I’ve said before that it’s rare that fans and competitors alike agree on anything, let alone nearly unanimous on the quality of a product. However, this is becoming more the case week in and week out. With few exceptions, the drivers are happy with the new package, the fans enjoy the racing it produces, and the crew chiefs enjoy the maneuverability they have in car setup and strategy calls before, during, and after the race. Everyone seems to be happy about the quality of the racing right now and in the direction the sport is heading when it comes to the competition.
However, it stands to reason that when there is more drivability in these cars, the drivers are able to move around more. When the drivers are able to move around and race each other more, there is bound to be contact.
And where there is contact, there are sure to be hurt feelings.
“Not sure what he (Logano) was thinking about at the time, but that hit spoiled our day.”
This coming from Martin Truex, Jr., one of a handful of drivers who left Auto Club Speedway angry with someone else. Truex finished 32nd after leading 21 laps and running in the top five for most of the race. Truex and Joey Logano were racing for position late in the race. While it didn’t appear the two made contact – and if they did, it was slight – at the very least, Logano took the air off of Truex’s spoiler. Truex got loose, slid up the track, hit the wall, sustained heavy right side damage, and was never able to fully recover.
Logano, for his part, was apologetic.
“It was completely my fault,” said Logano, who finished fourth. “I was gonna go in on the outside of him and he was gonna go in on the top as well and I just ended up being right on him. We never touched each other, but just taking the air off these cars makes them
uncontrollable. I didn’t mean to do that. I was gonna try to go to the top and I just got a little bit close to him and got him free, so I’m taking the hit on that one.”
Truex wasn’t quite ready to accept an apology.
“We had a good run going until the No. 22 (Joey Logano) put our car into the fence,” said Truex. “There was a lot of right-side damage to the car, and we were pretty much toast after that incident. Not sure what he (Logano) was thinking about at the time, but that hit spoiled our day. We went from being a contender to the back of the field. Really frustrating to have a good car and not have anything to show for it. I think we were running in or close to the top five when the (No.) 22 rammed our Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota.”
While Truex was frustrated, his crew chief Cole Pearn was apparently channeling his inner Mean Girl, sending out this nasty tweet pos-trace:
I mean … seriously? This coming from a Sprint Cup level crew chief? A simple “he ran out of talent” or “he needs to not drive so aggressively” would suffice. I don’t blame him for being upset, but sheesh … seems like a low blow. Insulting someone’s driving? Sure. Insulting part of their appearance? That’s the kind of thing that should only happen during reality TV shows and presidential elections (apparently).
However, Truex wasn’t the only driver with ruffled feathers post-race. Danica Patrick was none too happy with Kasey Kahne after Kahne – who was a lap down while Patrick was on the lead lap – hooked her right rear and sent her spinning hard into the outside wall. Kahne said it was an accident and there really wasn’t anything to indicate he did it intentionally. Still, though, the move was avoidable and displayed an unnecessarily aggressive move for a veteran like Kahne when, again, he wasn’t even racing Patrick for position.
“We were on a restart and I had a run on him so I went down low,” said Patrick, who finished 38th. “If you get too close to them then it will drag you both back. I was going low. I saw him chase me down the track and then the next thing I know I was getting spun up the track. I am I was passing him. He was behind me in the right rear.
“I don’t know what kind of day he was having. I just heard he was a lap down actually. I feel bad if he felt like he was put in a position to have to be that desperate a lap down. It’s just unfortunate; he must be having a very tough time. I was having a pretty good recovery day, kind of like last weekend.
“I was just running good race laps and on the lead lap at the end of the race back up into the top 20 from a bad starting position. And I was looking forward to a good finish and a good off week. Unfortunately now there is more work to be done at the shop, which is not I’m sure what they want, but we had a good TaxAct car and Billy (Scott, crew chief) did a good job to set-up for today and we were moving forward.”
After the wreck, Patrick walked out on to the racetrack to signal to Kahne how unhappy she was as he drove by. There were a couple of penalties last year (Trevor Bayne and Jennifer Jo Cobb most notably) where drivers were penalized for doing something similar. You have to wonder if Patrick will face some sort of retribution for doing so. Keep an eye out on Tuesday.
Kahne didn’t necessarily apologize for what happened, but attempted to explain himself:
“I passed her in (Turns) 3 and 4 and then she had the momentum off the top and went back under me going down the front stretch, so
I went just to kind of catch a side draft to make sure I was in position getting into Turn 1 and it didn’t hold me up when I got there because I was the one coming and I just got too close and the car was moving around and we hit and she had a bad wreck. I felt really bad because it was far from anything other than just trying to hold my position. I’ve never had an issue with Danica at all. It was an avoidable accident in the middle of the straightaway that was far from anything but just trying to hold my position that I had just gained.”
From these comments, you have to wonder if Kahne knew he was a lap behind her. This comment at least backed off of his in-car remarks where he claimed that she moved up the track and was partially at fault. Yes you will see a slight bobble in that replay from her, but Kahne definitely moved way further down to her than Patrick moved up to him.
Kahne, his spotter, and crew chief were all called to the NASCAR trailer after the race for the incident. According to Kahne’s comments after the fact, NASCAR just wanted to make sure that the move wasn’t intentional on his part and that the two drivers would be okay going forward. Though Kahne probably shouldn’t expect much room from Patrick in two weeks at Martinsville, it certainly doesn’t seem like there was any previous bad blood between the two.
For that matter, Logano probably shouldn’t expect much room from Truex at Martinsville, or frankly many other competitors last week. I don’t imagine you’ll see anything Matt Kenseth-esque, but certainly not a lot of give and take. Then again, maybe the tempers will have cooled again when the drivers return after an off week for the Easter holiday.
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