Denny Hamlin has hit back at Kyle Busch following the latter's remarks regarding their incident in the All-Star race last weekend.
Speaking at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Thursday, Busch claimed to be surprised at how his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate had raced him in the closing stages of last Saturday's event as they both fought for the lead.
Busch felt Hamlin closed the door on him, causing him to hit the wall and lose any chance of winning the race. The pair had apparently settled the issue at the track last Saturday, but their remarks indicate there is some growing animosity between them.
Hamlin went as far as saying that Busch's behavior just shows he doesn't yet have what it takes to become a Sprint Cup champion.
"Kyle brings this stuff up on himself and gets mad at the media for asking questions about his blowups and stuff. He does it to himself," said Hamlin in response to his teammate's words.
"I don't want to be part of it. Any drama that he wants to create or anything is on him. Anything he says on the radio is on him. All I'm going to be saying is that each year I think Kyle is going to grow out of it and he just doesn't. Until he puts it all together, that's when he will become a champion. And right now, he just doesn't have himself all together."
Speaking about last weekend's incident Hamlin said he doesn't feel he did anything wrong against Busch and that he was simply trying to defend the lead he got in the final pit stop of the event.
Hamlin had started the All-Star race from the rear of the field, following an engine change on his car due to a failure in practice.
"[Kyle] just felt like I took his line away – 'his line'. The guy behind me? Sorry," Hamlin said. "My pit crew had just got me off of pit road with the lead, we came from last in this race and we just put ourselves strategically in that spot and we just didn't have the car good enough to hold those guys off.
"That doesn't mean two laps after that restart, I didn't think I could win. If I didn't think I could win, then maybe I should have given him the line. But I was racing as if I could win. And I just couldn't look myself in the mirror or any of my team guys in the face if I had pulled over there."
Hamlin says he won't get into any mind games Busch is trying to play with him. He believes that despite being teammates, Busch is one of the drivers he has to beat if he wants to become a Sprint Cup champion this year. However he doesn't expect Busch to change his attitude toward him.
"Moving forward, I don't expect anything different," said Hamlin. "Would anyone expect anything different? That's why Kyle has the attention that he has because he is fiery and everything like that.
"I don't expect anything different. But I just don't need to let it bother me. I don't need to let anything he says bother me or the way he acts or says on the radio – I just need to worry about us and not worry about him."
The 29-year-old reminded people that when Tony Stewart left Joe Gibbs Racing at the end of the 2008 season, he didn't proclaim himself as the new team leader, but stated he didn't expect Busch, a 23-year-old back then, to become so.
"When Tony left, I didn't say that I'm going to take over this team or be the leader of this team," Hamlin said. "Somebody's got to be the leader. It ain't going to be Kyle."
Hamlin will start Sunday's 600-mile race at Charlotte right behind teammate Busch, after they qualified in seventh and ninth positions.