Off the track, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Dale Earnhardt could be your best friend. On the track, he could be your worst enemy.
Kyle Petty, one of Earnhardt’s contemporaries, sees only one driver in today’s Cup garage with the same dual mentality: Joey Logano, who won Monday’s dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“Beat you onto pit road, beat you off of pit road, beat you around to the start/finish line, beat you for 10th position, beat you for sixth position, beat you for the win – beat you, beat you, beat you,” Petty told Nate Ryan in the latest edition of the NASCAR on NBC podcast.
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“That’s what it’s all about for him. When he takes that helmet off, you want Joey to come to your house every day and hang out with you. He’s such a good guy. But he puts that helmet on, and he’s the caliber of race car driver, that of a Cale Yarborough, a Dale Earnhardt Sr., a Richard Petty and David Pearson, a Bobby Allison – that golden era where people weren’t friends.
“They were acquaintances, but they weren’t friends.”
Petty also noted that, like Earnhardt, Logano’s ruthlessness on the track appears to have given him a psychological edge over his rivals.
He brought up the instructions from Hamlin’s crew chief, Chris Gabehart, to his driver entering Monday’s overtime restart, in which Gabehart implored Hamlin to find a way around Logano.
“Joey already has them beat like Earnhardt used to, in a certain way,” Petty said. “You heard Gabehart say, ‘He’s the most aggressive guy in the sport.’
“When the crew chiefs and other teams are acknowledging that, I’ve gotta think those drivers, when they get in their helmets, they acknowledge it too.”
Instead of knocking Logano out of the way on the restart, Hamlin attempted to pass him on the outside and failed.
Logano went on to the victory, while Hamlin slipped to third at the finish.
For more reactions on the Bristol dirt weekend, check out the latest edition of the NASCAR on NBC podcast with Nate Ryan on all major podcast platforms.