We all sort of knew it would wind up like this. After a week that saw Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin get into a on the track incident last Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway, and the two trading jabs on twitter all week, we pretty much knew these two would wind up together in the closing laps of this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. That is how the world of NASCAR works, when guys have a problem you can always count on them getting together in the very next week.
Let’s be clear here, what happened on the final lap of the Auto Club 400 was just two drivers racing for the win and refusing to give one another an inch. That is hard core racing old school NASCAR fans feel the current version of NASCAR lacks a lot of the time. While the outcome was not exactly what a sporting body hopes for, these kids of feuds fuel NASCAR, its fans, and of course the all important TV ratings.
On the white flag lap heading into turn three both Denny Hamlin (driving the #11 Fed Ex Express Toyota) and Logano (driving the #22 Auto Club Ford owned by Detroit native Roger Penske) both went to the bottom side of the track. Logano lost a little big of grip and got into Hamlin what followed was #18 Kyle Bush sneaking around the two on the high side of the track (for the win no less) and Logano hitting the outside wall, collecting Hamlin who then hit the inside wall very hard.
Hamlin’s Toyota struck a part of the inside wall without the SAFER barrier and any long time fans of this sports instantly recognized that hit for the kind of hit that can really hurt a driver. Once his car came to a rest Hamlin let down his driver’s side window net (the sign in NASCAR to safety officials that he is ok) but when he climbed from the car he immediately laid down on the track and was put on a back board, loaded into an ambulance, and carted off to the infield care center. After the race there have been reports that Hamlin was taken to a local hospital complaining of back pain.
While feuds and big time wrecks are often what attract to people to this sport we cannot over look the fact that often these driver are racing with their own lives. Thankfully since the death of Dale Earnhardt Sr. in 2001 NASCAR has made a real effort to improve the safety of their race cars. Because the hit Hamlin just suffered through was the kind of hit that drivers would not always walk away from just 15 years ago.
After the race was over, Tony Stewart took exception to Logan’s late race block on him during a crucial restart. Stewart not only had harsh words for Logano but may have also landed a punch on the young NASCAR star. Again, much like hockey is it these kinds of extra curricular activities that really drive up interest in NASCAR, and you can bet the festivities of this weekend will remind a lot of old school NASCAR fans just how hard core stock car racing can be sometimes.
We here at detroitsports360.com certainly wish Hamlin well and pray that his injuries are not serious cause we want to see round three of this feud in two weeks when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to the shorts track in Martinsville, Virginia.