HOORAHS & WAZZUPS: RUMBLINGS FROM THUNDER VALLEYBy Dave Grayson
From the racing is rubbing on the track to the near misses on a very narrow pit road, the Bristol Motor Speedway lived up to its reputation and the Food City 500 delivered an extremely entertaining Sunday afternoon in Tennessee’s Thunder Valley. The unique Bristol, “have at it boys”. mentality began the moment the green flag fell on the 43 cars and continued well past the end of the race with a good old fashioned skirmish that resembled a World Wrestling Entertainment pay per view. Now that was entertainment.
HOORAH. That competition killing combination of driver Kasey Kahne and crew chief Kenny Francis was formidable during this race and placed Hendrick Motorsports back into the Bristol victory lane. Kahne led 109 laps on the way to his first win of the season, his first win at Bristol and his 15th career win. He also elevated himself to seventh in the championship points standings.
WAZZUP. Okay, let’s get to it. It seems we have a new driver feud to focus on and possibly, depending on what you choose to believe, even an old fued rekindled that we were never really aware of. On Lap 349 Denny Hamlin’s Toyota got into the rear bumper of Joey Logano’s Ford. Logano spun in turn two and tagged the wall. Hamlin came over his radio and said: “I meant to bump him but I didn’t mean to f***ing wreck him.” Was anyone else thinking of Dale Earnhardt Sr when they heard that line?
WAZZUP. The post race speculation came quicker than a new track qualifying record and claimed that these two drivers were never on the same page even when they were team mates at Joe Gibbs Racing. Logano himself poured some fuel on that fire, during a post race comment to ESPN, when he said: “we’ve got a freaking genius behind the wheel of the #11. Probably the worst team mate I’ve ever had, so I learned that now.”
WAZZUP. The speculation also claimed that the race incident stemmed from a pre season “Twitter” war these two drivers were engaged in. There may be some credence to the theory. It appears that, when both drivers retreated to their car haulers, their first action was to light up their cell phones. Logano sent a “tweet” that read: “hey @dennyhamlin, great job of protecting that genius brain of your by keeping your helmet on.” Hamlin responded with: “Why’s that- – -what would u do?” Aren’t reading other people’s “Tweets” fun?
HOORAH. Joey Logano’s post race anger was handled in a very proper manner when he exited his car and walked over to speak to Hamlin. Too many times in the past we have seen one driver use his car as a battering ram against the rear bumper of another car on pit road. After these races are over, pit road is immediately filled with crew members, NASCAR officials and the media performing their respective duties. This is absolutely not the environment for intentional collisions.
HOORAH. Denny Hamlin did indeed remain in his car with his helmet on and it was, indeed, the smart thing to do. It reduced Logano’s temptation to throw a punch. Those NASCAR helmets have been known to leave some serious bruises on bare knuckles.
WAZZUP. Following the driver’s verbal exchanges, there was a brief skirmish between crew members from the two teams which ended almost as quickly as it started. I choose the word skirmish because no one in their right mind would call this pit road incident a fight. I’ve personally witnessed girls in cocktail lounges who fought better than that.
WAZZUP. The word retaliation is already flying around like confetti in victory lane. Logano also poured some fuel on this fire when he said: “I have a scorecard and I’m not putting up with that. What goes around comes around.” There is already rampant speculation that says we might see some payback next weekend at the Auto Club Speedway. That’s not likely. This giant two mile oval, with speeds in excess of 200 MPH, just isn’t a very good location to get even with someone. The sweet spot for retaliation will be coming the following week. April 7th, when the Sprint Cup Series returns to short track racing at Martinsville, Virginia. That’s where we need to keep a sharp eye on Logano versus Hamlin.
WAZZUP. We’re going to see the Bristol post race Bristol video of this incident over and over again all week long, and probably beyond that, on the NASCAR themed television shows so find a way to get used to it.
HOORAH. We now have a new video clip to replace the massive showings of Jeff Gordon versus Clint Bowyer from the Phoenix race. You have to think that Gordon and Bowyer will be happy to hear this news.
HOORAH. On the Monday morning following the Bristol race, NASCAR officials said that no penalties were expected for either Logano or Hamlin and the members of their teams.
WAZZUP. The no penalty decision could, however, create a conflict in the minds of the NASCAR nation. Denny Hamlin bumps into a driver’s car, spins him out and it’s covered by the “have at it boys policy.” On the other side of the conflict: Denny Hamlin criticizes the new race car he’s driving and gets fined $25,000 for action detrimental to stock car racing. HMMM!!!!
HOORAH. The final acclaim goes to the always fun Kenny Wallace. During the SPEED Channel’s “NASCAR Victory Lane” program Wallace said: “the only problem I had at Bristol was I paid $436 for a hotel room at the Fairfield.” It was great to see someone, on national television, champion the cause of inn keepers hiking up their rates, sometimes to the level of extortion, during a NASCAR race weekend. This was yet another example of why so many fans love Kenny Wallace.