Denny Hamlin understood Joey Logano wanting to talk about their contact at Martinsville Speedway, but said the Team Penske driver didn’t get him agitated enough, leading to an altercation.
Hamlin and Logano exchanged words before Logano shoved Hamlin and turned to walk away. When Hamlin attempted to follow and reach for Logano, he was blocked by individuals from Team Penske, and then the situation escalated. Hamlin ended up being pulled to the ground as team members from both sides were pushing and shoving.
“I understand coming over and talking, standing there and having a discussion with him, but everything was fine,” explained Hamlin. “I think he didn’t get me agitated enough, so he said something and pokes a little bit then runs away … so he could hide behind his guys. He’s just not that tough, and he won’t stand face to face. That’s just his style.”
Logano admitted he should not have shoved Hamlin. However, the reigning series champion said what he heard from Hamlin was not as apologetic as he was looking for after the two traded paint inside the final 45 laps of the First Data 500.
Racing tight off Turns 3 and 4, the two made door to door contact with Logano also hitting the outside wall. Hamlin owned up to the incident. Describing it as a product of tight racing and getting tight off the corner, Hamlin called Logano’s cut tire “unfortunate” but not malicious.
“The 2 (Brad Keselowski) was just beating the shit out of my rear bumper all day long, jacking me sideways, cutting me off,” Hamlin said. “So I mean, it’s just part of this whole thing, so you got to understand. I think he’s got to understand not everything goes his way.
“I told him it was my fault, I came up the racetrack, we made contact obviously. The end part is his fault. We can have a discussion. I had a discussion with him over two or three times about him blocking me and what is he doing at Dover, that’s the discussion that men have. But he handles it differently because he’s immature.”
Logano said “Denny is Denny” and called him “arrogant” at times. When that happens, Logano believes he needs to be stronger than letting it get to him.
“I was frustrated about the situation, obviously, and I was really wanting to over there and talk to him and get his side of the story on what happened, and he just said I ran you up into the wall, basically,” Logano said. “It wasn’t as apologetic as I was looking for, and that probably escalating the situation too much. I shouldn’t have shoved him. That was, for all the kids watching, that wasn’t the best thing to do, but I was frustrated. Tempers are high, and it’s the playoffs. So that’s what happens.
“I don’t think it was necessary [with] plenty of laps to go. Racing for the win and you’re coming off the last corner, all right, I get it. But man, don’t really understand the situation on why he had to do that.”
As for the shove?
“I was mad,” Logano admitted. “I got fenced. … I would take that part back. That wasn’t as professional as I should be; I wanted to have the conversation. Like I said, the answers he was giving wasn’t, I thought, good enough and made me more mad. So, there you go.”