Joey Logano sat down to open a morning of press conferences at Texas Motor Speedway fresh off an appearance with his sponsor — and Sunday’s race sponsor — AAA. He had visited with high-schoolers — new drivers – and helped teach them about safety, courtesy and making good decisions on the road.
The timing couldn’t have been better, and the irony was obvious. Logano, 28, became the first driver to officially claim one of the four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup championship contender spots courtesy of his hard-fought victory last weekend at Martinsville Speedway. And the win has drawn plenty of commentary this week on Logano’s decision to unapologetically race hard and to challenge courtesy with a possible championship on the line.
THE [email protected] wins at @MartinsvilleSwy to punch his ticket into the championship race! @CocaColaRacing pic.twitter.com/QPJ5yyH2RF
As the Team Penske driver reminded on Friday prior to opening practice for the AAA 500 (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), he didn’t wreck Martin Truex Jr. — with whom he dueled on that Martinsville last lap — and Logano reiterated his “push” was certainly not the only assertive move of the day on the famous short track.
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Logano confirmed that he received a text message late Sunday after the race from Truex.
“I think he was a little frustrated and that is part of it,” Logano said. “I also think it is short-track racing. All of that was on the line at that point and I think we both understand that there was so much on the line and that is what happens sometimes.
“Like I said, it is short-track racing. That bump-and-run move, although that was probably the most popular one of the whole race because it was for the win on the last lap, probably happened 10 or 15 times before that and it didn’t get covered. It is a classic move in NASCAR that happens a lot, every time we go there, whether it is on Lap 20 or Lap 499.”
And although Truex clearly didn’t take kindly to the full-contact last-lap racing, the expectation for it at a short track in a playoff race was accepted by others — from fellow drivers to NASCAR’s version of armchair quarterbacks and fans.
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“I think the majority of them have supported it, supported the move,” Logano said, of other Cup competitors reaching out to him this week. “It is a position that our sport puts you in, in the playoffs. You are in the playoffs and have an opportunity to lock yourself into the Championship Four. You don’t know what is going to happen the next two races. It is Martinsville. It is classic short-track racing that we have seen 100 times.
“Some fans love it and some don’t. Either way you are going to have plenty of questions afterwards. If you don’t do it they want to know why you didn’t do it. If you do it, half are happy and half aren’t. I am not here to make everyone happy.
“I am here to do my job for my race team and they did such a great job all day long and we led 300 laps. If you don’t try to win the race, I would expect them to be very disappointed in me as a driver for them. It was a classic bump-and-run. There was no crashing or cars in the wall. It was a bump up to get there and then that classic drag race and that cool finish for everybody.”
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