Aggressive driving puts Joey Logano in NASCAR crosshairs

Joey Logano is guilty of a few things, especially if you count aggressive driving as a sin.

But please don't make him out to be the Darth Vader of NASCAR.

Denny Hamlin has a hairline back fracture because both drivers were jockeying for the win on the last lap at Fontana on Sunday. It was nothing more than hard, aggressive racing.

Same deal involving Logano's dustup with Tony Stewart, who took exception to Logano's block with 11 laps remaining.

Stewart chased down Logano and threw a punch along pit road after the race. Logano countered by throwing a water bottle.

"If he ever turns down across in front of me again, I don't care what lap it is, he won't make it through the other end of it," said Stewart, who conveniently forgot he caused a 24-car smash-up at Talladega last year. "If I didn't hit the chip [on my rev limiter], he wouldn't have made it through Turn 1 to begin with. I'm tired of these guys doing that stuff, especially out of a kid that has been griping about everybody else and then he does that the next week."

Oh, my.

In just two weeks, Logano's reputation has gone from a guy who didn't make much trouble to the main instigator on the circuit. But once again, Logano shouldn't be vilified for injuring Hamlin, who was released from a hospital on Monday and remains uncertain on a timetable for a return.

That was byproduct of good hard racing — and the absence of a SAFER barrier along that stretch on the track. Nothing more, nothing less.

"They had their Bristol run-in the week before and had been going at it before that," SPEED TV analyst Kyle Petty said. "Kyle Busch said it best last night on NASCAR Victory Lane — that was two guys focused solely on each other going for the win and they just got together. They were so focused on each other that they never thought about him catching them and going by them. Davey Allison and I did it at Charlotte in 1992. We've seen it 1,000,000 times with two guys going for the win.

"Drivers drop their window nets and get out. Everybody claps and we don't think anything about it, but this time, Denny didn't climb out uninjured. But his injury doesn't make the incident any different than it would have been. I don't think they were running at each other to wreck each other. It was all about those two. It's not Joey's fault. I know it's a stupid saying, but that was a racing incident. The injury doesn't change anything."

Unfortunately, it does for Hamlin. NASCAR is off this week for Easter in a rare break, but Hamlin is likely to miss significant time behind the wheel, crushing his shot at a Cup championship.

Hamlin expects to meet with Dr. Jerry Petty in the Charlotte area on Wednesday or Thursday to determine what's best moving forward.

"The position I was in, I couldn't breathe at all," Hamlin told USA TODAY. "I'm still having a hard time breathing. Literally, when I felt a pop, I couldn't move at all and I knew I had to get flat to my back to be able to breathe again. That's why I rushed out and just laid flat on the ground to start breathing again."

Bad deal. Just don't blame Logano.

Read George Diaz's blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/enfuego or e-mail him at gdiaz@orlandosentinel.com

Nationwide dilemma

The most dominant driver in the Nationwide Series won't win the championship this season.

That would be you, Kyle Busch.

Busch has won three of five races this season but won't be eligible for the title because NASCAR doesn't allow full-time Cup drivers to be compete for the championship (unless they forfeit their eligibility for a Cup title, which would make no sense).

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