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'I Didn't Do Anything,' Joey Logano Says As Some Tried To Blame Multi-Car Wreck At Fontana On Him
Joey Logano was leading the race heading into a restart at lap 87, but the lengthened restart zone affected drivers' timing and caused a huge crash.
Dramatic wrecks in NASCAR are often followed by the blame game. It was no different Sunday at Fontana, which saw a multi-car crash coming out of a restart. But for anyone attempting to cast blame in defending Cup Series champ Joey Logano's direction, he's got a response: don't look at me.
As the green flag dropped on lap 87 of the Pala Casino 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, a chain-reaction crash in the newly remodeled restart zone rippled through the field, knocking four cars out of the race that included Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick, Ryan Preece and Aric Almirola. In total, the accordion crash involved a whopping 10 cars.
At this point in the event, Logano was the race leader and, as such, he’s supposed be the first to put the pedal to the metal, but instead of immediately hitting the gas, he cruised deeper into the lengthened restart zone – one that has been expanded in this season’s first five races by 50 percent as an experiment. But the drivers behind him goth their timing wrong and that caused the chaotic pileup.
While his unapologetic, aggressive style has irked his fellow competitors in the past, Logano adamantly defended his actions this time around in Fontana.
“Go back and look at the data – I didn’t do anything,” Logano declared, according to Motorsport.com. “I just rolled it and went like everyone was anticipating it. It’s part of the new restart zone – it’s bigger. So, you can’t anticipate as much as you used to without getting into trouble.”
“I went late in the zone because the car to the inside of me was laying back, so I was waiting for him to get up next to me before I went,” he added. “I didn’t brake check anyone. It might look like it, but you can go back and look at it and see it’s not there.”
Other racers felt much differently.
“I think the leader was just playing games, trying to prevent the runs coming from behind, and they stopped in the middle of the restart zone right about where they should have been accelerating,” stated Aric Almirola, according to Motorsport.com, which noted that Almirola had been told by his spotter that Logano was to blame for the accident.
“It was just a huge accordion effect,” continued Almirola. “We were back in 16th, so everybody just started stacking up, and you can’t stop on a dime. It’s disappointing to get wrecked out of the race like that on a silly Mickey Mouse restart, but I should have known better.”
For what it's worth, NBC Sports' Nate Ryan and Jeff Burton discussed the crash and sided with Logano – it was the lengthened restart zone that was the real culprit, not anything Logano actively did.
After the race which Kyle Busch won, Logano, who finished in the 10th spot, may have poured a little salt in the wounds of his fellow competitors during the Xfinity Series broadcast that he hosted with his teammate Ryan Blaney. A promotional graphic that featured Denny Hamlin, Logano, Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson played on screen and, grabbing the telestrator, Logano drew mustaches on both Hamlin and Elliott. While the stunt was clearly intended to be in jest, there’s one thing NASCAR drivers enjoy almost as much as winning: good ole fashioned payback.