The Frontstretch: Near Catastrophe Mixed With Fontana Excitement: 3 Reasons How And Why by Summer Bedgood -- Monday March 25, 2013

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If Bristol was exciting, then Fontana was the Cirque de Soleil of the season. Yes, that Fontana, where every fan groans at the sound of the name and shudders at the dull racing they will watch (psst … sleep through) on Sunday. It’s just not a race that people circle on their calendar when looking at the schedule.

Yet, when you think about the major storylines that came out of the race — swearing, fighting, and dumping — you think Bristol, maybe Martinsville, right? But, Fontana? No way!

Joey Logano felt a measure of revenge after what happened during the white-flag lap at Fontana.

It was true, though. Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin fighting for the lead post-Bristol/Twitter feud on the final lap of the race and I think we all knew what was coming next. Regardless of all those who were looking to Martinsville for “Round 2”, the 22 and the 11 were just inevitably drawn together in Fontana. Logano slides up the track, into Hamlin, and Hamlin takes the ride of his life that eventually sends him to the hospital.

It was scary, of course, and I hope Denny makes a quick recovery. It doesn’t matter how exciting a race is, we never want to see a driver hurt.

There were quite a bit of things wrong with what happened, though, that could have stopped Hamlin from having to get into that ambulance. They were things that didn’t need to happen and, frankly, need to stop.

Don’t get me wrong. The race was fantastic and I hope we have a finish that exciting every week. We need that in racing, especially at racetracks like Fontana which take up the majority of the schedule. I hope the excitement factor doesn’t change. But there are three things that need to adjust in order to keep some of the crap out of the track.

First things first … those SAFER barriers. Why, oh why, in 2013, does NASCAR allow sanctioned tracks to keep any part of their track free of SAFER barriers? If there is one thing in almost 70 years of NASCAR that everyone should have learned by now, is that if there is a part of the track that can be hit, the drivers will find it. It doesn’t matter how abstract, obscure, or unoccupied that part of the track is. If it’s within an area of the racetrack, eventually they will hit it.

So why risk it? Either spend a few thousand dollars or have the stain of injury on your speedway. NASCAR has made some amazing safety innovations lately and have had very few injuries, let alone fatalities, in years. But while all injuries can never, I believe, be completely eliminated, they can at least try. After all the money both NASCAR and the tracks alike have put into keeping racing as safe and exciting as possible, it just doesn’t make sense. Had Hamlin hit an area of the track with a SAFER barrier, more than likely he’d have hopped out of that car, given a smart aleck interview on FOX, and proceeded to do some trash talking on Twitter. Logano would have probably gone right back at him, and this whole thing would continue to entertain us all.

Now, it’s been marred by the fact that Hamlin had to stay overnight in the hospital and the rivalry really isn’t fun anymore. We’re all too worried about safety and when Hamlin will race again. Wouldn’t an all out war of words be much more enjoyable rather than waiting to hear as to whether or not a driver is going to leave the hospital? Please, NASCAR, make it mandatory for racetracks to have SAFER barriers all the way around their ovals.

Secondly, this culture of “I’ll wreck you if I don’t like you” has to end. I don’t care what it used to be like back in the “good old days” or what short track racing was built on. Logano’s move was unacceptable. Yes, I know he didn’t hook Hamlin in the right rear and send him straight into the wall. Yes, I know part of what happened was Logano screwing up his corner and finishing the deed. But he didn’t quite hide the fact that he intended to follow through on what he had promised a week prior.

I always hear people attempt to define what “real racing” is. “Restrictor plate racing isn’t real racing.” “The end of that race wasn’t real racing.” “Racing with this generation of racecars isn’t real racing.”

Well, let me tell you something. What Logano did was not racing. It was wrecking, and it was dirty. It shouldn’t have happened. “Rattling his cage” is one thing, but sending him on a merry ride through the infield is not acceptable, especially on a professional level.

Unfortunately, it happens too often. Hamlin did it to a lesser extent at Bristol, albeit at lower speeds. We shouldn’t have to have Hamlin sitting in a hospital tonight for drivers to say, “Oh gosh, golly, gee, maybe wrecking the hell out of each other just because our testosterone won’t stop flowing may just not be the best idea!”

Don’t get me wrong. Rivalries are a blast to watch and I do hope to see this Hamlin/Logano feud continue because, for once, it looks like Logano will be someone to contend with this year. But let’s hope they can do it without doing any serious harm to one another.

Finally, double standards. I know asking drivers to see things from each other’s points of view are like mission impossible, but it’s really aggravating. Though it has less to do with the wreck and more to do with Stewart’s complete mental breakdown, it would have at least made sense had Stewart said, “Yeah I’ve blocked before and made a mess because of it, but that s—- pisses me off so I went after him!”

Logano is guilty of his own double standard, though. He took “standing up for myself” to basically mean “on-track bully.” Hamlin has taken “give me respect” to mean “but I won’t give it back.” I don’t give a rip about Logano’s youth. He’s been around, and known Hamlin, long enough for Hamlin to stop treating Logano like a second class citizen.

On the flip side, Logano needs to quit acting like a diva whenever someone so much as makes slight contact on the racetrack. It’s racing! You race, and sometimes that means things aren’t going to go your way. Stop whining about it, and take your position back.

My thoughts and prayers are certainly with Hamlin, but this incident shouldn’t have happened at all. NASCAR can address one of the problems (and should), but the drivers need to get a grip on reality. There’s a difference between standing your ground and sheer stupidity. It’s also ridiculous to get pissed off at someone else for something drivers do all the time. To sum this whole thing up … shut up and race!

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Razz
03/25/2013 02:31 AM
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Are
You
Freakin’
Serious????

Tony
03/25/2013 06:56 AM
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This wasn’t dirty driving just a guy driving over his head going for the win. Granted it probably wouldn’t have happened if if was someone else other than the 11 there but the intention was not to wreck denny, it was to win the race. That right there is racing. People often complain about drivers not trying hard enough to win. That was not the case yesterday.

Johnboy60
03/25/2013 07:49 AM
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God, I hate Joey “sissy boy” Logano…He still didn’t get what he deserves for his entire cup career has been one “incedent” after another. He was dead wrong with Hamlin and Tony’s excuse was wrong but his actions are deserved by Joey. First his Dad and now a crewman saving his butt…and the cheap shot throwing of a water bottle at Tony as he was being restrained! He will get his butt kicked and I hope tony or Carl Edwards are the ones to do it!!
Penalizing anyone other than the guy who jumped on Tony’s back would be a great injustice!!

Carl D.
03/25/2013 07:59 AM
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I don’t think the wreck was intentional, just the contact. Splitting hairs? Maybe.

steve
03/25/2013 08:30 AM
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It wasn’t so much Logano ‘screwing up the corner’ or ‘driving over his head’ or ‘deliberately wrecking Hamlin’ as it was him going into that last corner knowing that ’8 tires are better than 4’. Either his car held the line and he’d come out ahead of Hamlin or he’d get loose and come up into Hamlin with Hamlin taking the brunt of the contact and Logano coming out ahead. It’s a common maneuver, not dirty so much as hyper-aggressive.

And no, I am not a Logano fan

paltex
03/25/2013 09:19 AM
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Logano now has at least 2 drivers po at him. Next race!!! Danaca who?? just goes to show hype and racing does not go together

john
03/25/2013 09:55 AM
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That was good hard racing at the end. I really don’t think Logano intended to wreck Hamlin for the win, but he definitely intended a good door-to-door bang. He just screwed it up.

I’m not a Logano fan, but I’m glad to see him at least finally realizing his career was going nowhere, and he’s trying to do something about it. It’s lit a fire under him.

Bill B
03/25/2013 11:23 AM
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Not a fan of either Hamlin or Logano. What I saw was two guys that took the attitude “WE will wreck before I back down”. That’s the way it should be however too many times, thanks to points and the chase, one driver will back down settling for a good points day. They both went for broke and that’s the end result which, probably explains why we rearely see that attitude.

Dane
03/25/2013 11:23 AM
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You shouldn’t be allowed to write articles if you can’t tell the difference between wrecking someone and racing them hard. Yes, Joey gave Denny no room – why should he after last week – but no, he didn’t wreck him on purpose. Denny bumped Joey on purpose last week – he admitted that. Joey gave Denny no room this week, but he was trying to win the damn race. How many times have we seen drivers leaning on each other coming to the checkers?! See Busch and Larson last week – Busch pinched him because he was trying to win. That’s just the most recent of many, many times.

Frank
03/25/2013 12:08 PM
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I normally side with you,Summer, but not this time. Dirty racing? No. Hard racing between a couple of drivers who don’t care for each other? You betcha. It was the last corner of the race for the win, for crying out loud. Logano could have pushed Hamlin even higher into the wall if he was only after revenge.The fact that it was Hamlin he was racing with probably did play a part in that he raced him tough, but it was for the win. End of story.

SHOEMAN
03/25/2013 12:14 PM
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Tony sure did remind me a lot of his hero A J.

JDwag Jim
03/25/2013 02:55 PM
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Summer- you are seriously off the mark on this one. Someone would have to be pretty callous to want to do what happened to Denny, and I think the gist of your article is a leap in logic. Still love you, but you’re wrong on this one.

awww shucks
03/25/2013 03:24 PM
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can’t agree with this one. similar example (yes, i can’t let it go) was richmond fall race when the 18 raced so hard inside of the 88 and wrecked junior. inside car has a nice safety net with the outside car. i still think (opinion only) that hamlin turned left some to hook joey into the wall and then shot left towards the infield.

ginaV24
03/25/2013 04:15 PM
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Summer, I disagree with your point of view on this. IMO, BillB has it right and so do many of the others. End of the race, everyone wants to win and neither of those guys was going to back down because they don’t like each other. I’d rather have not seen a driver being loaded into an ambulance – I’m not a fan of either of these drivers, but I certainly enjoyed the racing part of it all. It was a nice change from the “after you” BS racing for points deal.

Steve
03/25/2013 04:26 PM
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Summer, think about it. If Joey really wanted to take Hamlin out he could have slowed down and jacknifed him. He didn’t but he sure didn’t make it easy for Denny to win the race.

In all honesty, and you can look at the finish again. After Joey leaned on him and Denny realized he wasn’t going to win the race, he tried to take Joey out, which he didn’t do enough to wreck him completely, but enough to disable his car where he limped across the line. Unfortunately, Denny ended up head on into the wall.

If anything, you should be taking out your issues with Hamlin.

FYI- I’m a fan of neither driver.

moprint
03/25/2013 07:45 PM
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I cant agree with this article at all. Hamlin tried to clip, and did, the right rear of the 22. He did this when he realized the 22 was gonna finish in front of him. Denny will never admit this though, he is injured through his own actions. Didnt the 11 have an in car camera, if it did it will tell the truth.

Joe..
03/25/2013 08:04 PM
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Summer, I’ve got to go with ginaV24 and Bill B on this one.

Wayne
03/26/2013 08:18 AM
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Summer great article!!!!!! These bone head idiots leaving these messages dont have a clue about racing. Keep writing the stories the way they should be written. With the truth and FACTS!!!!!!!!Stewart said it best Logano is a spoiled rich kid who never had to work for anything and had everything given to him. Logano has been a bust in NASCAR, just another wasted amount of time and effort. I am not a fan of any of the three drivers involved, but anyone with half a brain can tell by Logano’s actions on the track and comments after he had all intentions of wrecking Hamlin and nothing else. Keep writing the truth these people with their opinions are crazy. Some people, like myself, enjoy reading the facts. Thanks for your great work.

ginaV24
03/26/2013 10:02 AM
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Wayne must be related to Summer or he’s Kenny Wallace in disguise. LOL

Razz
03/26/2013 12:55 PM
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1. It was great racing. Wish we’d see more of it.
2. Tony Stewart is still a punk.
3. Amazingly, Kyle Bush wasn’t involved and actually showed patience and maturity … or else he just got lucky.
4. Blame for Hamlin’s injury belongs to the track and to NASCAR. But since it’s an ISC track and the France’s are never wrong, all we’ll hear is “blame Joey.”