Denny Hamlin takes verbal jab at Joey Logano, No. 22 team

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Denny Hamlin took a verbal poke at Joey Logano and criticized Logano’s crew chief for a “lack of control” of his team Friday at Texas Motor Speedway.

Hamlin and Logano made contact late in last week’s playoff race at Martinsville Speedway, cutting Logano’s tire. Logano approached Hamlin after the race to discuss the issue and punctuated the discussion by shoving Hamlin, triggering an altercation.

Hamlin and Logano have a history that goes back to 2013 to a confrontation after the Bristol spring race and an on-track incident the following week at Auto Club Speedway that injured Hamlin.

Asked Friday if he ever gets the feeling that Logano knows he can get to him, Hamlin said: “No. He’s not that smart.”

“He touched me first. First thing, as a man, you can’t just let that stuff happen. That’s the first thing.”

Logano later said he shouldn’t have shoved Hamlin but “I really wanted to go over and talk to him and get his side of the story of what happened and he just said I ran up into the wall basically and wasn’t as apologetic as I was looking for and that escalated the situation too much. I shouldn’t have shoved him.”

After Logano shoved Hamlin on the right shoulder, Logano walked away. Hamlin followed and crew members joined in.

NASCAR suspended Logano’s tire specialist, Dave Nichols Jr., for this weekend’s event at Texas Motor Speedway for grabbing Hamlin from behind and tossing him to the ground during the pit road scuffle.

Hamlin said he agreed with the suspension.

“My agitation with that guy is he’s the first one in all of Joey’s confrontations,” Hamlin said of Nichols. “You go back and look. He dives in there and starts most of this stuff.”

Hamlin also was critical of Logano’s crew chief, Todd Gordon, for the role Nichols played in the incident.

“I thought my guys were pretty level, to be honest with you, through that whole deal,” Hamlin said of his crew. “I think you could see quite a few times that Joey is right in front of them and no one lays a hand on Joey. I think it’s just a lack of control that Todd has got with his people.”

Gordon said earlier this week on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “the direction that our organization has is (to) separate drivers. We don’t want to have drivers beating on each other. Unfortunately, in this situation that happened there, the separation was with too much power afterward and I don’t think the crew member … he was trying to separate the drivers and did so with probably more force than he anticipated and he’s regretful of that.”

Gordon was among those who stepped in between the drivers seeking to keep the situation from escalating.

Logano defended Gordon on Friday after hearing Hamlin’s comments.

“Here are the facts,” Logano said. “I think Todd has great control of our race team and is a great crew chief and does a great job leading all of us. I said it after the race to TV that I probably shouldn’t have gone down there looking for an apology for something he probably wasn’t going to apologize for and I let my emotions get the best of me. That was a mistake on my part. I probably didn’t handle that correctly. It doesn’t make what he did on the race track right, but I think at the same time he will probably play that card as much as he wants, he can run his mouth as much as he wants. I am going to run my race and we will see who ends up ahead.”

Last weekend was the first time that Hamlin and Logano have had issues in this year’s playoffs.

Hamlin chastised Logano at Dover when Logano, running 24 laps down, didn’t move over for Hamlin, who was leading. Hamlin was stuck behind Logano and that allowed Martin Truex Jr. to close and get by to win the second stage.

“All he did was piss some people off and what did he really gain? He didn’t gain anything,” Hamlin said after the Dover race. “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.”

How much did what happen at Dover play a role in how closely Hamlin raced Logano at Martinsville, leading to their contact?

“I would lean more toward racing circumstances, but absolutely I take into account who is besides me at all times and I was not going to give one inch,” Hamlin said Friday at Texas. “I misjudged. The on-track stuff was definitely my fault. There was no intention to run into him or run him into the wall or anything like that because I put myself at a pretty big risk there cutting a tire as well.

“I was just trying to use all the space I could. Certainly if it was a teammate or someone else beside me or just really anyone, yeah, I probably don’t gas it up quite as soon and try to take all that space but certainly all that stuff plays its factors for sure.”

Logano suggested that Hamlin needs to be careful.

“I have nothing to be careful about, he wrecked me,” Logano said. “I don’t race him any differently. I am not sure he has handled this the smartest way so far.”

Hamlin also stated Friday that he will have offseason surgery on his right shoulder for a torn labrum.

“I really don’t know how it happened to be honest with you, but it’s something that has been nagging really for years,” Hamlin said. “I’ve had shoulder issues. It just got to the point where it was really bad and got it scanned and figured out what it was. It hadn’t really affected me in the car at all. That part has really been fine.”

Hamlin said he had a cortisone shot a few weeks ago on the shoulder.

“It was just progressively getting worse over the late summer to early fall,” Hamlin said. “So just a few weeks ago the doctors came and gave me a little bit of relief with that just kind of to get me into the offseason where I can fix it.”

NASCAR Pinty’s Series to compete on dirt for first time in 2020

NASCAR Pinty's Series
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NASCAR’s continued embrace of dirt racing will continue in 2020 with the Canada-based Pinty’s Series.

The series announced on Friday a multi-year deal that will see it compete on a dirt track for the first time next season at Ohsweken Speedway in Ontario.

The event on the 3/8-mile track will consist of practice, time trials, qualifying heats, and a 100-lap feature event to be run at 9 p.m. ET on Aug. 18.

The series follows in the steps of the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series and its yearly visit to Eldora Speedway, which began in 2013. It also joins the ARCA Menards Series West, which has held a race on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Dirt Track the last two seasons.

“Next year is the 25th anniversary of Ohsweken Speedway,” said track owner Glenn Styres in a press release. “It will be amazing to see NASCAR stock cars racing around this place. This is a great chance to show the world what a first class facility we have here in Ohsweken.”

“Pinty’s has a long history in motorsports and whether it’s our NASCAR Pinty’s Series venues, Short Track Nationals at both Jukasa in Canada and Bristol in the USA or our investment in Pinty’s All North Racing on MavTV, we know our target audience lives for authentic experiences.” said Anthony Spiteri of series sponsor Pinty’s Delicious Foods in a press release.. “Taking the Pinty’s Series to the ever popular Ohsweken Speedway combines the best of the best in teams, drivers and venues. I suspect a few surprises for our fans as well!  August can’t come quick enough.”

Joey Logano set to test Next Gen car today, Tuesday at ISM Raceway

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Joey Logano will become the second Cup driver to test the Next Gen car when he hits the track today and Tuesday at ISM Raceway.

This test of the car, which is scheduled to debut in 2021, follows the session that took place Oct. 8-9 at Richmond Raceway by Austin Dillon. Logano will drive the same car that Dillon did. That car was prepared by Richard Childress Racing.

Logano explained what he was looking forward to with the new car:

“Just understanding, for one, just some durability stuff but also understanding what works and what doesn’t. I’d like to, once we get to some point, I’d like to make some longer runs just to kind of see where things go. There are so many differences with the car that we need to understand.

“I think it’s still very much in the beginning of the process. I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to getting back in a race car.

Logano said he was “curious” how the car would drive with the independent rear suspension.

“I think that will be interesting to say the least,” he said.

The next text for the car is scheduled in January at Homestead-Miami Speedway. That will mark the car’s first test on a 1.5-mile track.

Rain washes out Snowball Derby, rescheduled to Monday

Five Flags Speedway
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Rain has postponed the 52nd Snowball Derby Super Late Model race from Sunday to Monday at 5 p.m. ET/4 p.m. CT at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.

Track officials tried several times to dry the track, only to be met with recurrences of rain.

Even with the rain issue, one bit of significant news was announced: the track is granting a special provisional exception and expanded the race day field from its normal 36-driver field to 37 drivers. The reason: veteran racer David Rogers was presented with the Derby Dedication Award for his 32 previous starts in the Snowball Derby.

Monday will make Roger’s 33rd career start in the annual pre-winter event, breaking a tie with legendary driver Red Farmer for most starts in the race.

Rogers has had a challenging year, having battled and then overcoming lymphoma. Monday’s rescheduled race will be the Florida resident’s first start behind the wheel since he was officially declared cancer-free.

“David’s Snowball Derby dedication has been unmatched in the history of this race,” Five Flags Speedway owner Tim Bryant said in a statement.  “We felt like being in this race served as real motivation for David in his battle with cancer this year, and we wish him the best of luck in today’s race.”

Also, driver Justin Bonnett, grandson of late NASCAR star Neil Bonnett, is recovering in a Mobile, Alabama hospital after undergoing surgery to repair a broken leg and treat burns to his face, hands and body. Bonnett was involved in a crash and subsequent fireball created by a fuel cell that broke away from a fellow competitor’s race car during Saturday night’s Snowflake 100 race at Five Flags Speedway.

 

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UPDATED: Neil Bonnett’s grandson seriously injured in fiery crash

Photo courtesy Justin Bonnett Racing official Facebook page
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The grandson of late NASCAR Cup star Neil Bonnett was seriously injured in a crash during Saturday night’s Snowflake 100 late model race at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.

Justin Bonnett suffered a compound fracture of the fibula and tibula and burns to his hands, face and neck in a fiery wreck that prompted him to be transferred to a hospital in Mobile, Alabama, according to a post on his team’s Facebook page.

According to various media reports, Bonnett was running 26th on Lap 54 when he was unable to avoid and made contact with the spinning car of Jarrett Parker.

Driving the No. 12, the same number his late grandfather carried for much of his Cup career, the younger Bonnett’s car was engulfed in flames after the fuel tank on Parker’s car became dislodged and caught fire, spilling fuel and flames across the racetrack. Here is a video of the incident, courtesy of Joshua Nelms, who shot the video, and Sidedrafting Productions, which posted it.

Bonnett’s car came to a stop on the apron between turns three and four, where he was quickly pulled from his car by safety crews, who also extinguished the fire. The race was red-flagged for a lengthy period of time afterward.

According to media reports, the 26-year-old Bonnett was taken by ambulance to a local Pensacola hospital, where he was briefly treated before he was airlifted to a hospital in Mobile.

It was upon arrival at the Mobile hospital that it was determined Bonnett would undergo late night surgery, according to several posts on his Facebook page, written by his aunt and Neil’s daughter, Kristen Bonnett Ray.

Later Sunday morning, Bonnett’s aunt posted this update on his condition:

Justin Bonnett still lives in Hueytown, Ala., home of the famous “Alabama Gang,” of which his grandfather was part of, as well as Bobby and Donnie Allison, Red Farmer, Jimmy Means, the late Davey Allison, Hut Stricklin and David Bonnett, Justin’s father.

The Snowflake 100 was a preliminary race for Sunday’s main event, the 52nd annual Snowball Derby. The 300-lap race starts at 2 p.m. ET.

Here are several additional posts on Bonnett’s wreck from social media:

 

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