Lugnuts: It Was Wild In California
Did you see yesterday’s race at Auto Club Speedway? I hope so. If not, you missed an amazing race. What? You don’t believe me? It’s true. Yesterday’s race was a wild one, and it all went down at the much-maligned two-mile oval in Southern California. There was a lot of passing, lead changes, a crash at the end, and another fight on pit road. Oh yeah, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. is now the points leader. Like I said, it was a wild day.
Everybody was nervous after Daytona and Phoenix that the new race car wouldn’t live up to the hype. That it was going to fall flat on its face and the racing was going to be worse than it was with the CoT platform. Then we went to Las Vegas and it put on a pretty good race. Then we went to Bristol and it put on an amazing race. But one could have said, “Well, it’s Bristol. It’s hard not to put on a good race there,” and you’d be right in saying that. But then we went to California. A race track that many have hated since it opened because most feel that the track races like a parade. But yesterday’s race was not at all like that.
The new car put on one heck of a show in Southern California. The racing throughout much of the race was great, but the racing over the last 20 laps was amazing. If the new car can put on races like that at the intermediate tracks every time, nobody will ever complain about boring racing in NASCAR ever again.
Now hopefully NASCAR can fix the boring racing we saw at Daytona in February.
Denny Hamlin vs. Joey Logano Part 2
So last week we saw Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano go at it after they tangled on the track in Bristol. Logano said he would get Hamlin back, but everybody expected that wouldn’t happen until the Sprint Cup Series went to Martinsville in two weeks. Hamlin didn’t expect it to happen at all. He said after the Bristol race that he wasn’t worried because Logano isn’t usually near him anyway.
But there they were at the end of yesterday’s race battling for the win. Hamlin had fresher tires by 22 laps. Logano had a busted front splitter and was spitting water for the last six laps from an overheating issue. And yet the fight lasted all the way to the exit of turn four on the last lap. The two were so focused on battling each other that they forgot about Kyle Busch. Busch flew by on the outside and went on to the win, but behind him Logano and Hamlin crashed each other. Logano got turned into the outside wall, and Hamlin went head-on into the inside wall where there’s no SAFER Barrier.
Hamlin’s hit was brutal. He got out of the car under his own power, but immediately went down to the ground. He was placed on a backboard and taken to the infield care center. He was eventually taken to a local hospital where he stayed overnight. Joe Gibbs Racing team president J.D. Gibbs said he expected Hamlin to be okay. Hamlin’s girlfriend Jordan Fish said it was his back that they were worried about. Hamlin does have a history of back problems as well.
Logano said after the race that he didn’t feel bad about the crash. He said that after what Hamlin did to him in Bristol, Hamlin deserved what he got. At the time of saying that Logano was not aware that Hamlin was being taken to a hospital. He did say on ESPN after the race that he wasn’t trying to hurt him and felt bad that he was hurt.
But Logano made it very clear that Hamlin was not winning that race. And he made sure that didn’t happen. But perhaps Logano should have worried more about him winning the race instead of Hamlin not winning.
Tony Stewart vs. Joey Logano
Man, this Logano kid just is not making any friends out there. Yesterday saw part two of the Logano/Hamlin rivalry take place, and it also saw another one begin between Logano and Tony Stewart.
Stewart went after Logano on pit road after the race. He parked in front of Logano, got out of the car and started throwing some punches. The fight was quickly broken up by the crew members, but not before Logano tossed his water bottle at Stewart just like Rusty Wallace did to Dale Earnhardt at Bristol in 1995.
Stewart said that he was angry that Logano blocked him on the final restart. I can see why Stewart was angry. He went from third with 11 laps to go all the way back to 22nd. I guess he attributes that mostly to Logano’s block.
Stewart is always angry when people block him. But Stewart is the biggest offender of blocking. Does he not remember causing a 30-car crash last October at Talladega? He threw a block on Michael Waltrip. Remember when Stewart said after the 2006 Budweiser Shootout that we’ll kill someone by blocking and then blocked Matt Kenseth into the backstretch grass a week later in the Daytona 500? Stewart blocks all the time. I guess when Stewart gets angry with blocking it’s in a “Do as I say, not as I do” way.
Who would have thought that with all the controversy that happened yesterday that Kurt Busch wouldn’t be a part of it at all? Instead, Busch got another great finish with his Furniture Row Racing team.
Busch finished fifth yesterday, which was his second straight top five finish. He finished fourth the week prior in Bristol.
His finishes have been overlooked the last two weeks because of some post-race fireworks. Keep an eye out on that 78 team. They’re running strong, Busch is holding his temper back, and they’re finishing strong. This team may win a race in the not-too-distant-future.