Lesson learned: Joey Logano admits he should have called Matt Kenseth last year


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Nearly a year after a retribution-seeking Matt Kenseth sent Joey Logano’s championship hopes crashing into a wall, Logano admits he would have changed one thing about what happened between the two drivers.

He would have called Kenseth.

A year ago, Kenseth spun after contact from Logano in the final laps at Kansas during the Chase as they raced for the win. Logano celebrated. Kenseth seethed.

Kenseth said that day that Logano’s decision “strategically” wasn’t the best. Logano called it hard racing, noting how Kenseth blocked him.

But any comments they made were done through the media. Logano admitted he wasn’t sure what good a call would do, fearing Kenseth was “going to be more mad (and) I could make this worse.’’

So Logano never called, never texted and never reached out to Kenseth, who stewed and made his move three weeks later at Martinsville.

Already upset after contact with Logano’s teammate, Brad Keselowski, Kenseth later turned his wrecked car into Logano’s. Kenseth’s move took Logano out of the lead, costing Logano a possible win and advancement to the championship round. Logano’s Chase ended in that round.

Tuesday, Logano talked about that incident and what he’s learned since.

“I think you grow from every situation you’re put in,’’ he said at a media event promoting Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “In all honesty, what would I do different? I probably would have picked up the phone. Maybe we would have disagreed then and nothing changed, but at least I called. I didn’t know what I was going to say, and I didn’t think it was anything he wanted to hear.’’

Logano said his attitude also has changed in recent years.

He admits his attitude used to be more like “I’m here to win, and I don’t care if someone doesn’t like me.’’

That was evident in previous confrontations with Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin.

That’s not how Logano views things now.

“I over-communicate more,’’ Logano said. “If someone gave me extra room on the race track one day, I make sure they know, thank you.’’

Logano said he texted Stewart a thank you note after Sunday’s race at Dover International Speedway. Stewart’s pit stall was in front of Logano. Because Logano was in front of Stewart throughout the race, Logano would exit his stall when Stewart was still in his under caution. Logano said Stewart gave Logano “plenty of room” to exit his stall.

Logano also become more friendly to other drivers, particularly younger drivers in the series.

“It has been fun to build those relationships up and create those friendships,’’ he said. “It’s easier now because a lot of the guys are my age. You have a lot in common. You’re able to talk to them about stuff that is not racing, which is kind of fun.’’

Logano admits they’re still competitors and things can happen between them but he now better knows how to diffuse a tense situation and prevent it from escalating.