One of the enduring images from this past weekend’s Carfax 400 at Michigan International Speedway, was the “confrontsation” between Joey Logano and Ryan Newman. Following a lap 149 incident that say Newman sent spinning by Logano’s No. 20 Home Depot Camry that looked about as stable and controlled as a shopping car with a wobbly wheel, Logano went up to Newman in the garage area after the race. What looked to be a normal talk-it-out-session looked like it was about to quickly escalate.
The exchange was caught by the television crew, and the audio made for fun listening. The Reader’s Digest version of it was essentially, Logano thinks Newman was racing him too hard, and it there was still too much time remaining in the race to be racing so hard. Newman’s reply was “I don’t give a $***” – a remark that seemed to be a rather popular one at the track and in post-race interviews this weekend – that he was racing for points and trying to get into the championship Chase, and that Logano should have been more concerned with keeping his car under control than waiting for Newman to pull over for him.
Everybody seems to have an opinion on this one – who was at fault? Burnt Toast Logano or Blockhead Newman? So who’s right? They both are. Who’s wrong? Ryan and Joey.
With 52 laps to go at MIS, it was time to go for Newman, who although had a slim chance at qualifying for the Chase, had a chance nonetheless. Until you are mathematically eliminated, you need to go all out for your team, your sponsors, your fans and most importantly yourself. Logano criticized Newman for racing everybody hard. Well, this is the most competitive form of motorsports in North America, and he is paid a fabulous sum of money to do so – so why wouldn’t he, particularly when the lure of the Chase is out there for a team whose sponsorship picture, while complete, still may have some holes to fill in the future. Sure, Tony Stewart might have made mention of Newman racing hard all the time, but he can do that because A. He’s the team owner, B. He’s his friend, and C. Tony’s the one paying Ryan to do just that to help make him money.
To Logano’s point, yeah, Newman probably should have back off a little bit. Logano ended up with a 10th-place finish and Newman slid back to a 23rd-place finish after damage to the left-rear quarter of the No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet lost substantial side-force on the 2-mile oval that is a constant turn for about 1.5 miles. Had he let up a bit, he would have preserved his car near the top 10 and would be sitting 65-70 points from 12th now, not 103 in arrears with three races remaining. Newman said he was unconcerned about giving Logano room due to how wide MIS is and the number of lanes afforded to him. Had he worked on him a few laps or ran a different line, he could have also prevented what happened – after all, he made mention that he has trouble controlling his racecar; so why would he lay his door against his car out the outside of Logano through a 170-mph corner?
Logano at 20 years of age is trying to gain the respect and confidence of his contemporaries, but has ruffled more than a few feathers this year, drawing the ire of Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick and now Newman. The case could be made that each of those are incidents that have been precipitated by “the other guy” as the antagonist, but with as many years as he has ahead of him, it might behoove Logano to take a step back and re-evaluate how he has been dealing with some of his fellow competitors. It isn’t like he is a dirty driver or unskilled – far from it and the polar opposite. His exercises in diplomacy may need some brushing up; he’s not exactly Henry Kissinger or James Baker lately.
Newman on the other hand didn’t exactly do himself much of a favor by racing so hard with Logano, and with 51 laps to go, there was time for him to race a little more strategic than tactical. After all, it wasn’t like there were any other cars within 100 yards of him once he would have gotten back past Logano. He even received a bit of an admonishment from his own crew on the radio once he got his car righted and headed to pit road. Having over eight years of experience and an engineering degree, one might expect Newman to be a bit more calculating.
Whatever your opinion on the incident, it’s probably the correct one. Ryan Newman might be wrong, but Joey Logano isn’t right.