Logano knocks Truex aside for Martinsville win
By Rick Minter/ Andrews McMeel Syndication
Sunday’s First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway provided the NASCAR world with some badly needed drama as the Monster Energy Cup Series enters its final three weeks of the 2018 campaign.
Joey Logano employed a classic bump-and-run maneuver on Martin Truex Jr. on the final turn of Sunday’s 500-lapper on the tight, paper-clip-shaped half-mile and took the lead — and the win — from Truex, who now has gone 78 career short-track races in the Cup series without a victory. The victory, Logano’s first at Martinsville, assures him of a spot among the four drivers who will decide the Cup championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway in three weeks.
An angry Truex promised payback in a nationally televised post-race interview and vowed that he, not Logano, would be the 2018 champion.
NASCAR fans and participants in the sport immediately took to social media to debate the fairness of Logano’s move, with most in agreement that, whether they sided with Logano or Truex, the day’s events made them want to see more short tracks on the Cup schedule.
For his part, Logano, who led a race-high 309 laps and lost the lead with a little over one lap to run before regaining it at the finish line, said he didn’t do anything unusual for a last-lap battle for the win on a short track like Martinsville.
“My goal was not to wreck [Truex] in any way,” he said. “My goal was to win the race. I don’t want to win by dumping somebody. I want to win by making a move.
“That was the classic bump-and-run. That was the move that our sport and Martinsville, in particular, was built on.
“I think I owe it to my race team to do everything I can to win a race, get another shot at winning a championship. That’s my job. They did their job today. I had to do my mine.”
Logano’s car owner, the respected veteran Roger Penske, said he saw nothing wrong with his driver’s move.
“I think Joey drove a great race,” Penske said in the winner’s interview. “He didn’t knock [Truex] off the race track. It was side-by-side racing at the end. You could see that. Nobody lifted. “I want to make sure people know my position: I thought it was fair, I thought it was square, and Joey deserved the win.”
Truex, obviously, disagreed.
“[Logano] won the battle, but he didn’t win the damn war,” he said. “I’m just not going to let him win it. I’m going to win it.”
Truex said he raced Logano clean in the closing laps only to be treated otherwise on the final lap.
“I was next to him for six laps,” he said. “I never knocked him out of the way. We were going to race hard for it in my book. I cleared him fair and square. We weren’t even banging doors for me to pass him. He just drove into the back of me and knocked me out of the way. That’s short-track racing, but what goes around comes around.”
Denny Hamlin moved from third to second as Logano and Truex rubbed each other en route to the checkered flag, while Kyle Busch finished fourth and heads to Texas Motor Speedway with the series points lead. Brad Keselowski finished fifth after battling his fellow Team Penske driver Logano for the lead in the final 100 laps.
PHOTO CAPTION: Joey Logano celebrates a Martinsville win and a berth in the championship in Victory Lane.
BY Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images for NASCAR