March 27, 2013
Denny Hamlin Injured In A Last Lap Crash
On the last lap of the Auto Club 400 race in Fontana, California, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano were banging doors, fighting for the lead. Logano was on the inside when his car slid up and smacked into the drivers side of Hamlin’s car, causing them both to hit the outside wall. Logano was able to get back straight but Hamlin lost control and slammed head on into the inside wall, causing the car to leave the pavement. After the car settled back on all four wheels, Hamlin dropped the window net to show the track medical personnel he was alright. After climbing from the car under his own power, he collapsed and was attended to by the medical staff at the track. Hamlin was then placed on a stretcher, brought to the infield care center and then transported to the local hospital.
While the two were battling for the lead, Kyle Busch, the third place driver was slowly catching them. As the incident was unfolding, Kyle was able to go around the two cars to take over the lead and cross the finish line for the win.
This incident may not have stemmed from last weeks’ race at Bristol where Hamlin got into Logano late in the race while they were battling for second place which spun Logano around and Hamlin was able to continue. It sure is ironic that the same two drivers crash battling for a position but with an opposite outcome.
Hamlin and Logano were teammates for four years at Joe Gibbs racing until this year when Logano moved over to Penske Racing. Now, being rivals instead of teammates, their driving habits toward each other would ultimately become more aggressive.
After the race in Bristol, Logano spoke about Hamlin’s on track behavior, “I think part of it’s Bristol racing, but part of it’s ridiculous. Whatever … I feel like I race him clean all the time, and he’s going to do that. I understand the way he races now that he’s not my teammate, and I will race him the same way he races me.”
Hamlin’s response to the incident was, “I meant to run into him. I didn’t mean to spin him out, but his day was fine. He still had a bad day anyway for whatever reason. You know, just, we finished bad and he finished bad. It’s even.”
In the pits after the race Logano approached Hamlin’s car and stuck his head into the window, but was pulled away by a crew member of Hamlin. That resulted in a scuffle between teams. But, it didn’t stop there. The two drivers continued to squabble on twitter.
Did the incident at Bristol carry over into the race at California? Who knows.
In a separate incident during the California race involving Joey Logano and Tony Stewart, on a restart a few laps before, Logano moved down to block Tony from passing, causing Tony to lose momentum and positions. In an interview after the race, Tony had harsh words for Joey, (see video) and approached him in the pits, where punches were thrown and the teams had to separate them.
In every race, tempers will flare, cars will beat and bang on each other, but it is all overshadowed when a fellow driver is injured.