Tempers have finally settled between NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin nearly one year after a nasty final lap crash at Autoclub Speedway sent Hamlin to the hospital causing him to miss four races of the 2013 season.
The feud began after the 2013 Daytona 500 when Hamlin took to Twitter insulting Logano. Logano lashed back, and the bad blood exploded at the Bristol Motor Speedway after Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota tapped the No. 22 Ford of Logano into a spin on lap 348. After the race, Logano leaned into Hamlin’s cockpit and delivered some choice words. The two drivers were separated by crewmembers before the crews began engaging in heated exchange. Neither team was penalized for their actions, but the feud continued on to the following weekend at Fontana, which resulted in the final lap crash.
After suffering severe back injuries from the crash and missing four races last season, Hamlin was asked by the media at BMS on Friday how he would characterize his relationship with Logano. Hamlin commented, “We’re okay. We don’t talk or anything like that more than we should and really no less than we should I would say. You can hold grudges all you want, but it’s not going to make you any faster and it’s not going to get you any closer to a championship. I’m bitter in ways and in other ways it’s been so long ago and there’s so many trials and tribulations between then and now that I think I’m a better person now afterwards and I think I’m a better driver now than I was before. I think that it gives you perspective on things when you sit out a little bit and you don’t want it to be because of physical reasons and things like that. As far as my relationship with him, I treat him with respect on the race track as I should.”
When asked what it is like when he has to spend time with Logano, he said, “I don’t really force it too much. I mean there’s awkward moments. You’re face to face with someone and you’re having to talk during a commercial or what have you. You have those moments where you just as soon look away and you do.”
The Coca-Cola Racing Family commercials are an example of the two being forced to interact. Logano feels that the commercials have had a positive impact on mending their relationship. He said, “Coca-Cola brings us all back together and puts a smile on everybody’s face. I feel like we’re fine. A year is a long time. It’s over now. I feel like we’ve moved on. Obviously, people were talking about it this week because it’s the one-year anniversary of the whole fiasco, but you move on and forget about things. You’re supposed to forgive and forget and that goes both ways, so we both knew what we had to do and I feel like we’ve moved on and we’re going from there.”
Hamlin and Logano are both early season hopefuls with each of them winning Coor’s Light Pole Awards. Logano started on the pole last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and Hamlin will lead the field to green this weekend in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Typically frustrations and tempers fly high at Bristol. The Last Great Colosseum could be the venue that reignites that rivalry.