Denny Hamlin looked to be in route to his first victory of the season Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway. After starting third the Joe Gibbs Racing driver stayed inside the top five and took the lead on lap 61 of the 500 lap event. He would hold that lead until lap 146 when lapped traffic allowed eventual race winner Kasey Kahne to take the point.
On lap 156 during a caution Hamlin won the race off pit road and retook the lead. But in lap 185 a loose wheel forced him to take it easy on his Toyota and allowed Kahne back by. The crew was able to change the wheel during a pit stop, but on the start Hamlin fell back to 12th. He was able to regain ground and was inside the top five by lap 275. By lap 372 it was made official that Hamlin led the most laps on the day, 117.
But on lap 341 Hamlin’s day began to unravel. While in third trying to race towards the front, Hamlin came up on Joey Logano in second. As the former Joe Gibbs Racing teammates entered turn one, Hamlin appeared to slip up into Logano sending the Penske Ford into the wall. Logano would recover but was none too pleased with the move.
“That’s a freaking genius behind the wheel of the 11 (Hamlin) car,” Logano said. “Probably the worst teammate I ever had, so I learned that now. He decided to run in the back of me, so, whatever. I have a scorecard and I’m not putting up with that. What goes around comes around. He already ran down his right-front tire, so he deserves it.”
Hamlin said later that the on-track feud had nothing to do with the war of words the two driver s staged on social media following an incident at Phoenix a few weeks ago.
"No, it didn't have anything to do with that,” Hamlin said. “Really, you've got to control your car and he slid up into me and really he would have been in the garage with no radiator in it had I not checked up twice, so I just -- I meant to run into him. Didn't mean to spin him out, but his day was fine. He still had a bad day anyway for whatever reason. We finished bad. He finished bad. It's even."
What Hamlin referred to in an incident late in the race when he had a tire go down. He would hold on for the final laps to finish 23 two laps down. After the race, a clearly upset Logano tried to confront Hamlin while the latter still sat in his car. Hamlin’s crewmembers quickly intervened and pushed Logano away.
"He said he was coming for me,” Hamlin said. “I usually don't see him, so it's usually not a factor."