A chaotic final lap to Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway will yield no penalties from NASCAR.
The sanctioning body believes that Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin were not trying to intentionally wreck each other while racing for the victory — which wound up going to Kyle Busch, who passed the pair on the high line as they were colliding together (see above).
“It was the last lap of the race, and the last time they were both going to see Turns 3 and 4,” Sprint Cup Series director John Darby told the AP’s Jenna Fryer. “They were side-by-side. If somebody was of the mindset to retaliate, they probably would have been lined up nose-to-tail and somebody would have drove into the other car and spun him around.
“In this case, that is so far from the opposite, that it never even crossed anybody’s mind that I’m aware of that paid attention to the race.”
In addition, Tony Stewart shall escape punishment after trading shoves with Logano on pit road after the race. Logano had blocked Stewart down to the apron during the race’s final restart, causing Stewart to go after the Penske Racing driver. After a brief dustup, the drivers’ crews separated them.
“A few years ago we backed away from micromanaging drivers’ emotions,” Darby said about the incident. “You would hope in today’s world that if somebody didn’t win a race, they would be upset about it.
“I don’t know that we’ve actually got a rule book that describes every push in the chest or kick in the shin. If two guys get into a helluva fight, we’re going to have to react. But a couple of guys blowing off some steam and slapping at the air is not going to get anybody in a whole lot of trouble.”
Hamlin eventually spun and hit the inside retaining wall, suffering a compression fracture in his L1 vertebrae as a result. He was released from a Southern California hospital last night, but it is currently unknown when he’ll be expected to return to the track.