Logano better watch his back

Joey Logano had better bring a tank to Martinsville Speedway on

April 7.

After the news that Denny Hamlin will be sidelined for about six

weeks with injuries sustained from a last-lap wreck with Logano in

Sunday’s Auto Club 400, there will be no shortage of drivers

willing to hand out a little frontier justice – garage

style.

On Tuesday, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series director John Darby ruled

“no harm, no foul” after the incident between Logano and Hamlin

that ultimately shot the No. 11 Toyota into the pit road wall.

“It was the last lap of the race and the last time they

were both going to see Turns 3 and 4,” Darby said.

“They were side by side. And everything that great

competitors do; if somebody was of the mindset to retaliate, they

probably would have been lined up nose to tail to start with and

somebody would have drove into the other car and spun them

around.

“But in this case, that is so far from the opposite that

it never even crossed anybody’s mind that I’m aware of that paid

attention to the race, that that was part of it.”

But Logano’s actions and post-race words suggest

otherwise.

And while one hopes that the 22-year-old’s comments would

have been toned down considerably had he known the severity of

Hamlin’s condition, it doesn’t erase the fact that

following the race Logano said, “Denny Hamlin was not going

to win that race, no,” and “he probably shouldn’t have

done what he did last week, so that’s what he gets.”

It’s ironic that Hamlin’s criticizing the Generation 6 car

garnered a greater punitive response from NASCAR than Logano’s

putting a driver out of commission.

Although Hamlin got the worst of it on Sunday as well, that

wasn’t the only incident on Logano’s expanding rap

sheet. Logano ran Kurt Busch down onto the grass earlier in the

race. And on the final restart, he did the same to Tony Stewart,

sending the three-time champ and former Joe Gibbs Racing teammate

over the edge and onto pit road to confront Logano after the

race.

 

“Dumb little son-of-a-(expletive) runs us clear down to

the infield,” Stewart said. “He wants to (expletive)

about everybody else and he’s the one who drives like a little

(expletive). I’m going to bust his ass.”

Whether it’s the sense of entitlement on or off the track

— as Smoke alluded to when he referred to Logano as

“just a little rich kid that has never had to work in his

life” — in the past five years the current Penske racer

attracted the ire of NASCAR’s top bad asses from Stewart to

Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick.

Arguably, Harvick dumped Logano in the 2010 June Pocono Cup race

to teach him a lesson following an earlier dust-up in a Nationwide

Series race at Bristol. His incident with Harvick was

well-documented and resulted in Logano’s line

“it’s probably not his fault. His wife wears the

firesuit in the family and tells him what to do.”

Two months later at Michigan, Logano had a similar post-race

run-in with Newman when the veteran told the then 20-year-old

“learn how to drive” and “learn how to control

your car.” But perhaps what was most prophetic from Newman

was “you’ve got one coming.”

It looks as if Newman will have to get in line.

Considering Hamlin’s skill level at Martinsville Speedway,

where he’s won four of the past 10 Cup races, it’s

criminal that he’ll be sitting out April 7. What’s even

more difficult to fathom is that Hamlin, who has qualified for

every Chase for the Sprint Cup since he’s been eligible in

2006 – the only racer other than Jimmie Johnson to make that

claim – will not be a contender for the driver’s

championship this season.

Sure, there’s a short list of candidates who can

substitute in the interim whether it’s Elliott Sadler or

Brian Vickers — both drivers already in the Toyota camp. But

neither competitor can boast Hamlin’s resume or his talent

quite frankly.

And neither can Logano.

In the “Boys have at it” era, the garage will indeed continue to

police itself. If Logano expects to avoid trouble over the next few

months, he’s going to need some mad skills to outrun the

competition because right now the target on his car will be larger

than the sponsor logo on the No. 42 Chevy.

A little humility could go a long way. As of Monday, Logano had

not called on Hamlin to apologize. That might be a good place to

start if he has any desire of joining the Sprint Cup fraternity.

Otherwise, Logano will continue to find himself in the crosshairs

– starting two weeks from now at Martinsville.