Most sports thrive on big time rivalries. They usher in new fans, gain higher viewership on TV and fill seats up in the stands.
NASCAR has always thrived on big time rivalries. Dating back to the 1979 Daytona 500, there seems to have always been at least two drivers that sparked a mutual hatred on the track.
Last year, we saw Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon grow their rivalry among the season in which it really hit a high gear when Gordon crashed Bowyer coming to the white flag in the second to last race at the Phoenix International Raceway.
This season many were thinking that rivalry would keep its spark, but a new one has since started brewing.
Both Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin started beefing with eachother at Daytona and kept it going through this past Sunday at the Bristol Motor Speedway.
Logano, tried to pull off the slide move nearing the late stages of the 500 Lap race on Sunday but Hamlin clipped his rear bumper sending the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford into the outside SAFER barrier in Turn 2. Both drivers were running in the top five at the time.
Hamlin came on the radio and apologized saying he didn’t intend to wreck him, but Logano didn’t buy it.
After the race Logano came to confront Hamlin while he was still in his car. Hamlin’s crew was standing there and pushed Logano away right after his head in the window to start something. Nothing other than shoving took place as NASCAR broke it up before a fight occured.
When Hamlin was asked by FOX after the race what Logano said to him he told them, “”He said he was coming for me. I usually don’t see him, so it’s usually not a factor.”
Logano talked to FOX after the race and said, “It’s between me and him what was said.” He did elaborate more to ESPN and said, “We’ve got a freaking genius behind the wheel of the 11. Probably the worst teammate I ever had, so I learned that now. He chose to run into the back of me. Whatever. I have a scorecard and I’m not putting up with that.”
“What goes around come around.”
Like after the Daytona race the two drivers exchanged jabs on Twitter as well.
Hamlin tweeted this to last year’s Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski, “@keselowski sorry I couldn’t get close to you cuz your genius teammate was too busy messing up the inside line 1 move at a time”
Clint Bowyer also got involved in the battle on twitter by responding to that saying, “2nd that.”
Logano saw that and responded to Hamlin tweeting, “@DennyHamlin, I Remember when you were MY genius teammate. #LoveYouMeanIt.”
Logano told the media in Phoenix that Hamlin was “An Idiot” and he felt he did nothing wrong.
The tensions rose Sunday night when Logano took to Twitter again and said this to Hamlin:
“Hey @dennyhamlin great job protecting that genius brain of yours by keeping your helmet on.”
Hamlin fired back a Tweet, “Why’s that … What would u do?”
Of course Logano answered back with “@dennyhamlin Show you some love and appreciation.”
Hamlin who didn’t back down replied, “Need my address?”
That’s where the twitter jabs ended and where we sit today. I think this feud between former Joe Gibbs Racing teammates has yet to hit it’s peak. These two just don’t like eachother and payback from Logano is going to come.
I don’t think payback will come this week at the high speed Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. But, I do think it will come after the week off when the series goes back to action in Martinsville on the weekend of April 7th.
That race is normally used to give paybacks for something that’s happened at the beginning of the season as it’s still early enough to take the risk and the short track won’t cause and injuries.
Plus, tempers are at a high in Martinsville where the paper clip track makes it very hard to pass. Drivers are forced to literally move the car in front out of the way with their front bumper.
Three weeks after Martinsville is the Richmond night race where another chance for a payback could come. The two coincidences between those two tracks is they’re both in Virginia and that’s Hamlin’s homestate. He puts extra emphasis on winning on his hometracks and Logano knows that by being a former teammate.
Hamlin, is always a threat to win at both races and Logano taking him out would only cause more tension and friction between the two.
This is why I feel the worst has yet to come as payback is certainly coming.
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