“He’s just not that tough,” Hamlin said of Logano. “And he won’t stand face to face. That’s just his style.”
After spinning from contact with Hamlin with 40 laps remaining, Logano approached Hamlin in the postrace pits. They civilly exchanged words for a minute before Logano gave Hamlin a shot in the right shoulder. Hamlin went after Logano but was stopped by No. 22 crew chief Todd Gordon and PR representative Kyle Zimmerman as a scuffle erupted between their teams.
“I understand him coming over and talking, and I was standing there and having a discussion with him,” Hamlin told reporters in the postrace bullpen. “Everything was fine. I think he didn’t get me agitated enough. So he said something and then pokes a little bit and then runs away trying to get me to come (after him) so he could hide behind his guys.”
It’s the second time in the 2019 playoffs that Logano has angered Hamlin, who called the Team Penske driver “an idiot” after the Oct. 6 race at Dover International Speedway for racing hard while 24 laps down.
They openly feuded during the 2013 season (starting after the Daytona 500), including a similar scuffle between their teams after the March 17, 2013 race at Bristol Motor Speedway. A week later, Hamlin suffered a broken back while racing Logano for the lead on the last lap at Auto Club Speedway.
During an interview with NBCSN’s Parker Kligerman, Hamlin openly mocked Logano’s mannerisms in saying, “He probably would say, ‘Oh, short-track racing!'” and added, “So that’s Joey. Scared.”
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver said short-track racing was the simple explanation for how they got together shortly after a Lap 456 restart in which Logano started on the outside lane in fourth with Hamlin in fifth on the next row in the inside lane.
After being squeezed into the wall, Logano picked up a tire rub on his No. 22 Ford. He spun without making contact and brought out a yellow that helped him make a pit stop and rally for eighth after dropping to 19th with 40 laps left.
“We got together, and he cut a tire, which is very unfortunate for him but was not malicious by any means, but it just happened,” said Hamlin, who finished fourth. “I got tight off the corner, we made contact. It was going to be nothing more than a rub, but it looked like he cut a tire there. That part was unfortunate. We’re in tight confines.
“There’s going to be contact here and there. (Brad Keselowski) was beating the shit out of my rear bumper all day long. Jacking me sideways. Cutting me off. It’s just part of this whole thing. You got to just understand. Logano’s got to understand that not everything goes his way.”
NASCAR officials met after the fracas with Team Penske competition director Travis Geisler, No. 22 crew chief Todd Gordon and an unnamed Penske crew member who grabbed Hamlin. A spokesman said any penalties could be issued as early as Monday.
Said Hamlin’s crew chief, Chris Gabehart, who helped separate the drivers: “It’s just hard racing at Martinsville. Logano wanted to talk about it then he kind of walked away and took a cheap shot and Denny wasn’t good with that. We’re all good and we’ll go to Texas and race.”
Hamlin said he thought things with Logano were settled.
“I mean, we did talk,” Hamlin said. “Yeah, I told him that it was my fault. I came up the racetrack. We made contact obviously.
“But the end part is his fault. We can have (another) discussion. I had a discussion with him over two to three times about him blocking me and what is he doing at Dover and this that the other thing. That’s a discussion that men have, but he handles it differently because he’s immature.”