Joey Logano won at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, clinching his spot in the NASCAR Championship 4 on a move that reigning champion Martin Truex Jr. is calling a “cheap shot.”
Let’s set the scene: Denny Hamlin — a non NASCAR Playoffs Round of 8 driver — is leading with nine laps left of Sunday’s First Data 500 with Martin Truex Jr. looking to punch his ticket to Homestead right behind him. Behind Truex is Joey Logano, who led 309 laps on the day and was the dominant car in the field.
Truex — who made slight contact with Logano in preceding laps — moves into the lead, only to fall victim to a bump-and-run by Logano in Turn 3, which inevitably caused the No. 78 to turn sideways, thus handing the victory (and shot at the title) over to Logano.
Take a look for yourself…
“He may have won the battle but he didn’t win the damn war,” Truex explained to NBC Sports after the race. This comment coincided with Truex’s crew chief Cole Pearn mixing words with Logano’s garage guru Todd Gordon.
“He’s a racer and should know better than to say that,” Logano’s Team Owner Roger Penske said in reference to Truex’s cheap shot comments to the media following the race. “As far as I’m concerned that’s just a comment that I don’t think we deserve.”
Logano also said his piece following the race to NBCSN:
Martinsville has a flair for the dramatic: Fans may remember last season when Chase Elliott — going for his first career win and also a shot at the Championship 4 — was wrecked by Denny Hamlin in the final laps, inevitably costing him the Round of 8. This season, Truex will not be able to knock Logano out of the Round of 8, but could retaliate at Homestead especially if he does not advance to defend his title.
In the case of Hamlin and Elliott, the then 21-year-old Elliott got his revenge on Hamlin a few races later at Phoenix, wrecking Hamlin when he was in a position to win the race a few weeks later at Phoenix. The wreck inevitably ended Hamlin’s hopes at a title, so this is not abnormal when it comes to NASCAR.
As it stands, if the round ended today, Truex would advance to the Championship 4 alongside Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, with Kurt Busch, Elliott, Clint Bowyer and Aric Almirola being eliminated.
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