March 22, 2013; Fontana, CA, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart (14) during practice for the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Making The Case For Joey Logano

Joey Logano isn’t making a lot of friends these days.  The much publicized feud between Logano and Denny Hamlin played out in real time yesterday, Tony Stewart has now made clear his feelings about the racing wunderkind and Kyle Busch’s victory at Fontana is just the latest in a line of collateral damage resulting from feuds within NASCAR’s top circuit.  I’m guilty of it myself: Busch’s victory gets just a passing glance in this article.

March 23, 2013; Fontana, CA, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Joey Logano (22) speaks with a crew member during practice for the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

A week after Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin traded barbs via Twitter, which I thought was somewhat contrived at the time, the stage was set for the two to continue their battle on the track.  What better way to decide a winner?

Not so fast. Both ended up losers and Busch sailed to victory. So we’ll have to wait.

It’s now being reported that Denny Hamlin suffered a compression fracture in his back meanwhile Joey Logano has cemented his reputation as the biggest instigator in the sport.  I don’t necessarily see too much wrong with the way Joey has been running his car.  It’s his personality that rubs people the wrong way.

In the past, a guy held his line or did what he had to do to win with 10 laps to go it was understood, appreciated even.  But, Stewart’s comment that he’s a “scared little kid” gives the clear impression that maybe the elder statesmen of the sport  don’t feel Logano has earned that right just yet.

Logano is supremely talented; you can’t deny him that.  He’s also 22 years old; he’s a kid – the youngest driver out there with the exception of Timmy Hill.  And with no disrespect to Hill, this makes Logano younger than anyone else of consequence right now.  Naturally, this turns the screw a little deeper even for the most successful guys out there. Stewart has 47 career wins and three Cups on his resume.  But he also has his fair share of notorious blocks that have ended badly, namely last year at Talladega.

I’ve made it clear that I’m a Tony Stewart fan and part of what drew me to him was his brash, outspoken nature and the fact that a lot of guys just didn’t seem to like him all that much.  The same can now be said for Logano.  If you listen to Joey’s comments following the race he makes a pretty clear case for himself but it doesn’t help his cause that Hamlin now has a broken back.  Logano even said so when speaking to ESPN after the race, “Would the race be different if it wasn’t for last week? Most likely,” he said.

He’s right.

We’ve long heard from drivers about everyone else’s double standard as if they, themselves, are the lone exception – Stewart talking about blocks when he’s been a prime offender, for example.  This year, Logano has done the same by calling out well-respected drivers, namely Hamlin, for their race tactics all the while he seems to be the common denominator.

If Tony Stewart’s response to the notion of Logano calling him to sort it out is any indication of how others might feel, Logano would do well to just keep his mouth shut and drive his car.  We’re all anxious to see what Joey can do, not so anxious to hear what Joey has to say.

That said, I do like him.


How do you feel?  Let me know on Twitter @fordNASCAR

Tags: Denny Hamlin Joey Logano Tony Stewart

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