Practice makes pugnacious

Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, works on his car in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway on June 29, 2012 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR)

SPARTA, Ky. — In scorching hot weather at Kentucky, Juan Pablo Montoya lit Brad Keselowski’s fuse in Friday’s first practice session, and Keselowski retaliated in Happy Hour.

Contact between Montoya’s Chevrolet and Keselowski’s Dodge in the first session sent Keselowski’s car into the outside wall, forcing the Penske racing driver to a backup car. In a SPEED interview after the incident, Montoya explained the sequence of events from his point of view.

“I came out of the pits,” Montoya said. “They told me he had a big run. I put my hand out to wave at him. I started turning and running high. I think he thought he’d cleared me, and he was probably going to run high and ran straight into me. We didn’t even do a lap. I wasn’t even up to speed.

“I was really shocked. I saw him coming, I waved, I saw him beside me. I left two grooves on the bottom and he still hit me. It’s just what it is.”

Keselowski made his presence felt in the second practice session, giving Montoya a succession of taps on the left-rear quarter panel as the cars ran through Turns 3 and 4. Montoya took his No. 42 Chevy to the garage for repairs of cosmetic damage.

Of his own accord, Keselowski paid a visit to the NASCAR hauler between Happy Hour and qualifying for Friday night’s Nationwide race, ostensibly to head off an escalation of the conflict. He declined to discuss what was said in the hauler.

“I’m looking forward,” Keselowski said when asked to describe the incidents with Montoya. “I’ve got to go qualify my car, I’ve got to go make it race, so I don’t have time to worry about that.”

To a question as to whether NASCAR had given him advice, Keselowski would only say, “Yes, they did. I’ll leave it between them and me.”

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