Teague latest victim of poor treatment by young drivers

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR STAFF
mbirchfield@starhq.com

   The new generation of drivers that have come into NASCAR in recent years differ from those who helped lay the foundation of the past.
   In last Saturday's Carquest 300 Busch Series race at Lowe's Motor Speedway, a confortation between young gun Kevin Harvick and veteran Busch driver Brad Teague broke out after the finish.
   Teague went to complain about Harvick's display of the middle finger, which has become an often gesture to the displeasure of fellow competitors.
   It was said with about 15 laps left in the 300-mile race, Harvick stuck up his finger while lapping the car of Teague.
   Exactly not being sure of why the obscene gesture was made, Teague made a trip down to where Harvick was to discuss the matter. That's when the often happy-go-lucky Teague became intensely outraged.
   "Kevin Harvick lapped me with about 15 laps to go, and what he did was go around me and stick his hand out the window giving me the finger," said Teague. "I got out of the car after the race and went over there to ask him about it, so I walked over to the pit wall with him and ask why he did that."
   "I told him if he did that again, then I'd just break his middle finger off."
   After arguing with each other for a brief period, Teague started to leave when Harvick decided to sling water his way.
   "That's a poor way to do things to me, and I've seen him do that before to people," said Teague. "There wouldn't have been a scuffle if he hadn't threw water on me. All I wanted to do was ask him about it and tell him about it."
   The confortation, viewed on this week's Totally NASCAR show on Fox Sports Net, shows Teague being grabbed from behind and pulled away.
   "We argued back and forth there, and I started to leave and then he threw water on me," said Teague. "When he threw water on me I tried to get a hold of him, but there was too many people holding me."
   The big question in this footage is, where is Harvick?
   While Teague was being removed from the argument, one of Harvick's crew members, James Caldwell, decided to get involved in defending Harvick against the 57-year-old veteran.
   With Teague being held by another unidentified crew person, Caldwell took the opportunity to give Teague a shove from behind, and then adds another push once he is let go.
   Teague manages to spring back up and go after the crew member, who appears to be somewhere around 300 pounds, approximately twice Teague's size.
   "We were scuffling around there, and somebody was with him -- I don't know who it was," said Teague. "He was pushing me and saying stuff he shouldn't have, and he pushed me two or three times.
   "When I got loose I tried to hit whoever got was pushing and cussing me, then they got a hold of me and led me off."
   What's wrong with this picture, you might ask? Well, anyone man enough to throw water at somebody surely needs to be man enough to defend himself.
   Instead of Caldwell sticking his nose into the confortation, Harvick should of been the one to face the music since he's the guy who took the first shot by throwing the water.
   As of Wednesday there was no word to whether Teague or Caldwell will receive any penalties or fines, as the Busch Series will head off to Dover, Delaware this weekend.
   Not only has it been disheartening to see a young driver come into the sport and show a lack of respect toward an elder competitor, but it is also sickening when you think back too how things were before NASCAR hit the mainstream air waves.
   Teague started his racing career back in 1967 on dirt, and three years later, he got his first opportunity to compete at the Busch Series level.
   Back then, it was called the Late Model Sportsman Division, and it wasn't until 1982 it received the present name.
   In those days, there was no displaying the middle finger to another competitor. The attitudes of the drivers showed a mutual respect for one another.
   "In those days you just didn't do that unless you wanted a good clubbing or someone to come and actually break that finger off," said Teague. "All anybody ever did then was shake their fist at somebody, but it's mostly these 'young guns' who are using these gestures out the window that way.
   "I can't remember any of the drivers like Jack Ingram, Morgan Shepard, Harry Gant or even Earnhardt Sr. who would stick his finger up at somebody.
   "You'd have a fight for sure if you did that back then."
   Guys like Kevin Harvick or Tony Stewart, along with some of the other new faces, seem to thrive on being sarcastic and disrespectful to fellow drivers. They don't have the concept of what it took to build NASCAR to what it is today.
   The people like Yarborough, Petty, Allison and Waltrip were dedicated to what they did. They also embraced the fans by staying over at the race just so the people in the stands could get a chance to meet their favorite driver.
   Nowadays, you're lucky if a guy like Harvick or Stewart even acknowledges their fans or talks to a member of the media outside of mainstream TV.
   With silver spoons stuck in their mouths by having the best of equipment as soon as they hit the NASCAR scene, the young guys have no idea of what it's like busting your tail to make the next event, or where the next dollar will come from so your team can survive.
   There's a definite ego problem. There's a lack of respect toward the drivers who haven't had the breaks or are no longer in their prime of their careers.
   "They treat the guys that built the foundation for them terrible," said Teague. "They expect you to give them the whole race track, and they gripe about certain things they shouldn't even mention."
   Last season a cocky young Kurt Busch was nailed with a punch by Jimmy Spencer while sitting in his car after the race at Michigan.
   Spencer was suspended for one race and fined, but many race fans responded with an outcry of support. Spencer received the loudest standing ovation of the season at the next event he was in.
   So with all the antics being displayed from some of the young drivers, it's just a matter of time when the cheers will roar again for the seasoned driver who attempts to put a stop on the childish, punk behavior that's going on in NASCAR's top circuits.