With the images still fresh in everybody’s memory of Joey Logano being sent for a long lurid four-wheel drift through the third turn at Pocono last Sunday, and the who where’s the firesuit in the family crack still ringing in our ears, Kevin Harvick held court in the Media Center yesterday at Michigan International Speedway and cleared the air on how things got to this point with the 20-year old phenom.
Following the well documented last lap tap that sent Logano spinning around in a cloud of smoke that was preceded by 40 laps of “chopping” by Logano that eventually lead to contact between the two. There was more that lead up to Sunday’s most recent last lap tap between these two, that culminate into a confrontation on pit road, that saw Joey’s father Tom Logano, direct his son to confront the driver who had just spun him out for the second time this season.
“We go to Nashville (Nationwide race), we’re done with Bristol. His dad has physical contact with one of my PR people. I said, “OK Joey, the best thing you can do is get your dad under control.” He turned around laughed and said, “do you really think that’s a big deal?” So now obviously it’s a big deal. So at that particular point I said, he doesn’t want to take any advice or talk about things or how to handle things other than his own way.”
“We go to Phoenix. Crashes into the back of me tries to spin me out going down the straight away; [I] blow it off. Go to Richmond, last restart, bumps me out of the way, lose four or five spots. So at that point, I get out of the car, tell him how I feel.”
“We go to Pocono, race hard, things happen. That’s how you have to race him from my standpoint.”
Harvick maintains he had tried to talk things out with Logano, but the young driver was not as concerned about it as he was.
“I tried to break the ice at Nashville at driver intros, and he basically turned around and told me that his dad having a problem with our PR person was not a big deal and pretty much laughed in my face. At this point it’s up to him. I’d love to work it out.”
Harvick is no stranger to controversy or conflict. He too had a memorable run in with a veteran before, Ricky Rudd at Richmond in 2003, that ended up with Harvick’s crewmen stomping on Rudd’s car on pit road.
“It’s at that particular stage where it’s up to him where he wants it to go into and how he wants to play the game. I’m fine with it – I’ve been on both sides of it.”
Harvick respects Logano’s ability behind the wheel, but needs some direction on how to better handle himself in the car and out of it.
“Joey Logano is a good racecar driver. He deserves to be here – he is going to have a long career at his level. The hardest part to figure out about this sport is how the politics work, how the on-track stuff works and how to handle yourself as a racecar driver – and unfortunately he’s 20. There’s a big step that needs to be taken – obviously from shedding the dad. That’s the big thing – after the race dad is up in the face of the motorhome driver’s face chanting and hollering; those things don’t need to happen.”
Tom Logano – the recently much maligned father of Joey Logano – seemed to draw the ire of Harvick more so than Joey himself, saying, “in my opinion, he gets bad advice on how he needs to race.”
“He gets pushed and it’s very evident who’s pushing him the most. His dad shoved him into a pile like a dog chasing after a bone. That could have escalated into something that it didn’t need to be.”
It should be noted that Joe Gibbs Racing has confirmed that Tom Logano will not be attending the race this weekend at Michigan International Speedway. The Charlotte Observer is also reporting that NASCAR suggested it might be a good idea for Tom Logano to take a break from the track for a while, and thus is expected to be out of the competition area for several races.