When the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rolls into Michigan twice a year, the battle between the three manufacturers in the series takes on a new life with two of the three being based down the road in Detroit.
After Brad Keselowski, a Ford driver, won the pole for Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 on Friday evening to give Ford the top three drivers in qualifying, comments were made indicating that he thought Toyota, which has been the dominant manufacturer in recent weeks, was sandbagging at Michigan. Matt Kenseth was the top Toyota driver in fourth.
“About this time every year NASCAR takes all the cars to kind of check to make sure that the competitive balance is where they want it to be, and I think we’ve seen the last two or three weeks that the Toyota cars are pretty dominant,” said Keselowski. “We had a strong suspicion that those guys would kind of tune it down this weekend, so not to post a pretty big number in inspection that maybe balanced back out the competition, and potentially that’s right because our team hasn’t done much differently and those guys are just not as fast as they’ve been the last few weeks.”
“So, we’ll know for certain at the end of the week based on whether NASCAR takes the cars after the race today. This is their last opportunity on a track that has the potential to showcase the important things for speed in the chase, which is aerodynamics and horsepower, because the chase is predominantly on tracks of mile-and-a-half or similar high-speed nature to this. So, this is kind of the last opportunity for NASCAR to do that, so we came into the weekend thinking that some of those really strong cars would tune it down and knowing that we probably were pretty close to what we had the last few weeks. I’m not sure if that’s what happened, but it kind of looks that way at the moment, but we’ll still take what we can get.”
Of course, this did not sit well with the Toyota drivers and only served to fan the flames of the manufacturer battles as they were quick to show their displeasure with what Keselowski said.
Kyle Busch, who has had a well-known feud with Keselowski dating back a handful of years, was one of the first to let his opinion be heard on Keselowski’s comments.
“Brad’s a [expletive] moron,” Busch told ESPN. “We don’t just turn it down. We actually have a new engine package here this week. He’s a moron.”
Busch wouldn’t be the last of the Toyota drivers to weigh in on the issue, with Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex, Jr. taking to social media to express their thoughts on the whole ordeal.
#Fakenews by someone trying to control the rhetoric
— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) August 11, 2017
— Martin Truex Jr. (@MartinTruex_Jr) August 11, 2017
Through the first 22 races of the season, Chevrolet and Ford lead the way with eight wins, followed by Toyota, which has six wins.