Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano trade insults as NASCAR feud continues

Welcome to FTW’s NASCAR Feud of the Week, where we provide a detailed breakdown of the latest absurd, funny and sometimes legitimate controversies and issues within the racing World.

Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano’s feud continues to escalate — just not physically.

Following last weekend’s NASCAR race at Martinsville Speedway, the two drivers had a heated discussion that ended in a brief physical altercation between them and their two teams. And after the No. 22 Ford team tire specialist, Dave Nichols Jr., horse-collared Hamlin and pulled him to the ground, NASCAR suspended him for Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Although the post-race scuffle was nearly a week ago, the two playoff drivers still have been trading verbal jabs at Texas, despite Logano saying he and Hamlin have not talked outside of the track.

Here are the highlights of what Logano and Hamlin said during their media availabilities Friday at Texas.

Both drivers took some responsibility

The post-race incident at Martinsville was the result of contact the two made on the short track. Logano was running on the outside and felt Hamlin ran him into the wall coming out of Turn 4. Hamlin initially didn’t say he did anything wrong and called the damage to Logano’s car “collateral damage.”

Hamlin felt differently Friday though, and said that while he is aware of who is racing next to him “at all times,” the contact was his fault. He said:

“I misjudged. The on-track stuff was definitely my fault. There was no intention to run into him or run him into the wall or anything like that because I put myself at a pretty big risk there of cutting tires as well, but I was just trying to use all the space that I could.

“Certainly, if it was like a teammate or someone else beside me or really anyone, yeah, I probably don’t gas it up quite as soon and try to take all of that space.”

On the other side of this feud, Logano reiterated that Hamlin didn’t acknowledge any fault at Martinsville, and he continued to take responsibility for putting his hands on Hamlin. Minutes after the incident on pit road, Logano told NBC Sports: “Maybe I shouldn’t have shoved him at the end.”

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And at Texas on Friday, he continued to express his regret about that while also addressing Hamlin acknowledging the on-track contact was his fault:

“He didn’t own up to it when we talked about it at the time. For me, as a man, the first thing I do is own up to my mistakes. I probably would have walked down to him if I did the same thing and said I was sorry and that I screwed up. That is what sent me off the edge.

“Like I said, I am regretful of the way I handled it. I let someone affect my character and that is something I am not proud of. We get stronger from these moments and you live and you learn and you move on.”

Denny Hamlin criticizes No. 22 team’s crew chief

Given how Nichols escalated the situation — which could have seriously injured Hamlin and had an impact on his championship hopes with three races left in the season — Hamlin was critical of not only him but also of Logano’s crew chief, Todd Gordon.

He said Nichols is “the first one in all of Joey’s confrontations” and “starts most of this stuff,” agreeing with his one-race suspension. More from NBC Sports:

“I thought my guys were pretty level, to be honest with you, through that whole deal,” Hamlin said of his crew. “I think you could see quite a few times that Joey is right in front of them and no one lays a hand on Joey. I think it’s just a lack of control that Todd has got with his people.”

Joey Logano defends Todd Gordon

When told of Hamlin’s remarks about his crew chief, Logano refuted them:

“I think Todd has great control of our race team and is a great crew chief and does a great job leading all of us. …

“I let my emotions get the best of me. That was a mistake on my part. I probably didn’t handle that correctly. It doesn’t make what he did on the race track right, but I think at the same time, will probably play that card as much as he wants. He can run his mouth as much as he wants. I am going to run my race, and we will see who ends up ahead.”

Denny Hamlin also said Joey Logano is a magnet for these situations

“It’s really tough to say. I’m not sure, but just, I think that he really breeds those type of things,” Hamlin said. “He’s gotten into it really with a ton of people. I probably have my fair share as well, but I don’t know what it is. But I certainly don’t agree with it, for sure.”

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Logano said he has no idea why he’s often involved in controversial situations like this: “I don’t know. It beats me.”

Are Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano just playing mind games with each other?

Logano said Hamlin “might” be underestimating him, adding: “Anytime something like this happens, the games are played.”

The defending Cup Series champion continued analyzing Hamlin:

“He is handling it a different way than I would have, but we aren’t the same person and that is OK. Whatever you are into, however you want to handle things. Like I said, I am not proud of the way I handled it, but I am going to be man enough to fess up to that and own that. Outside of that, I move on and whatever he wants to say, I could really give a crap.”

Hamlin was asked if he thinks Logano is under the impression he can irk the No. 11 Toyota driver. And to that, Hamlin responded: “No, he’s not that smart.”

Is it actually the other way around with Hamlin trying to play mind games with Logano? “He can try,” Logano said. “I am a little tougher than he thinks.”

Joey Logano says he’s going to race any differently for the rest of the season

Both Logano and Hamlin are still in the 10-race, 16-driver playoffs, which is now in the Round of 8. Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway is the second of three races in this round as the remaining championship contenders compete for the three remaining spots open in the Championship 4. Martin Truex Jr. won at Martinsville, which automatically gave him one of the final four spots.

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Moving forward on the track with this feud with Hamlin, Logano said he will race him “the way I want to,” adding: “I have nothing to be careful about. He wrecked me. I don’t race him any differently. I am not sure he has handled this the smartest way so far.”

The AAA Texas 500 is Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

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