DOVER, Del. — Denny Hamlin questioned Joey Logano‘s driving as Logano ran in front of Hamlin while Hamlin sought to keep his lead late in stage 2 of Sunday’s Cup playoff race at Dover International Speedway.
Hamlin was frustrated with Logano because Logano was more than 20 laps down at the time. Martin Truex Jr. passed Hamlin with 12 laps to go to win stage 2.
“I thought (Logano) was trying to stay on the lead lap, but they said he was 24 laps down and so he was kind of air blocking us there and we lost the lead and lost stage 2,” Hamlin said after leading a race-high 218 laps and finishing fifth. “Then after that we lost control of the race and the track tightened and there were no cautions to pick up the rubber. Once we lost control, lost clean air, it was so difficult to pass. I needed to be up front with as tight as my car was. Lost the lead and backpedaled from there.”
Logano was in that situation after a mechanical failure sent him to the garage before the field took the green flag to begin the 400-lap race. Logano returned to the track 23 laps down and in last place (38th).
Logano defended how he raced Sunday after placing 34th and collecting three points. He is outside the final transfer spot via a tiebreaker with William Byron. Two races remain in the second round.
“I got to race,” Logano said. “Here’s the situation. There were four or five cars that I could possibly catch. That’s five points. I need all of them.
“When you think of that, I’ve got to try to stay on the lap that I’m on. I’ve got to try to get every car that I possibly can. I’m still racing. I ran as hard as I could this whole race. Don’t have anything to show for it. We ran it as if we were on the lead lap and did everything we possibly could to be better.”
Hamlin didn’t see the need for Logano to race him so hard toward the end of stage 2.
“Make a position? He’s 24 laps down,” Hamlin said. “That’s the most idiotic statement I’ve ever heard. We’re battling for the end of the stage, it’s not your day, you had bad luck, we get it but what, why? I don’t understand. I don’t understand that at all. That’s just a stupid statement by an idiot.”
So what would Hamlin have done if he was in that situation?
“You’ve got to get out of the way,” he said. “You’ve got to get out of the way when it’s not your day, when you’re 20-some laps down, you are not going to make those positions up. It ain’t going to make one position difference at any point of the race and it didn’t.
“It is proven, most of these guys would get out of the way and let those leaders race for the end of the stage at that time. … I probably shouldn’t call Joey an idiot. He’s not an idiot. That’s just a bad choice to say that he’s fighting for something. He’s not fighting for anything. He needs to just run around the race track, stay in one lane, maybe the high lane, because nobody is running up there, get the laps over with, get the race over with, go home and work on it at Talladega to try to win that race.”
Hamlin said he “gets it, everybody races hard. If you’re one lap down I even get, even two, but not 24.
“That frustrates me because it’s just a lack of philosophy that I just don’t understand. All he did was piss some people off and what did he really gain? He didn’t gain anything. He just pissed off some guys that he’s racing with now. So now we’re going to race him extra hard for what? For the reason he didn’t want to go 26 laps down? Anybody would tell you that’s just not a good choice.
“Through these playoffs you’ve got to not have enemies. You’ve got to have give-and-take.”