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Keselowski Accuses HMS, JGR Of Stealing Talent

Brad Keselowski [1]Before the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway, Brad Keselowski met with reports and took shots at Chevy-backed Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing, which runs Toyotas.

Keselowski called out Rick Hendrick and Joe Gibbs for “stealing away” employees and, therefore, information from Ford Sprint Cup teams, including his team, Penske Racing.

He said:

Hendrick and Gibbs have this nasty little habit of going to other teams and outbidding other people and taking those employees and stealing our information.

He added that when that happens, Ford teams are less willing to share information because when HMS and JGR poach employees, two teams are affected instead of one.

Keselowski cited two instances where he claims that Hendrick and Gibbs lured away employees with large contracts:

Gibbs stole the Roush aero director and took all the information and Hendrick took three employees from our Chase-winning team last year.

JGR and HMS were not too pleased to hear Keselowski’s comments. JGR issued a statement:

We were surprised to read the recent comments and accusations made by Brad Keselowski. 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. … The individual he referenced in his comments was working outside of the sport of NASCAR at the time we hired him.

HMS owner Rick Hendrick said:

The comments Brad reportedly made were misinformed. The truth is that we hired one tire changer, who was a backup for Penske and whose contract was up. We also brought over one mechanic from their Nationwide program and, when the Penske engine shop was closing, added a few of those people. … 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.

Keselowski has never been one to mince words. He tends to say exactly what he is thinking, and this latest example is no different.

I appreciate Keselowski’s attitude and style because if nothing else, he’s genuine — never phony. But, his comments in this case sound more like those of a spoiled child who doesn’t understand business rather than defending Sprint Cup champion.

In any competitive environment, be it business or sports, organizations want to gain an advantage over their competitors. One way of doing that is to hire the guy who has been outperforming them. It’s not an underhanded tactic; it’s just a part of doing business.

It’s no different than AT&T hiring away a Verizon executive, or the New York Giants hiring away a Philadelphia Eagles assistance coach. It happens all the time, and is a part of doing business.

At the end of the day, Keselowski is entitled to his opinion, and I respect him for having the conviction to state his even when it might ruffle some feathers. But, in this case, I think Keselowski needs to do some research into normal business practices, so he’s better informed in the future.