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Woody: Pops In Pits Bad Idea

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, June 15 2010

Joe Gibbs talks with Tom Logano, father of Joe Gibbs Racing's Joey Logano, in the garages at a recent race. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

By Larry Woody | Senior Writer

Anyone who’s ever sat in the stands during a Little League game or a youth-league soccer match knows why it’s not a good idea to allow parents in the pits at a stock car race.

As my racintoday.com cohort Rick Minter pointed out in an earlier column, Parents Behaving Badly is not new to racing. But a couple of incidents involving Tom Logano, father of NASCAR prodigy Joey Logano, have focused new light on the old problem.

In the olds days, most of the extra-curricular stuff took place out behind the fence. Today everything that happens before, during or after a race is beamed across the airwaves.

What once might have been a private incident today is very public. Images of the senior Logano appearing to shove a TV guy out of the way during his son’s confrontation with Kevin Harvick has gotten tons of attention.

Another reason why last Sunday’s Pocono blowup has been so publicized is because it’s not the first time that Tom Logano has poked his nose into the middle of such a fracas.

Last year he had his NASCAR pass revoked after an incident with Greg Biffle.

The senior Logano simply got another pass and continued to show up in the pits, and has continued to do so ever since.

Having pop in the pits is especially ill-advised in racing; if you think the old man gets riled when Junior is called out in Little League, imagine his emotions when Junior gets knocked into the cheap seats trailing flames and car-parts.

Also NASCAR drivers are increasingly younger – has Joey Logano even started shaving? – and parents are protective of their little darlings. Over-protective in many cases.

Protecting their young is a paternal instinct, but it could lead to big headaches for NASCAR if the trend continues.

Last Sunday, for example, I thought Joey’s behavior was in-bounds when he confronted Harvick to express his displeasure over getting taken out. And he landed the zinger of the year by tweaking Harvick over his wife’s “wearing the fire suit in the family.”

Everything Joey did was OK, but his dad should have kept out of it.

It doesn’t help Joey’s boyish image to always have his daddy at his side. If Joey’s big enough to race with the big boys, he’s big enough to fight his own battles.

Also, having the elder Logano barge into a heated situation could spark an altercation among crewman and other team members that otherwise might be avoided. Letting Joey the driver vent is one thing; getting a shove or a mouth-full from Tom the dad might be too much. He doesn’t need to be in there, sloshing fuel on the fire.

I don’t know what the solution is. It would be hard for NASCAR to ban all “next of kin” on pit road. (Delana Harvick would have to turn in her fire suit.) But it had better get a handle on the situation, or its going to have a major incident on its hands.

If you think NASCAR Dads are wild and crazy, just wait till Soccer Moms start showing up at trackside.

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, June 15 2010
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