FORT WORTH, Texas â Joey Logano plans to race Denny Hamlin however he wants, regardless of recent drama on and off the track.
The two NASCAR Playoffs drivers got into a heated argument last weekend at Martinsville Speedway that turned into all-out fight, involving members from both Loganoâs No. 22 Team Penske crew and Hamlinâs No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team. Logano first approached Hamlin to confront him about his racing style â Loganoâs Ford and Hamlinâs Toyota made contact late in the First Data 500, and Logano sustained the brunt of the damage â but the moment Logano pushed Hamlinâs right shoulder, things escalated quickly. They were ready to fight but ended up physically separated.
âI probably shouldnât have gone down there for something he probably wasnât going to apologize for,â Logano said Friday in between the Monster Energy Seriesâ two practices at Texas Motor Speedway. âI let my emotions get the best of me, and thatâs a mistake on my part. I probably didnât handle that correctly. Doesnât make what he did on the race track right, running like that. But at the same time, I think heâs going to play that card as much as he wants, heâs going to run his mouth as much as he wants. Iâm going to run my race, and weâll see who ends up on top.â
Sunday is the AAA Texas 500 (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the second race in the NASCAR Playoffsâ Round of 8. Both Logano and Hamlin are still competing for a spot in the Championship 4 and the ultimate title at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Hamlin is second in the standings, 24 points above the cutline with two races left before elimination. Logano is fourth, 14 points safe in the final transfer spot.
When asked whether he thinks Hamlin underestimates him, Logano grinned.
âHe might say that,â Logano said. âIâm sure he doesnât inside his mind.â
Logano and Hamlin have not spoken since the pit-road incident. Anything theyâve learned about one another has been through word of mouth. Hamlin was first to speak out, too.
Also on Friday, Hamlin made it clear he believes No. 22 crew chief Todd Gordon does not have full control of his team. Logano disagreed later in the afternoon when told that tidbit, saying Gordon is a great leader.
And then there was the minor detail Hamlin did admit was his mistake, going too high and bumping into Logano.
âI misjudged,â Hamlin said. âThe 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.â
Logano ended up spinning and had to rally back from 19th place to finish eighth. Hamlin cruised on to fourth come the checkered flag.
What happened afterward is why the drivers arenât on speaking terms, and the rest is now well-documented history.
âHe didnât own up to it when we talked about it at the time,â Logano said. âI know 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 Iâm sorry I screwed up.
âBut, you know, thatâs what set me off the edge, which Iâm regretful of the way I handled it. I let someone affect my character, and thatâs something Iâm not proud of. But we get stronger from these moments. You live, and you learn, and you move on.â