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Hamlin Vs. Logano: Round 4 At Martinsville

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, October 28 2019
Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin got into a brawl after Sunday’s Cup race at Martinsville. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Garry Eller)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Altercations at Martinsville Speedway are nothing new, almost expected, but the one Sunday night after the First Data 500 wasn’t the first between Joey Logano and former Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin.

In fact, it was the fourth since 2013. 

The first occurred at Bristol in March 2013 when Logano confronted Hamlin before he exited his race car. A week later the two were battling for the lead on the final lap in Fontana, Calif., when they collided. Hamlin’s car slammed into the inside wall and he suffered a compressed fracture in his lower back. Then at Dover earlier this month Hamlin claimed Logano, who was down 24 laps, “air-blocked” him. The move allowed Martin Truex Jr. to pass Hamlin for the lead and claim the Stage 2 win. Hamlin never led the race again.  

Sunday night the two were battling for a top-10 position late in the race when Hamlin exited turn four on the inside of Logano. The two hit and then Logano smacked the wall. That cut a tire on Logano’s car, resulting in him spinning on lap 459.  Logano fought back to finish eighth, while Hamlin placed fourth.

In Logano’s opinion, the on-track incident wasn’t necessary.

“There were plenty of laps to go,” Logano said. “If you’re racing for the win and you’re coming off the last corner, all right, I get it. 

“Denny is just Denny. He’s a little bit arrogant sometimes and I should be stronger than to let that get underneath me when he does that. We had a conversation and I shoved him (because) I was mad. That wasn’t as professional as I should be.” 

Hamlin said he felt Logano wanted to agitate him.  

“He said something, then pokes a little bit and then runs away so he can hide behind his guys,” Hamlin said. “He’s just not that tough and he won’t stand face-to-face. That’s just his style.

“We got together and he cut a tire, which is very unfortunate for him. It was not malicious by any means. It just happened. I got tight off the corner, we made contact.

“The (No.) 2 (Brad Keselowski) was just beating the s— out of my rear bumper all day long, jack me sideways, cutting me off, so it’s just part of this whole thing. He’s (Logano) got to understand that not everything goes his way. I told him it (accident) was my fault, but the end part was his fault. I had a discussion with him two or three times over him blocking me at Dover. That’s a discussion that men have, but he handles it differently because he’s immature.”          

 Unlike the three previous incidents, Sunday’s fracas involved crew members, public relations representatives and NASCAR officials. The two drivers were talking on pit road when Logano shoved Hamlin and walked away. Hamlin went after Logano. That’s when Logano’s crew chief Todd Gordon and public relations representative Kyle Zimmerman quickly stepped between the two drivers. A shoving match erupted and Hamlin was left lying on pit road. While a few crew members tussled on the ground, others tried to separate them. Meanwhile, Logano looked for Hamlin and the two went after each other again. This time they were kept apart by NASCAR officials, crew members and public relations representatives. After everything had settled down, Gordon, Team Penske Competition Director Travis Geisler and a crew member were called to the NASCAR hauler, a NASCAR spokesman said. No word yet on if any penalties will be issued.

 Gibbs said he would talk with Hamlin about the incident.

 “There was a lot at stake and when there’s a lot at stake and it’s Martinsville, Martinsville seems to bring that out,” Gibbs said. “I think everybody’s crews try and protect their driver, and I think generally what we try and do is separate guys. It’s a sport that brings a lot of intensity to the race track. If you see somebody do something to you that you think goes against … what’s best for you, there’s going to be a price to pay for that.

           “I just think it’s emotion.  You see it in most sports, to be truthful.”

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, October 28 2019
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