Another week another confrontation on pit road. Last week two drivers in the NASCAR Xfinity race came to blows after the race at Kansas. Sunday it was NASCAR Cup Playoff drivers Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin.
The confrontation started on the track in the closing laps when the two got together and Logano was sent into the wall. Hamlin would finish fourth, Logano eighth.
The two talked face-to-face on pit road, before Logano slapped Hamlin on the shoulder and walked away. Hamlin followed and crew members from both teams intervened. Hamlin and a crew member from Logano’s team ended up on the ground. The fracas was quickly broken up.
“We were having a discussion, everything was civil, and then like Joey does, he does a little push and then runs away,” Hamlin said. “So that’s Joey. Scared ‑‑ he said, “Do you want to go?” I said, “Yes, I’m here.” But then he runs away.”
As for the on-track incident.
“I got close off of Turn 4,” Hamlin said. “It looks like we got together, and it looks like collateral damage. He blew a tire. I mean, he would probably say, oh, short track racing.”
Hamlin said he had no intention of seeking out Logano after the race, while Logano did.
“Yeah, I just wanted to talk to him about it and was pretty frustrated,” Logano said. “He just kind of came off the corner like there wasn’t another car on the outside of him and ruined our day. A shot at the win for sure. We probably weren’t going to beat the 19, but we had a top 5 for sure coming our way, but we just were able to survive there.
“I don’t really know what happened because once he started hitting me he didn’t lift, he just kept finishing me off. We ran each other fine all day, so I don’t know. I don’t really know what happened. He just kind of sends me up there and keeps on going with it. Cut down my tires and fender rubs everywhere.”
“You know, at the end of the day we still got a decent finish out of it and some points in the stages at least,” he added. “But a little frustrated with the situation. I wanted to talk to him about it, and maybe I shouldn’t have shoved him at the end. It may have escalated it a little bit more. It’s frustrating. There’s a lot of passion out there.”
Logano said he wanted to delver a message, but not a physical one.
“I honestly just wanted to see what he was going to say, and he really wasn’t apologetic at all,” Logano said. “That’s more frustrating when someone is like that, isn’t it? When someone wrecks you and he’s like, meh, that’s not really what I was going for there. I just wanted to see what his thoughts were and wasn’t quite the answer I was looking for.”
“Just the playoffs,” he added. “It just happens. It’s part of it. Emotions run high.”
Monday NASCAR officials penalized a Team Penske crew member for his role in the post-race scuffle.
Competition officials suspended Dave Nichols Jr., a tire technician for Logano’s No. 22 team, for the next Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race for his role in an altercation after Sunday’s First Data 500. He was found in violation of Section 12.8.1.C of the 2019 NASCAR Rule Book, a behavioral penalty that addresses “member-to-member confrontation with physical violence.”
In the videos Nichols can be seen grabbing the back of Hamlin’s fire suit and pulling him to the ground.
Nichols was among the Team Penske team members called to the NASCAR competition hauler for a post-race consultation Sunday. The others were Travis Geisler, Penske’s NASCAR competition director, and Todd Gordon, crew chief for the No. 22 Ford. Neither driver was summoned to the hauler.