Did You Discover? … Joey Logano has a historical past of aggressive on-track conduct? That’s what Denny Hamlin thinks anyway, after being requested why he didn’t knock the No. 22 Ford out of the way in which within the closing laps of Monday’s (March 29) Meals Metropolis Grime Race.
“I feel me and the No. 22 race in a different way,” Hamlin mentioned when requested why he didn’t use pressure to take the win. “I don’t have that mentality.”
Hamlin’s swipe at Logano is nothing new; there’s been no love misplaced between these two drivers for almost a decade. Their first run-in got here again in 2013, throughout a final-lap race for the win at Auto Membership Speedway and Logano’s first 12 months with Workforce Penske. Coming off turns 3 and 4, Logano made contact with the No. 11 Toyota and despatched Hamlin onerous into the within wall whereas Kyle Busch snuck by them each to take the win.
The pressure of that wreck brought on a compression fracture in Hamlin’s decrease again, an harm that stored him out of 4 races that 12 months and completely altered his opinion of Logano.
“If it wasn’t intentional,” he mentioned later, “It’s the worst case of automobile management I’ve ever seen as a driver.”
Logano’s aggression wasn’t restricted to simply Hamlin, although. Probably the most notorious incident got here within the fall of 2015 when he spun Matt Kenseth late within the race to take the win at Kansas Speedway.
Kenseth was so offended after the crash, which stored him from advancing within the NASCAR playoffs, that he sought on-track retribution a month later at Martinsville Speedway. A payback wreck ensued that was one of the vital blatant intentional strikes in NASCAR’s trendy period, inflicting a suspension for Kenseth however attaining its desired end result: Logano was shut out of the Championship 4 in a 12 months he received a career-best six races.
Since then, Logano’s most notorious transfer can also be one which occurred at Martinsville, not directly chargeable for his 2018 Cup Sequence championship. Working second to Martin Truex Jr., he executed the bump-and-run on the ultimate lap Hamlin prevented as a way to seize the victory and an automated spot within the Championship 4.
“Miami,” he mentioned afterward, referring to the playoff finale. “Simply fascinated about Miami. Enthusiastic about how we will win a championship on this automobile. On the finish of the race, you’re going to have some bumping and grinding on the finish.”
There have been smaller incidents alongside the way in which these previous a number of years: a spin-turned-fight with Kyle Busch at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (2017), a couple of points with Kevin Harvick (2010, 2015) and even some tussles with present teammate Brad Keselowski (2020).
“Aggressive typically works for me,” Logano mentioned. “I often keep that method.”
The query is whether or not it’s honest to say his aggression continues to be as excessive as Hamlin makes you consider.
Flashback to Bristol, June 2020: the very observe these drivers raced on this week. It was Logano on the flawed finish of some bumper automobiles conduct as Chase Elliott made contact whereas battling for the win. (In that case, each drivers misplaced as Keselowski took benefit of the incident).
Logano did get better to make the postseason simply, then advance to the Championship 4 behind a powerful battle with Harvick at Kansas Speedway. On older tires, Logano was capable of eke forward of Harvick and keep there with the low-horsepower, high-downforce package deal that makes it not possible to go. It’s the kind of refined aggression a driver of his caliber can make the most of in a number of methods. He’s accomplished it as a lapped automobile, stopping Kyle Busch from successful Bristol final fall or working as a choose to assist teammate Ryan Blaney catch chief Kyle Larson at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
That mentioned, 2021 hasn’t been crammed with bulldozer-type moments. As a substitute, Logano was the one blowing probabilities over the primary few races, letting a few wins slip away within the closing laps. He bought wrecked by Keselowski via blocking within the final lap of the season-opening Daytona 500, then let Christopher Bell slip by with out incident for a victory on the Daytona Worldwide Speedway street course one week later. At Phoenix Raceway two weeks in the past, Truex snuck forward on a restart and didn’t really feel the wrath of Logano’s entrance bumper.
The No. 22 settled for second (or worse) every time. Would now we have seen the identical sort of conduct a couple of years in the past? At age 30, might Logano be maturing earlier than our eyes?
One might say the identical for Hamlin at age 40, too. It’s not just like the No. 11 Toyota driver’s been devoid of aggression his whole profession. There was the 2017 spin of Chase Elliott at Martinsville that stored Elliott from advancing to the Championship 4. Keselowski and even Danica Patrick have felt the pressure of Hamlin’s entrance bumper.
Frankly, you would say a “no contact” end reveals some progress in how each of them are racing. Trash speaking apart, the 2 are giving one another extra respect on the racetrack, a gentlemanly truce that seems poised to proceed … no matter what Hamlin may say.
Did You Discover? … Fast hits earlier than taking off….
- The filth ringers had a heck of a time on Monday. However give Stewart Friesen some credit score. twenty third in his Cup debut, with a staff in Spire Motorsports that usually doesn’t run near the entrance, is respectable his first outing. Present Rookie of the Yr level chief Chase Briscoe, by comparability, has completed no higher than 18th in his first seven Cup begins with much better gear.
- Talking of Spire, try this heartwarming shock from Corey LaJoie to an eighth-grade fan who wrote him a letter. (Warning: Kleenex suggested).
- One other week, one other race with no Stewart-Haas Racing automobile inside the highest 15 apart from Kevin Harvick. Cole Custer is “better of the remaining” at SHR and sits 54 factors outdoors the ultimate playoff spot. It’s a reasonably large gap to dig out of this early.
- As I wrote at CBS Sports activities this week, give NASCAR credit score for making hen salad out of what might have been a disastrous filth debut at Bristol. Would now we have seen them try this only a few years in the past? The reply, for my part, is a powerful no. A change in management all the time has top-down penalties: on this case, they’ve bought the game headed again in the fitting route.