In what many have said looked to be a racing incident of two drivers racing each other hard for the win, Denny Hamlin says that the wreck was caused intentionally by Joey Logano.
"In my opinion, there was no doubt that he intended to run into us," Hamlin said. "It was not, 'I just made a mistake,' because he kept throttling until he finally ran into us.”
The wreck in which is being referred to is the one that happened in the closing lap at Auto Club Speedway. The pair were running against each other for the lead in the final laps when Kyle Busch would sneak past them and take the win. However behind Busch, the pair continued to battle and made contact off of turn four.
The resulting contact caused Logano to bounce off the wall and Hamlin to go flying into the inside wall. The wall that Hamlin hit had no safer barrier and caused the car to come up off the ground. Hamlin was credited with a 25th with Logano got third.
"I saw him getting closer, and I moved up the track,” Hamlin said. “He was just going to keep going until he ran into us……..He didn't get loose with the back (of the car). He drove into us with the front. That's a guy seeing I was going to get the better of him that week. He wasn't going to let that happen. He hit the gas until he hit something."
As a result, Hamlin will miss this weekend’s race at Martinsville, and possibly the next four races, due to a L1 Compression Fracture to his back.
Beyond what happened on track, Hamlin has been listening to what Logano said off the track and noted that Logano referenced their run-in at Bristol a lot, stating that “things would have been different” if Bristol hadn’t happened.
"I'm confused," Hamlin said. "In the interview (with ESPN on Tuesday), he's saying it wasn't intentional, but three different instances (previously) he had a chance to say, 'It wasn't intentional,' and all three times he said it was. So, there's no doubt in my mind that it was intentional."
Hamlin went on to say in an interview with a small group of reporters that he didn’t believe Logano meant to hurt him, but did take offense to when Logano spoke of the cars being really safe and saying, “I’m sure he’s fine”.
"That is taking for granted what we do is just, that we're superman and we can't be hurt," Hamlin said. "That's why people don't wreck each other on 200 mile-per-hour racetracks, because this is what can happen.
"You've got to think about that as a driver. You can't just throw caution to the wind. Because no one's gotten killed in 10 years, it's OK to just wreck someone at 200? It's not OK, because I have a daughter now. I'd like to do things with her when I get older.
"Don't take my health for granted just because you want to retaliate."
After Bristol, Logano was frustrated with what happened, believing that Hamlin wrecked him on purpose. However, Hamlin says that wasn’t the case.
“You can listen to my radio and watch my in-car camera, pounding the steering wheel,” Hamlin said. “I didn't mean to do that.”
Logano said that he felt that he needed to go over to Hamlin, that he needed to race him hard, as way to “stand up for himself”
“It's not that,” Hamlin says. “It's about the drivers he cut off standing up for themselves. You have to change your driving style or continue to get in Incidents week after week."
Hamlin says that Logano has had the fastest car the past two weeks, but hasn’t been patient enough.
The pair have traded text messages since the incident at Auto Club Speedway, but nothing came out of that.
"It wasn't, 'I'm sorry for running into you. I made a mistake,'" Hamlin said. "It was a, 'Hope you feel better. Hope you get to the track soon.' Eventually, you've got to take responsibility for your actions.
"Why do we have to keep this going? Just because he feels like he has something to prove? I don't know. But he had the two fastest cars two weekends in a row and got incidents with two different drivers two weeks in a row."
Despite the incident being intentional, Hamlin says that Logano sholdn’t be penalized as it’s all about drivers doing the policing themselves.
"That all comes back around," said Hamlin. "These guys can make your life hell. The repercussions come. It was what our sport was raised on and got us to the point we're at right now. I don't think there should ever be penalties. When drivers take it on themselves, they have a huge bulls-eye. (Logano) probably needs to switch sponsors with Juan Pablo (Montoya, who is sponsored by Target) for at least two months."
If they had finished the race without the wreck and Logano would have won, Hamlin says he would have went and shook Logano’s hand, saying that’s how they should race. Hamlin says he was ready to get over what had happened going into Auto Club Speedway – saying that they were even after Bristol with how they finished, it’s not over now.
“He's got to deal with the repercussions of that when we race each other again," he said.
Credit to ESPN.com and USAToday.com for quotes