Brad Keselowski touches a nerve with Hendrick, JGR

jutter@charlotteobserver.comJune 14, 2013 

— Reigning Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski appears to have touched a nerve with Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing.

Keselowski told a group of reporters Thursday night in Dearborn, Mich., that Penske Racing and Roush Fenway Racing have been slow to share information on their Ford cars because HMS and JGR have made a habit of hiring employees away from their organization to "steal information."

The charge didn't sit well with Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick.

"Roger Penske and I are great friends and have raced together for years. We've always competed with the utmost respect, and I have immense admiration for his organization. You won't find anyone at Hendrick Motorsports who feels differently," Hendrick said. "The comments Brad reportedly made were misinformed."

Hendrick said HMS hired a tire changer who was a backup for Penske and whose contract was up and added a mechanic from Penske's Nationwide program. When the Penske engine shop was closing, HMS also added a few of those people.

"What Brad left out was that his organization also hired one of our tire changers," Hendrick said. "Brad misrepresents the facts and spends a lot of time making insinuations and accusations about other teams when he should be focused on his own program and competing at a high level.

"I hope he figures that out and begins representing himself and the sport with more class."

Later Friday, JGR owner Joe Gibbs chimed in with his disappointment in Keselowski's comments.

"Clearly those comments are misguided and irresponsible. Brad's candor is well documented, but he would do well to only speak to subjects on which he is properly informed," Gibbs said.

"Obviously NASCAR is a very competitive environment and we take our hiring processes seriously at JGR. The individual he referenced in his comments was working outside of the sport of NASCAR at the time we hired him."

USAC makes donation in honor of Leffler

The U.S. Auto Club Benevolent Foundation has made a $10,000 grant in the memory of the late USAC racing champion Jason Leffler, who died Wednesday night in a winged sprint race in New Jersey.

The foundation will also be accepting additional donations earmarked for usage by Jason's son, Charlie Dean, and Charlie's mother, Allison.

All contributions earmarked for the Leffler program, which may include the Charlie Dean Leffler Education Fund, may be directed to the USAC Benevolent Foundation, care of Executive Director Bill Marvel, 4910 W. 16th St., Speedway, IN 46224. Donations should be earmarked for this program.

Goodyear test at Atlanta

Goodyear has a tire test scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Four drivers - Marcos Ambrose, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - are scheduled to attend.

Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter

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