NASCAR suspended Team Penske crew member Dave Nichols Jr. for one race for his involvement in the Joey Logano vs. Denny Hamlin scrap at Martinsville Speedway. According to Logano’s crew chief Todd Gordon, Nichols, who is a tire specialist for Logano’s team, was trying to separate the two drivers, but did so too forcefully by grabbing Hamlin from behind and throwing him to the ground.
“The direction that our organization has is separate drivers,” Gordon said Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We don’t want to have drivers beating on each other.
“Unfortunately, in this situation that happened there, the separation was with too much power afterwards and I don’t think the crew member … he was trying to separate the drivers and did so with probably more force than he anticipated and he’s regretful of that.”
This article, originally published October 28, was updated to include the suspension of Dave Nichols Jr.
Joey Logano vs. Denny Hamlin Fight at Martinsville
What started as a seemingly civil conversation between Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin after the NASCAR Cup Series Round of 8 opener at Martinsville Speedway ended in a heated scuffle that neither drivers probably saw coming. After Martin Truex Jr. cruised to victory at the First Data 500 on October 27, Logano and Hamlin stood in front of Logano’s pit box and discussed Hamlin’s decision to push Logano’s car into the wall.
As Logano started to walk away, it seemed like that would be that, but tempers flared after gave Hamlin a hard parting shove, leading to a scrap between both teams.
Following the pit road altercation, Hamlin gave his side of the story.
“We were having a discussion, and everything was civil. And then like Joey does, he does a little push and then runs away,” the driver for Joe Gibbs Racing said.
“That’s Joey. He’s scared. He said, ‘Do you want to go?’ I said, ‘Yes, I’m here.’ And then he runs away.”
Logano, who drives the No. 22 Ford for Team Penske, added, “I just wanted to talk to him about (the on-track incident). I was pretty frustrated. He kind of came off the corner like he didn’t have a car on the outside of him. It ruined our day. We had a shot at the win for sure.”
“I just wanted to see what he was going to say. He really wasn’t apologetic at all. And that’s more frustrating when someone is like that, isn’t it? I just wanted to see what his thoughts were, and it wasn’t quite the answer I was looking for.”
Not surprisingly, NASCAR officials weren’t thrilled about the Martinsville brawl. On Monday morning, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell said on NASCAR radio that a penalty will likely be coming as a result of the fight, which he says was exacerbated by an unnamed pit crew member.
“We know emotions are going to run high, especially at this time of the season,” O’Donnell said. “We don’t encourage it, but we know the drivers are going to address each other after the race when they have an incident. Then unfortunately, instead of breaking up a fight, I think what we saw was an aggressive move by a crew member. I think in this case, you have a crew member who was maybe trying to break it up, but certainly an aggressive move we viewed on our part and unfortunately, we’ll probably have to take some action to address that today or tomorrow.”
With his victory at Sunday’s race, Martin Truex is the first driver to secure his spot in the Championship 4 race in November at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Here are how the rest of the standings are shaping up heading into the next NASCAR playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Per For the Win:
With the first of three playoff races before the final round before the four-contender championship race, Hamlin is second in the standings (+24 points ahead of the cutoff), Kyle Busch is third (+17 points) and Logano is fourth (+14 points). Kevin Harvick, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott are the other drivers in the Round of 8 and are all below the cutoff after Martinsville.