Denny Hamlin critical of Joey Logano and ‘out of control’ Penske pit crew for Martinsville
There is a longstanding rivalry between the two championship contenders
The ordeal began with an on-track incident between the two with 42 laps remaining in the race. Logano was pinched into the wall off turn 4 by Hamlin. The contact resulted in damage for Logano, leading to a spin, which eliminated the Team Penske No. 22 from contention.
Even though Logano was able to race back inside the top 10, the two drivers marched toward each other after the race to chat about the incident on pit road.
The conversation was cordial, if somewhat stern, until Logano placed a forceful shove on Hamlin before attempting to walk away. Hamlin raced after his rival but was held back by Penske crew chief Todd Gordon.
Dave Nichols Jr., the tire specialist on the No. 22 team, horse collar tackled Hamlin from behind – triggering a pile-in from both sides. NASCAR suspended Nichols one week for his actions.
Hamlin praised his over-the-wall team, led by crew chief Chris Gabehart, for keeping the No. 11 bunch levelheaded after Logano’s shove.
“I thought that my guys were pretty level to be honest with you through that whole deal,” Hamlin said during a media availability session on Friday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway. “I think you could see quite a few times Joey is right in front of them and no one lays a hand on Joey. I think it’s just lack of control that Todd’s (Gordon, crew chief, Joey Logano) got with his people.”
It’s worth mentioning that Gordon took responsibility for his team’s actions on Monday during an interview on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Hamlin took responsibility for what happened on the track between the two. Hamlin and Logano have a storied rivalry dating back to 2013. The two were even involved in a crash at Auto Club Speedway that season that left Hamlin with a fractured vertebra.
That’s what Hamlin wasn’t going to give an inch on the track at Martinsville. He just miscalculated how little he gave the No. 22 on the exit of turn 4 that evening.
“I take in account who is beside me at all times,” Hamlin said. “I was not going to give one inch. I misjudged. The on-track stuff was definitely my fault. There was no intention to run into him or run him into the wall or anything like that. Because I put myself at a pretty big risk there of cutting tires as well, but I was just trying to use all the space that I could.
“Certainly, if it was like a teammate or someone else beside me or really anyone, yeah, I probably don’t gas it up quite as soon and try to take all of that space. All that stuff plays a factor for sure.”
And Hamlin says he didn’t mind the conversation and hearing Logano’s side of it. After all, Hamlin was in a similar spot two years ago with he misjudged the entrance of Turn 1 and spun leader Chase Elliott out of the win and a championship race berth.
That conversation didn’t end in a fight. This one did, Hamlin says, because Logano shoved him.
“I’m not going to let him touch me,” Hamlin said. “First, the first thing, as a man you can’t just let that stuff happen.”
Complicating matters for both drivers is that they are still eligible for the championship. In fact, both enter the second race of the Round of 8 inside the playoff cutoff.
“That doesn’t affect me, and we are talking about it right now, but within 30 minutes when I’m going in there to work, it stops,” Hamlin said. “That’s my full concentration. Like I said, we go into every race track to win. This weekend is no different. We don’t self-label ourselves as a favorite. I don’t think we are. We’re not locked in to Homestead. We still have a lot of work to do. By no means is this thing given.”
And is there anything that Logano is capable of doing that could get into Hamlin’s head as they race for a championship race berth over the next two weeks?
“No, he’s not that smart.”