“For a guy that has been complaining about how everybody else is driving here and then (for) him to do that it’s a double standard. He makes the choice. He makes the decision to run us down there and when you run a driver down there then you take responsibility for what happens after that. He is a tough guy on pit road as soon as one of his crew guys gets in the middle of it. Until then he’s a scared little kid. Then he wants to sit there and throw a water bottle at me. He is going to learn a lesson. He can run his mouth on Twitter and stuff all he wants tonight. I’ve got plenty of people that are going to watch for that. It’s time he learns a lesson. He’s run his mouth long enough. He has sat there and done this double standard and he’s nothing but a little rich kid that has never had to work in his life. He’s going to learn with us working guys that had to work our way up how it works.”
Those biting words came from NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart following last Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. He was talking about Joey Logano, with whom he had an incident with in the final stages of that day’s race.
On a restart with fewer than 15 laps to go, Logano blocked Stewart in an attempt to maintain his position, and Stewart was none to happy about it. After the race, Stewart went over to Logano’s car and threw a few punches, none of which hit Logano.
“I had to throw the block there,” Logano said after the race of the incident with Stewart. “That was a race for the lead. I felt if the 14 got underneath me, that was going to be the end of my opportunity to win the race, so I was just trying to protect the spot I had. I was actually pedaling, because I couldn’t keep the 18 aligned. I was actually faster than the 18 getting our tires hooked up. And then I’m trying to stagger myself making sure I don’t beat him to the line and then I had to block the 14 because I was pedaling it. I’ll talk to him and we’ll see what happens. I think he finished decent. We’ll just talk about it some more.”
Logano was also involved in a last-lap incident with Denny Hamlin. The two drivers made contact while racing for the win. Logano wound up hitting the outside wall while Hamlin hit head-on into the inside retaining wall. Hamlin wound up being transported to a local hospital and was diagnosed with a spinal fracture.
The incident came a week after Logano and Hamlin had a run-in at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway. After that incident, Hamlin admitted to intentionally hitting Logano while he said that he didn’t mean to actually wreck him. He did say, though, that Logano was lucky that he checked up, because that incident could have been much worse. In the week that followed, a Twitter war was waged between the two drivers.
Is Logano really doing anything wrong? After all, the sport is called racing and the object is to finish in front of your competitors, not to just pull down to the apron and let other cars pass. But is Logano driving with a chip on his shoulder, bitter from his time at Joe Gibbs Racing?
Logano made the move during the offseason from the No. 20 car at JGR to the No. 22 at Penske Racing. While at JGR, Hamlin was a teammate and Stewart was the driver Logano replaced behind the wheel of the No. 20. Logano was the youngest guy in the Sprint Cup garage, and also one of the skinniest. Not to mention, he carried the pressure of the nickname “sliced bread,” as in the best thing since.
Logano put up astounding stats at the Nationwide Series level right out of the gate, but he struggled to get acclimated to Sprint Cup racing. He had that nickname, perhaps moved to NASCAR’s top level too soon, was so young and also was replacing one of the best in the sport in the No. 20. Most would, at the very least, crack under that kind of pressure.
Logano seemed to get pushed around a lot, and he never seemed to gain the respect of his own JGR teammates. He just always seemed to be an afterthought or the odd man out. Maybe his move to Penske is ushering in a whole new Logano — a Logano that’s had it and just isn’t taking it anymore. He’s older now and has a teammate in reigning series champion Brad Keselowski who actually wants him there. Keselowski was Logano’s biggest supporter when team owner Roger Penske was looking for a new face for the No. 22.
It wasn’t all that long ago that Keselowski, himself, seemed to have the same chip on his shoulder, so he, more than anybody, knows what Logano’s going through.
Anyway, is Logano doing anything wrong or is he simply standing up for himself? What do you think? You can voice your opinion in an online poll here.