Monday, June 7, 2010

NASCAR's Relaxed Personalities On Full Display at Pocono

by Micah Roberts

Despite the C-plus coverage by TNT, last week’s race at Pocono turned out to be one of the most exciting races of the year just because, as TNT says, “We know Drama,” and they did like no other race this season.

Not only did we get to see the young whipper-snapper Joey Lagono have a take on Kevin Harvick’s wife after getting punted by the points leader, but we also heard Tony Stewart take his first stand of the season, and had another pair of teammates clash during a race.

Immediately following the Pocono race won by Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano threw away his pacifier and good nature and grew up quickly as a man in stock car racing by challenging the school yard bully, Kevin Harvick, after getting wronged on the track late in the race.

Logano seemed to be spurred on by his father after having previous run-ins with Harvick before and felt enough is enough, and that things have got to be settled right away; no more teaching the kid a lesson time.

By the time Logano had gotten out of his car, a fortress had been built around Harvick’s like never seen before in NASCAR to block what they knew would be an angry Logano. Harvick looked like Tom Brady in the pocket as if to completely wet the wick of the fireworks that were about to explode.

So if Logano can’t talk directly to Harvick himself, without leaping over cars to strangle the likes of Greg Biffle as Harvick himself has done in the past, the next best thing to do is make his statement through the media, which he did.

Poor Ralph Sheehan of TNT had tried to get an interview immediately after Logano was denied on the goal line discussion attempt by Harvick‘s crew, and Logano’s father shoved Sheehan away like a paparazzi taking pictures at a Tommy Lee party on the Sunset Strip.

When Sheehan did finally get to Logano after being coached in the hauler by the Joe Gibbs team, Logano let it all hang out in a flustered fashion, one expected of someone so young, despite the cooling down period.

 "It's probably not his fault. His wife wears the firesuit in the family and tells him what to do, so it's probably not his fault.”

Whoaa…That was a low-blow in reference to Harvick’s wife, Delana, who is the only wife to wear a firesuit among all the gorgeous wives and girlfriends of drivers that line up side by side next to their men. However it may be explained later, it still sounded like a premeditated shot, one that Logano must have been waiting to zing on air, and probably has discussed in a laughing manner in the past with friends.

Logano went on to add more regarding the husband Harvick, the driver who actually punted him.

"It is what it is. It's just ridiculous. I don't know what I've ever done to piss him off, but he is apparently stupid. He needs to know how I feel, and nobody lets me go up and talk to the guy. You get out of the car, you want to talk to the guy and see what's going on. And there's 6,000 crew members around him that you can't go up and talk to him. I don't know how you're supposed to settle something when you can't even talk to the guy. But there's no talking to him anyway."

When Harvick got his chance to speak on the matter, he was pretty cool about the whole thing and actually looked like the mature one; this from the driver used to have the reputation of being one of the more immature drivers on tour.

"That's just racing, Harvick said, “I got in there and thought I held a straight line, and he wound up coming down. Hate that it happened and we'll just go on and keep at it. ... You can't talk to him. He's 20."

True, Logano is 20 and so is his car number, but it was obviously more than just a racing deal. The line Harvick took was a malicious one with lots of intent. Here’s the points leader out trying to teach the kid a lesson for what, just being good on the day and racing hard to the finish; not backing down to Harvick who appeared to attack the No. 20 car like a kamikaze pilot.

The aftermath of the ordeal when Harvick had heard of the Logano quotes played out to the entire NASCAR Nation through Twitter where he garnered sympathy because of Logano’s immaturity about bringing Harvick’s wife into the battle of words.

There seemed to be a 50-50 split on opinions, and those who were taking sides within the social network of Twitter that had low opinions of Logano all stemmed from him making the “firesuit” comment.

Harvick responded cleverly with his own tweet on the matter to friend and fellow driver Scott Speed, “Well I don’t know if he wants to fight me or Delana…my money is on her!”

Several other drivers and team officials offered their opinions on the matter via Twitter throughout the night with most of the elder statesmen siding with Harvick and a few younger ones happy about what Logano said. Noticeably absent from the tweet-fest that blew up the trending numbers for activity on Twitter were Logano's teammates, and regular Tweeters,  Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin, likely as a team mandate to keep quiet on the matter.

As if all that wasn’t enough, Tony Stewart picked the ultimate day of fireworks to throw down his own gauntlet of words despite having an excellent third-place finish on the afternoon.

"I've seen some of the worst driving I've ever seen in my life in a professional series right here (Sunday)," Stewart said. "So for anybody that's looking for drama for the next couple races, start looking because I can promise I'm going to start making the highlight reel the next couple weeks."

Stewart looks like a driver to stay clear of next Sunday at Michigan. Tony the Tiger has awoken and with only 12 races remaining in the Race to the Chase, he’s only one point out of the 12th and final position.

This season we have seen several teammates feud because of on-track incidents that include Jamie McMurray- Juan Montoya, Jimmie Johnson-Jeff Gordon, and Kyle Busch-Denny Hamlin. This week we have a new installment based on what happened on the last lap between Petty teammates A.J. Allmendinger and Kasey Kahne where Allmendinger forced Kahne onto the wet grass causing a spectacular crash that involved several drivers, one of whom was Greg Biffle.

"I don't know what AJ was doing there," Kahne said. "I don't really talk to AJ ever and I doubt I'll talk to him about this."

Wow, teammates who don’t talk. This has shades of Jeremy Mayfield and Rusty Wallace written all over it.

"(Allmendinger) totally caused that whole thing,” Biffle said, “He ran him down on the grass. You can't run a guy down on the grass. You can't run your teammate down onto the grass. That is horrible. He could have backed out of that before he put him down like that."

After 13 weeks of waiting for some of NASCAR’s new relaxed policies on drivers personalities to come to fruition, week 14 at Pocono finally gave it to us on a silver platter. The build up for next weeks race at Michigan is like one that hasn’t been seen for any race other than what immdeiately follows the Daytona 500. The message boards and NASCAR social networks across the world-wide web have blown up like we’ve never seen before.

Next up, Michigan…ding-ding!


Dwindy1 said...

Hey Fireballer!

I think you nailed what actually happened out there. Logano was wronged because he wouldn't back off and let the "Royal Harvick" have his way. Will there be any ramifications? Not out of NASCAR. Joey may get a little more respect. The new guys will always be picked on until they stand up for themselves and then the fans get down on them.

Liz said...

Very much enjoyed reading this article. Excellent description of a drama filled Nascar day.

klvalus said...

Nice recap of all the psychological drama yesterday Fireball. I was in my glory watching them all melt down! Loved it!

I missed the Tony quote about how he was going to bring it - I think he is bluffing since his car was crap yet he misses Chase.

Fireballr7 said...

Thanks Dwindy, Joey had to do something and it's too bad his Dad had to get involved. he may not live that one down for a while.

Liz, that was a fun day for sure. Hope Michigan comes close.

Isn't it amazing how Stewart can do what he did Sunday though? the car was garbage and he finds a way to finish well. He did that about five time last year in the same manner.

Missing the Chase? Seems tough with 2 Roads and daytona giving him an edge over many.

Liz said...

The community boards were hopping Sunday and still some chatter. Heck yes that was fun! Looking forward to your predictions for Michigan. Eluvsracing.

Gene Haddock said...

Very nice, FBall!

Is there anything in sports sillier than DeLana Harvick wearing a firesuit? I am so glad that Joey threw that out there. For that matter, why is NASCAR the only job in the world where you can bring your wife to work?

Everyone says that Joey came down on Kev, and he did. But, Harvick did not turn to enter the turn,. He kept going straight until Joey had to turn. Just a veteran messing with a youngun. I'm sure Joey is fed up with that stuff. There are plenty of dirty driving tricks that we never see on TV.

Fireballr7 said...

that's funny Gene, what's the deal with her firesuit? Glad Joey stood up for himself finally.