Just a short time after NASCAR announced there
would be no penalties handed down to Joey Logano or Denny
Hamlin for their contentious racing that led to a last-lap crash
Sunday at Fontana, some much worse news came for Hamlin.
Hamlin is expected to miss “around six weeks” with
the broken vertebra he suffered as a result of the crash, his team
– Joe Gibbs Racing – announced Tuesday night.
It would deal a crippling blow to Hamlin’s hopes of making
the Chase if he is indeed unable to go for six full weeks –
NASCAR is off this week, so he would miss five races.
Hamlin and Logano hadn’t been playing nice for most of the
season. They entered into a Twitter
spat after Daytona, then clashed
again at Bristol a week before the Fontana wreck.
On Sunday, the wreck coming out of the final turn literally handed
Kyle Busch the victory and led to this punch-throwing exchange
between Logano and Tony Stewart:
Will the injury news spark debate about the lack of punishments
handed down? NASCAR was firm in its belief that the contact-filled
sprint to the finish that led to the crash is exactly the kind of
thing it wants to see.
”I have said repeatedly, every minute, that contact, especially
late in the race when you are going for a win, that’s not only
going to happen – that’s expected,” France said in a telephone
interview with The Associated Press. ”Both of them did exactly
what I think you would do when you really, really want to win.
Getting some contact, trying to race extra hard to win the race,
that’s what we’re about.”
Strong words that, again, came out prior to Hamlin’s
injury news. Hamlin himself, meanwhile, had only these sad words to
say via Twitter: