While the fans were entertained by the theatrics following the First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway, a Team Penske crew member will missing the action at Texas Motor Speedway as a result.
Dave Nichols Jr., a tire technician for Joey Logano’s No. 22 team, has been suspended for a single Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. His role in the altercation violated Section 12.8.1.C of the 2019 NASCAR Rule Book, a behavioral penalty that addresses “member-to-member confrontation with physical violence.”
After finishing ninth in the First Data 500, Logano went down to speak with Denny Hamlin as he was unhappy with the contact between the pair coming off of turn four, resulting in Logano suffering a flat tire and a spin.
As the two drivers went back and forth, Nichols Jr. pulled Hamlin from behind, causing him to fall over.
“We were having a discussion and everything was civil and then like Joey (Logano) does, he gives a little push and runs away,” Hamlin said afterwards. “That’s Joey. I mean he said ‘you want to go?’ I said ‘yes, I’m here,’ but then he runs away.”
Logano stated he shoved Hamlin due to being mad, but regretted the move afterwards.
“Like I said, that wasn’t as professional as I should be,” he commented. “I wanted to have the conversation, but, like I said, the answers he was giving I felt wasn’t good enough and made me more mad.”
Although the slogan from NASCAR has been “boys, have at it,” it is meant to remain between the drivers.
“You had a crew member who, honestly, I don’t think realized the force with which he made that move,” NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We have some light drivers and some big crew members and unfortunately that’s what happens when those situations take place. I think they understand what’s coming. It’s not something we want to see or encourage but we’ll have to address.”
The penalty was accepted by Team Penske, with crew chief Todd Gordon shouldering the blame.
“The direction that our organization has is separate drivers,” Gordon said 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 is not the first incident between the pair, as Hamlin was unhappy with how Logano raced him a couple weeks ago at Dover International Speedway multiple laps down. They also crossed paths on two occasions in 2013 at Bristol Motor Speedway and Auto Club Speedway.
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