Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Faith on the Frontstretch: A Speedy Apology Calms a Conflict

Joey Logano turns Elliott Sadler into the wall
Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images
“...and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”  ~ Hebrews 12:1b

Emotions were “too tough to tame” at the Darlington races last weekend for several drivers and crew members. Whereas one feud is still smoldering, another potential grudge dissolved before it took shape. Why? Because of a swift, heartfelt apology.

Late in the Nationwide race at Darlington, Joey Logano got behind Elliott Sadler to push him to the lead, but ended up turning him into the wall. The wreck took Sadler out of the race and cost him the lead in the NNS points standings. Here is how Logano described the incident:

“On that next to last restart, I was able to give Elliott a good push and got him out into the lead. I thought he was gone but we had another caution and we all lined up in the same order. I figured we would do the same thing again – I would try and push him to the lead and get myself up to second. I don’t know what happened, I don’t know if he spun his tires or what, but when we started to go he just got crossed up. I backed off, but by that time, he was already sideways and then he got into Denny (Hamlin) and turned into the outside wall.”

Shortly after the wreck, Logano radioed his crew. “Tell him I’m sorry,” he said, the sincerity evident in his voice. After taking the checkered flag, Logano expressed his regret again in his Victory Lane interview and a third time in a post-race interview:

Joey Logano and the No. 20 team celebrate
their Darlington NNS win.
Photo by Boris at http://facebook.com/joegibbsracing
“...I need to apologize to Elliott Sadler. That isn’t the way I wanted to win the race. Elliott and I are good friends and he’s the last person I’d want to take out of a championship. I just felt really bad about that deal. I gave him a call from Victory Lane but didn’t get a chance to talk to him. You can bet I’m going to search him out right away and talk to him as soon as I can.”

Mishaps and conflict occur not only in racecars, but at home, in school and at the workplace. Many times we are on the receiving end when someone does something to cause us pain or irritation. But sometimes we mess up too, and wreak havoc on another person’s day. What the best way to handle it?

One way to deal with conflict is to ignore it, but that doesn’t clear up anything. On the track, ignoring a dust-up may result in a payback or lingering hostility. In real life, unresolved conflict ruins relationships, creates stress, and taints our fellowship with others and with God.

A quick, humble apology is always an appropriate response when we offend or hurt someone. Admitting our mistake gives the other person an opportunity to offer forgiveness. Our genuineness tames frazzled emotions, esteems the other person and honors God.

Joey Logano modeled that kind of humility and class in his scuffle with Elliott Sadler. He didn’t ignore the issue or shrug and say, “Oh, that’s just racing.” Instead, he chose speedy reconciliation, even trying to call Sadler while celebrating his win in Victory Lane.

“I’m sorry” and “I forgive you” are winning words that calm a conflict, on or off the track.

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because “God opposes the proud
but shows favor to the humble.” ~ 1 Peter 5:5b


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Want more racing devotions? When you donate $25 or more to Skirts and Scuffs, we’ll send you a complimentary copy of Beth’s book, Race Fans’ Devotions to Go. See you on the frontstretch!

Beth Bence Reinke is the author of Race Fans’ Devotions to Go, a month-long, pocket-sized devotional book for female racing fans, available in paperback or eBook. “Faith on the Frontstretch” appears every 1st & 3rd Wednesday and explores the role of faith in motorsports. Beth also writes “Gibbs Garage,” Sprint Cup race recaps for Joe Gibbs Racing teams. Comments or twitter follows welcome: @bbreinke.

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