“That’s why people don’t wreck each other intentionally on big racetracks. This is what can happen. He was being very careless and not caring about any repercussions and taking for granted how safe the cars have been over the years.”
And Hamlin is adamant the accident was intentional.
“How is it not intentional? It’s not like he got loose because I took air off him,” Hamlin said. “I saw him getting closer, and I moved up the track. He was just going to keep going until he ran into us. Whatever happened after that, I’m sure he didn’t mean to wreck or get me hurt, but he meant to run into us, there’s no doubt. He didn’t get loose with the back. He drove into us with the front. That’s a guy seeing I was going to get the better of him that week. He wasn’t going to let that happen. He hit the gas until he hit something.”
Hamlin was composed the entire time he spoke to reporters Wednesday, but uncharacteristically grew emotional doing a later taped segment for ESPN. He was asked to watch an interview Logano had done with the network about the incident and Hamlin’s injury, and Hamlin was clearly agitated during the viewing.
He seemed near tears when asked for his response to Logano’s comments.
“I’m the one who has to go through rehab three times a week,” he told ESPN. “I have to wear this back brace. I have a daughter I’d like to play with when I get older. So don’t take my health for granted just because you want to retaliate.”
Hamlin and Logano have been feuding since the closing laps of the season-opening Daytona 500, when Hamlin accused Logano of clogging up traffic. The two then tangled at Bristol, with Hamlin dumping Logano and Logano angrily confronting him after the race.
But Hamlin said Logano exacted his payback in that race _ and in doing so cost his teammate Brad Keselowski the win at Bristol _ so there was no need for Logano to still be angry at him at Fontana. Still, he said Logano seems intent on not being pushed around on the track and it’s costing him dearly in results.
“He had the fastest car for two weeks in a row and instead of winning the races he got into incidents with drivers because he’s just not patient enough,” Hamlin said. “You have to win with the cars you’ve got capable of winning and I just think that he hasn’t driven up in the top-five that often in his career, and he did for two weeks in a row and he got in incidents both times. Maybe it’s a different culture up there that he’s not used to or what, but it’s not just me.
“I watched California, I watched him cut off numerous guys throughout that race. This has all been about Joey standing up for himself. It’s not that. It’s the drivers that he’s cutting off standing up for themselves. You’ve got to either change your driving style or continue to get in the incidents week after week.”
Hamlin doesn’t mind that NASCAR declined to penalize Logano or Tony Stewart, who confronted Logano on pit road after California for blocking him on the final restart. He said the closing laps of the race were similar to the 1979 Daytona 500, and the drivers will mete out their own justice on the track.
“That all comes back around. These guys can make your life hell. The repercussions come. It was what our sport was raised on and got us to the point we’re at right now,” Hamlin said. “I don’t question anything Tony says. He is a man of his word usually. Tony is one of the guys that everyone knows you want to stay on his good side.”