring in as much beer as they can carry on race day. HMS has adjusted its bring-your-own food/beverage policy to allow fans to enter the track with soft-sided coolers measuring up to 14x14x14 inches — six times the previous dimension limits. For the uninitiated that’s big enough to carry 24 to 36 cans of beer ... Over in the Grand Am series, Canadian-based AIM Autosport has put out the help wanted sign for qualified drivers for its Daytona Prototype sports car. Driver positions (read: Come with enough sponsorship money for a full season) are available for the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and the balance of the 2011.


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