Joey Logano’s message to Denny Hamlin: ‘I’m tougher than he thinks’

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FORT WORTH, Texas – Joey Logano says he isn’t proud of the way he handled his disagreement at Martinsville Speedway with Denny Hamlin, but the defending series champion isn’t backing down, either.

I have nothing to be careful about, he wrecked me,” Logano said when asked Friday at Texas Motor Speedway if he would be more careful around Hamlin in this season’s three remaining races. “I don’t race him any differently. I am not sure he has handled this the smartest way so far.”

The Team Penske driver struck a repentant yet strident tone when rehashing the postrace fracas in the pits last Sunday that resulted in a one-race suspension for his tire specialist, Dave Nichols, who pulled Hamlin to the concrete.

Earlier Friday in the Texas media center, Hamlin said Logano “wasn’t that smart” and accused No. 22 crew chief Todd Gordon of lacking control over his crew members.

Logano smiled when told of Hamlin’s comments.

I am sure he will turn it in that way,” Logano said. “Here are the facts: 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 (Hamlin) 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.”

Logano laughed off Hamlin’s mocking impersonation after the Martinsville race, saying Hamlin “missed it a little bit.”

Asked whether Hamlin was trying to play mind games, Logano responded, “He can try. I am a little tougher than he thinks. … He is handling it a different way than I would have, but we aren’t the same person and that is OK. Whatever you are into.

“However you want to handle things. Like I said, I am not proud of the way I handled it, but I am going to be man enough to fess up to that and own that. Outside of that, I move on and whatever he wants to say, I could really give a crap.”