William Byron didn’t meant to run Joey Logano into the wall while they raced for the lead at Darlington Raceway, Logano felt…but he insists Byron did, and that’s why Logano’s winning move was a bump out of the way.
“We’re equal,” Logano said. “You put me in the wall first. At that point, it’s game on.”
Logano hit Byron in the bumper entering Turn 3 with two laps to go in the Goodyear 400. The contact shot Byron to the wall and yielded a 13th-place finish, his car damaged from more contact with the wall before getting to the checkered flag. Logano won his first race at “The Lady in Black.”
Logano allowed that Byron would be right to be upset “if I punted him out of the way for no reason to win the race without him doing something to me in the past at any point… He never has in the past, and it’s not like he meant to fence me,” Logano said. “I don’t think he meant to run me in the wall. The [fact is] — he did. It’s racing and it kind of took the win out of my hands, so at that point you’re going to have to do what you have to do to get the lead back in the same manner. He got it, so that’s kind of how that works.”
A restart on lap 268 started it all. Logano was the race leader and chose the outside lane with Byron going to the inside. The two raced hard side-by-side off Turn 2 with Byron prevailing.
“To me, I probably wouldn’t have gone straight to the bump and run if it wasn’t for how he got the lead,” said Logano. “He came off Turn 2 and drove me right into the wall. At that point I’m lucky my car is not broken and I’m a very angry driver. I think anyone in the field would probably agree, if someone is going to be willing to do that to you, the gloves are off at that point.
“I knew, if I got back there, what I was going to do and what I had to do. So that was the way he wanted to race [and] I said, ‘Let’s go.’ If he passed me clean, it wouldn’t have looked like that. But that was the situation that was there in front of me.
“Fortunately, I was able to get back there and he obviously knew it was coming. He checked up into the corner pretty early but I did what I had to do. I had to win the race; it’s very important to win and [get] into the playoffs, obviously. All those things go into the equation of making the decision.”
Byron still felt he and Logano had barely touched.
“OK,” Logano laughed. “Maybe from his side. I felt the wall and his car all at the same time as I was sandwiched into the fence, so, OK. Cool.”
After taking the lead, Byron had initially gapped Logano by a healthy margin but it disappeared inside the final 10 laps. Logano said he was “grinding it out” to get back to the No. 24.
“I just went hard,” Logano said. “My car was pretty tight but you had an angry race car driver in there. There’s something to be said for an angry race car driver, I’m telling you. There’s a little bit more speed in the tank when you tick me off a little bit, and you’re able to go a little faster. The last five or six laps, I could see him get pretty tight and struggling through (Turns) 3 and 4 in particular, but also through (Turns) 1 and 2, and I thought I might have a shot at this thing. It was going to be close on the amount of laps and how quick I could catch him.”
Logano also said he didn’t care what Byron called him and that he’s been called worse.