Is there another professional sport that feuds with its talent more than NASCAR?
Fresh off the contentious deal with Denny Hamlin — who got slapped with a $25,000 fine after criticizing the Gen 6 model earlier this season — defending Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski has stepped into the fray.
And it's not a pleasant conversation about the No. 2 car.
"There's so much stuff going on, you guys have no idea — you have no [expletive] idea what's going on," Keselowski told reporters after the Texas race on Saturday night. "I can tell you there is no team in this garage with the integrity of the 2 team.
"The way we've been treated over the last seven days is absolute shameful. I feel like we've been targeted over the last seven days more than I've ever seen a team targeted in my life."
Keselowski's issues were with the way his team was delayed during inspection the previous week at Martinsville before practice and then penalized for his pitting outside his box during the race.
In a curious twist, NASCAR officials said they won't fine Keselowski for his Texas tirade, despite the accusatory tone pointed at the higher-ups. The team is awaiting word on penalties because both Penske Racing drivers (Keselowski and Joey Logano) and their teams face issues with their rear housing.
"That's the beauty of NASCAR," NASCAR chairman Brian France told the Fox Business Network. "We do allow the drivers to express themselves in that way, even if they say things that we would disagree with. And I obviously disagree with everything he said.
"Look, they're frustrated. This is the most intense racing in the world. It's not surprising that every once in a while when things don't go your way, you just blow off a lot of steam."
France said that Hamlin was fined because "you can't criticize the racing product," which may sound like he is splitting hairs but at least gives drivers a manifesto moving forward.
Boys Have It will apply to everything but ripping the new car, it seems.
I'm not sure this is the best business model, but it's the nature of NASCAR. Drivers have very little leverage and influence in the big-picture scope of things.
They are the face of the sport, but the sport hires them as independent contractors. Any thought of introducing that vile five-letter word into the NASCAR vocabulary — "union" — has been systematically shut down.
The closest that drivers came to separatist unity, if you will, was in 1969 at Talladega when stars including Richard Petty, Buddy Baker, Bobby Allison and Donnie Allison didn't want to risk racing at the track's high speeds. The late "Big Bill" France, who ran the sport at the time, simply filled in the blanks with drivers from other divisions of NASCAR.
NASCAR can point to the fact that it's the only major professional team sport without a strike or a lockout in the past two decades.
But there's still civil strife. Just ask Denny Hamlin or Brad Keselowski.
Tough roads for Gordon and Stewart
They have won seven NASCAR Cup titles between them, but that doesn't mean squat in the here and now.
Jeff Gordon is 15th in the standings. Tony Stewart is 22nd.