|Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images|
Short-track tempers spilled over to the big track at Auto Club Speedway today. The feud between Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin came to a head when the two faced off for the win in the Auto Club 400, beating and banging as if they were at Bristol or Martinsville until Logano got up into Hamlin, put himself into the outside wall and launched Hamlin hard into the inside wall.
|Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images|
Dale Earnhardt Jr. also capitalized on the two leaders taking each other out to take second place and the points lead. Kurt Busch slid past for third. (Update: NASCAR revised the finishing order and scored Joey Logano in third, Kurt Busch in fifth.)
While Logano climbed from his car uninjured, Hamlin collapsed after exiting his vehicle and was airlifted to a local hospital for treatment. Track staff indicated that the decision to airlift Hamlin to the hospital was precautionary because of the traffic leaving the speedway.
When interviewed immediately after the race, Logano said, "He shouldn't have done what he did last week. That's what he gets." At his hauler later, he backpedaled a bit saying he was just doing what had to be done to win the race.
As if the last-lap wreck weren't enough drama for Logano, Tony Stewart ran his No. 14 by Logano's car, stopping him on pit road. Both drivers exited their cars, Stewart stormed over to Logano and started throwing punches. Crew members pulled him back, but Stewart didn't cool down.
On the final restart Logano blocked Stewart, pushing him down to the flat. Each thought the other was a threat for the win, but Stewart's not known for taking the block well and his first interview got bleeped a lot. "That little b**** ran us clear down to the infield. He's the one who drives like a *****. I'm going to bust his ass," said Stewart.
|Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images|
“I had to throw the block there. That was a race for the lead. I felt if the 14 got underneath me, that was going to be the end of my opportunity to win the race, so I was just trying to protect the spot I had. I was actually pedaling, because I couldn't keep the 18 aligned. I was actually faster than the 18 getting our tires hooked up. And then I'm trying to stagger myself making sure I don't beat him to the line and then I had to block the 14 because I was pedaling it. I'll talk to him and we'll see what happens. I think he finished decent. We'll just talk about it some more.”
Stewart was unrepentant and in no mood to hear any conciliatory words. "For a guy that's been complaining about how everybody else is driving here, it's a double standard. He makes the choice. He made the decision to run us down there and when you run a driver down there then you take responsibility for what happens after that," he said.
|Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images|
So now in addition to having taken what was apparently pent-up resentment at his former teammate to another level, Logano ran afoul of Smoke, whose issued a warning. "If he ever turns down in front of me again, I don't care what lap it is, he won't make it through the end of it. If I hadn't hit the chip he wouldn't have made it through Turn 1 to begin with..."
"He's been griping about everybody else and now he's sent Denny to the hospital and screwed our day up. He's talked the talk but he hadn't walked the walk. He's always got his crew guys walking it for him."
"After he threw the water bottle at me like a little girl, we'll go at it now."
With next weekend off, the next stop is Martinsville, where the seeds of last season's feud between Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer were sown. What better place for the next chapter in this continuing saga to unfold?
She's been a part of the Skirts and Scuffs team since May 2011, going from contributor to media rep, photographer, and associate editor covering both NASCAR and IZOD IndyCar. Janine considers it a privilege to represent the site at the track and to share with readers the excitement of the world of motorsports.
Follow her on Twitter @ljc777.