Joey Logano says NASCAR “must do something” to keep cars on the ground after his went airborne in last weekend’s Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.
He advocates reducing the rear spoiler as a step in the process he discussed Tuesday on “The Morning Drive” on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. But he also said more would need to be done with such a change.
Logano noted that his accident could have had similar repercussions as Ryan Newman’s crash on the last lap of the 2020 Daytona 500. After contact with another car, Newman’s car was turned into the wall and went into the air. While upside down, Newman’s car was struck by Corey LaJoie’s car. Newman was hospitalized for two days and missed three races as he recovered from a head injury. NASCAR later responded with safety changes.
“I want to be an advocate for change for our sport to look at ways to be better,” Logano said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “I know we have the Next Gen car coming (next year). We think that will be better, but we have two more races on superspeedways this year and we must do something because we cannot afford to lose one of our competitors.”
Logano said the key questions should be: “How do we keep these things on the ground? How do we change the runs?”
He said NASCAR needs to reduce the rear spoiler, which is 9 inches tall at Talladega and Daytona.
“The spoiler creates, in my opinion, the runs that we see,” Logano said. “The big runs that create the pushes and the shoves. Cars don’t crash in the corners anymore. They crash down the straightaways from pushing.
“We need to create a little bit more bubble and more space between cars like we used to have. We’ll still have pack racing, just like we’ve always had. We’ll still have ‘the big one’ (crash), but it won’t happen as frequently, and I think that is good. Also with the big spoiler, when the car goes backwards, it’s creating lift and maybe not allowing the roof flaps to do its job, either.
“Those things, to me, (are) probably the easiest fix. It sounds like a quick, easy fix … obviously, you’ve got to balance it with the splitter and then you have to adjust the engine package to go with it because the drag you would be taking off the car would be drastic. There are ripple effects that have to go through engine guys, team owners, drivers, everyone would have to get on the same page, competition directors.”
Travis Geisler, competition director at Team Penske, said Sunday that the rear spoiler could be a place for possible changes.
“Certainly, no question, the size of the rear spoiler is challenging to overcome,” he said. “When you get backwards with that much kind of in the air, it’s a lot to deal with. That’s something we’ll try to learn. There’s only two more (superspeedway races this season) left, but one more race left is too many if you’re not 100% sure you’re as safe as you can be. We’ll do what we can there, try to learn with the NASCAR folks, try to address anything we can. Certainly car-wise, we’ll do the same.”
Logano’s crash started on the backstretch when the top line was bunched. Denny Hamlin, running fourth in line, had a run and went to pull down to the middle lane. As he made his move, contact from behind by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. knocked Hamlin’s car into Logano’s car.
That contact turned Logano’s car to the left in front of traffic. As Logano’s car slid, Stenhouse’s car clipped it, turning it backward. Air got under Logano’s car, lifting it and turning it over. It landed upside down and was grazed by Bubba Wallace’s car.
Logano said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that after exiting the car he was happy to have survived the incident. He noted that he walked into the infield care center “with my hands up in the air screaming that I was happy, I was happy to be here.”
He said his mood changed as he waited to do his interviews after exiting the infield care center. Logano said he got mad. That’s when he said:
“I am wondering when we are going to stop because this is dangerous doing what we are doing,” he said. “I got a roll bar in my head. That is not okay. I am one hit away from the same situation Ryan Newman just went through (in the 2020 Daytona 500). I just don’t feel like that is acceptable.
“A lot of it is the big spoiler and the big runs and all the pushing. It is nobody’s fault. Denny (Hamlin) is trying to go, and (Stenhouse) is trying to go. It is a product of this racing. We have to fix it though. Someone already got hurt and we are still doing it, so that’s not real smart.”
Logano said he talked with NASCAR leadership Sunday night after returning home from Talladega.
“We have the safest cars in motorsports, period,” Logano said. “But we have that because of the attitude we’ve had over the years to continue to be better, and we can’t stop that because we have the best now. We have to keep continuing to be better.”
Scott Miller, NASCAR vice president of competition, told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Monday that the sanctioning body will see “if there is something else we can do immediately” to keep cars from getting airborne.”
The next superspeedway race is the regular season finale on Aug. 28 at Daytona. The final superspeedway race of the season is the Oct. 3 playoff race at Talladega.
“We’re going to make it better, no matter what, because we have a lot of smart people with big hearts that care,” Logano said. “That’s exciting for me. (I) look forward to see what comes up here the next few weeks.”
— SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90) (@SiriusXMNASCAR) April 27, 2021