Kevin Harvick got all the glory on Sunday in Michigan, but certainly not all the attention. A minor accident on lap 148 resulted in some heated post-race words between Ryan Newman and Joey Logano.
What Happened: Trying to pass Newman in Turn 4 in what has been referred to as a sequence of hard racing, the Joe Gibbs Racing 20 car got loose, lightly tapping Newman’s left-side quarter panel, spinning out the No. 39 Chevy toward the infield. Though the physical damage was minimal, it was enough to cause Newman to fall down a lap with just 51 to go, resulting in a 23rd place finish. Logano came in 10th.
The Aftermath: Anyone who has followed Logano probably was not surprised by his eagerness to place the blame on Newman. Logano, whose age matches the number on the side of his car, has been in spats with Greg Biffle, Juan Pablo Montoya and Kevin Harvick (a spat that Harvick’s wife surely hasn’t forgotten) in the last two years and each time has been quick to point the finger at the other driver. After Newman approached Logano after the race, Logano accused Newman of racing too hard and not giving an inch.
“I gave you the whole race track,” said Newman. “The race track is 80 feet wide and you can’t even pass me.”
“Dude, I was on the bottom,” Logano responded. “You ignored the shit out of me. There’s six lanes on top.”
The bickering lasted a few more seconds before Logano touched Newman, inciting a touching match (the word shoving would be an exaggeration) only slightly less physical than the driving incident that preceded it. NASCAR competition director John Darby summed up the fracas nicely, saying, “There’s been more pushing to get into a Wal-Mart.”
Away from Newman, Logano told reporters that he was being door-jammed by Newman, taking his air off, which caused Logano to briefly lose control of his car, bumping and spinning Newman as a result. Logano mentioned more than once that Newman’s tendency to drive too hard had been noted by other drivers.
The Verdict: This one is easy. You’re not going to get a lot of sympathy from NASCAR Nation when the best defense for your actions is that the other guy races too hard. That’s like a pitcher throwing at Albert Pujols because “he focuses too hard during at-bats.” If Logano really felt that it was getting too tight between himself and Newman, he should have backed away (or gone lower, which was an option) instead of pushing to the point of caution-inducing contact.