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December 21, 2014

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The Harvick and Hamlin reality show

Sprint Cup racing is the ultimate reality show. It doesn’t have the drama that Snookie brings to “Jersey Shore,” but it does have Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin.

There has been a mountain of drama this season as the hyper-competitive and sometimes ego-sensitive drivers have taken advantage of NASCAR’s new hands-off approach toward the sport. As a result, there’s a long list of drivers who have been thumping their chests, talking trash and publicly vowing revenge on the asphalt.

It all makes the sport more exciting and it makes my job as a cartoonist a lot easier, but when the sport reaches the final 10-race stretch of the season, does all of this drama become a destructive distraction for Chase contenders?

That brings us back to Hamlin and Harvick. You’ve read about the penalties levied against the No. 33 car for a misaligned body and team owner Richard Childress’s defense that the car’s body was damaged after being pushed by a wrecker. Hamlin, in blunt terms, called Childress’s “excuse” ridiculous. Childress’s other driver, Kevin Harvick, retaliated against Hamlin during a practice session and a little scuffle ensued between the Harvick and Hamlin teams in the pits.

OK, this is all very entertaining, but how does it help either of these Chase contenders contend for the championship? How do you stay focused on grabbing the Sprint Cup when you’re distracted by a playground scuffle? Aren’t the stakes too high for the drivers to be wasting their time with this nonsense? And Hamlin is in the points lead, so he has the most to loose. That’s probably why the powers that be at Joe Gibbs Racing told Hamlin to tone it down this week.

Meanwhile, there’s Jimmie Johnson, methodically gaining in the points lead and avoiding all of the drama as he does it.

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