BROOKLYN, Mich. — Rick Hendrick defended his team's hiring approach Friday and said Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski should show "more class" after accusing Hendrick Motorsports of stealing information by poaching employees from Ford teams.
"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," Hendrick said in a statement. "I hope he figures that out and begins representing himself and the sport with more class."
Keselowski was at Ford headquarters in Dearborn on Thursday, when he said his Penske Racing team has been reluctant to share information with Roush Fenway Racing on their Ford cars.
"What keeps it from going too far is the fact Hendrick and (Joe Gibbs Racing) have this nasty little habit of going to our teams and outbidding different people and taking those employees and stealing our information," Keselowski said, according to ESPN.com.
Keselowski didn't elaborate when asked about his comments Friday.
"We were just talking about Ford and specifically the relationship between Penske and Roush, and how strong it was," Keselowski said. "I just commented on, there will always be limitations to our relationships company to company because of those transactions."
Joe Gibbs Racing weighed in with a statement of its own.
"We were surprised to read the recent comments and accusations made by Brad Keselowski," JGR said. "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."
Keselowski was a developmental driver for Hendrick Motorsports before Hendrick granted him an early release to drive for Roger Penske. Keselowski has won a Nationwide title and the Cup championship since moving to Penske Racing.
But Hendrick said the outspoken champion is "misinformed" on his latest claim.
"The truth is that we hired one tire changer, who was a backup for Penske and whose contract was up," Hendrick said. "We also brought over one mechanic from their Nationwide program and, when the Penske engine shop was closing, added a few of those people. What Brad left out was that his organization also hired one of our tire changers."
This is just one of many verbal dust-ups between Keselowski and the Hendrick organization, which Keselowski often believes gets away with more than others. He also has been critical of Hendrick's research and development cycle.
He went on a rant after the Texas race in April when NASCAR confiscated parts from the Penske cars during a pre-race inspection, and while his comments were vague and open to interpretation, many believed he was alleging Hendrick cars get more leeway than Penske teams. Then came a rumor that it was Hendrick employees who snitched on Penske for having suspect rear suspensions. Hendrick's drivers have adamantly denied anyone from their organization tattled to NASCAR.
"Roger Penske and I are great friends and have raced together for years," Hendrick said Friday. "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."
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