In a race that is prone to heated exchanges and tough driving, Martinsville once again had one hell of an exciting finish. On the final lap of the 500-lap short track race, Joey Logano did a bump-and-run on Martin Truex Jr. on turn 3. The two continued to ride door-to-door through turn 4, bumping into each other the whole way down, before Logano passed Truex Jr. across the finish line into victory lane.
Due to the rough driving between the two drivers down the final stretch, Truex Jr. finished 3rd as Denny Hamlin snuck by for 2nd. Clearly unhappy with the result, Truex made his feelings known by driving into Logano’s bumper across the finish line, yelling, “Miami baby,” in his headset. Truex was referring to the championship race on Nov. 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, which fans can now expect a heated matchup between the two and possible retaliation.
“He won the battle, but he’s not going to win the damn war,” Truex said. “I’m just not going to let him win [the championship]. I’m going to win it… [I’ll repay him] whenever he is first and I’m second and we’re coming off Turn 4 or coming into Turn 3 — we’ll just have to wait and see.”
As the 2017 NASCAR champion, Truex has had an outstanding 2018 season with 19 top-5 finishes and 4 wins. Currently ranked 2nd, Truex is in the playoffs and appears as one of the favorites in the final round of 4. With a win tonight in Martinsville, Logano has cemented his spot as one of the four drivers eligible for the championship race in Miami. Regardless of his controversial win however, Logano believes he did what any other competitive driver in that situation would have done.
“We didn’t wreck each other,” Logano said. “We bumped into each other a lot and that is what this sport was built on. I know a lot of fans out there aren’t too happy about it, but it is racing and that is what NASCAR is about and what stock car racing is.”
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) October 28, 2018
Martinsville is Built for Controversial Finishes
While some NASCAR fans agree with Logano’s point of view, plenty are furious with the outcome. This type of racing however, is not uncommon for Martinsville. During this race last year, Denny Hamlin dumped Chase Elliott in what would have been his first Monster Cup Series victory. This escalated into a heated exchange between the two drivers as they got out of their cars on the track and in each other’s faces. Regardless of the fan base outrage, this conclusion in Martinsville was calmed compared to that exchange last year.
Stop Being So Soft
In my opinion, it’s fairly hypocritical for NASCAR fans to constantly beg for the return of the Dale Earnhardt style of racing just to turn around and complain about this finish. Dale Earnhardt was known as the Intimidator for God’s sake. In reality, I think this finish is only considered controversial for one of two reasons. Either, the remaining NASCAR fan base has gotten extraordinary soft, as we saw a similar reaction to Austin Dillion’s win at Dayton earlier this season. Or, fans are just angry because Joey Logano is one of the most hated NASCAR drivers.
I fully support getting irrationally pissed when a driver you hate wins. Especially if he’s the reason your driver didn’t. Vocalize that as the reason you are pissed Joey Logana won in Martinsville then, not that it was a dirty move. Bumping and rubbing happens, especially in Martinsville. Logano put it best by saying, “that is what the sport was built on.” If you think that was a dirty move, there is plenty of clean racing for you to watch over in Europe with F1.
Regardless of your opinion on the Martinsville finish, the 3 remaining races are only going to get more heated from here on out. The idea of a pissed off driver seeking revenge at the end of the season is exciting. Unfortunately, I have my doubts about that actually happening as Truex is usually a pretty clean driver. It would be great for him to get one last championship before the Furniture Row Racing team closes its doors and we experience the 2019 driver changes. Nevertheless, the 2018 NASCAR season finale is getting very close and very interesting.