We’ve all experienced them at some time in our life: the mom or dad that thinks their kid is the next coming of Pele’ or Pete Rose. They are in the stands, or worse, the coach of a team, and they are constantly on the referee or the umpire complaining about how their kid is being treated unfairly and not getting a fair shake compared to everyone else.
In the worst case scenario, the overbearing parent interjects themselves into the game and berates another competitor or the other coach. It can be a terribly embarrassing situation for the kids and is a horrible example to the children about how to conduct themselves in a competitive situation.
While Tom Logano might not be to that extreme, this weekend’s actions at Pocono Raceway are at least the second documented case of Joey Logano’s father getting more involved in his off-track activities than he should.
Logano crossed the finish line 13th thanks to the major pile-up at the end of the race at Pocono this past weekend. Unfortunately, that was at least eight places worse than where he should have finished. Logano spent the second half of the race in the top 10 and was in fourth place coming to the white flag when he and Kevin Harvick, who was directly behind him in fifth, went for the same piece of real estate in turn 3. The end result was Logano going for a prolonged slide through 80% of the corner and sending up a smoke screen that could be seen in Punxsutawney. As a result, NASCAR threw the caution flag and Logano lined up 30th for the green-white-checkered finish.
After the race was completed, Logano stopped his car next to Harvick’s on pit lane and the excitement was just beginning.
Logano revved his engine to give Harvick a warning of his displeasure, and then climbed from the car fully intending to share his opinions of Harvick’s driving ability when he was stopped by a member of the Joe Gibbs Racing organization. At that point, Tom Logano intervened and appeared to tell the gentleman to allow Joey to settle his dispute on his own. Joey tried his best to get close enough to Harvick to explain just how unhappy he was with the Harvick’s decision to not move slightly to the left and allow both of them to make it through the turn, but a large contingent of Harvick’s crew and at least one NASCAR official prevented that.
It was at this point that it seems the elder Logano overstepped his bounds that are provided by him being the father of a Cup Series competitor. There was apparently a member of the television production team attempting to cover the events as they transpired and Tom Logano forcibly moved them aside. It is one thing for Mr. Logano to move a member of Joe Gibbs Racing aside, but it is completely inappropriate for him to interact in such an unprofessional way with someone unaffiliated with the organization or his own family.
NASCAR was of the same opinion and summoned Tom to the big yellow trailer after learning about the post-race activities. It was originally reported that Joey had been called to the principal’s office, but that was not true. When he arrived along with his father, the younger Logano was informed that his presence was not required. NASCAR Series Director John Darby had no problem with Harvick’s or Logano’s actions on Sunday, as he told the media later.
“We don’t have any issue with Joey,” Darby said. “We don’t have any issue with Kevin Harvick. That’s something Joey and Kevin will work out. We didn’t see any necessary harm or foul.”
Darby’s problem was with Tom Logano, and the problem stems from his actions which, according to Darby, crossed a line in the sand when it comes to actions that are acceptable for a parent in the Cup garage. The patriarch of the Logano family needs to understand that his son is a big boy and has to handle his own battles.
Logano deserves huge kudos for his driving ability during the contact with Harvick, because it is nearly impossible to get hit where he did and not make contact with a wall somewhere on the track. Logano not only didn’t hit anything, he maintained his composure and drove adroitly through the fiasco on the Long Pond straightaway during the last lap.
It was also refreshing to see him actually show his competitive fire. There is no question that he is a smooth customer on the track and a polished driver off it, but Sunday allowed everyone to have a glimpse of the inner fire that has driven him to make it to this point in his career. There have been times during his young career when he’s been pushed and tested by some more experienced drivers and has always handled it with class, but has never shown any form of anger like he did on Sunday. There are probably several people in the garage who are looking at Joey Logano with a much different attitude today than they did last week.
Tom Logano has made some incredible sacrifices in his life to see his son make it in big time stock car racing. He has given his son every opportunity and his son has succeeded at every turn until he has now made it to the top level of his sport. Now it is time for Joey to stand on his own merit and his father needs to let him do so — sit back, encourage him and appreciate the skills that his son displays on a weekly basis.