Penske Racing driver Joey Logano has taken some heat for his often aggressive style on the track, but owner Roger Penske isn’t buying into the talk.
Logano was involved in a final-lap dust-up in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in California on Sunday that resulted in a fractured vertebrae for Denny Hamlin, as reported by RacinToday.com's managing editor Jim Pedley. It also led to an “altercation” with Tony Stewart following the race (per ESPN).
While Hamlin, Stewart and a number of other drivers are unhappy with Logano’s “reckless driving,” Penske gave his full support to the 22-year-old, as quoted in an ESPN report:
Listen, Joey is a great driver and what happened at the end there wasn't anything more than hard racing. I stand behind him and I think he's going to go down as one of the greatest drivers to ever race.
Penske’s praise comes on the heels of remarks Logano made following the race in which he claimed Hamlin “shouldn't have done what he did last week, so that's what he gets.”
Logano was unaware of the severity of Hamlin’s injury when he made that comment, and while Penske still backs his young driver, he did comment on how he handled his post-race interview:
That's a tough thing, Joey had no idea what the situation was with Denny when he was doing the interview. It's one of those things that came out and taken out of context isn't what he meant. He can't take it back, but people are certainly blowing that up to mean something different than what he knew at the time.
Logano has experienced his share of success since joining NASCAR in 2008. The 22-year-old has two wins and 42 top-10 finishes in the Sprint Cup Series in that span. He currently ranks No. 9 in the 2013 Sprint Cup rankings after finishing 17th in the final rankings for 2012.
Nicknamed “Sliced Bread,” Logano has the track record to warrant the hype of being one of NASCAR’s next big things. As long as he continues churning out top-10 finishes and has the backing of Penske, he stands to have a bright future in racing—though his reputation could use a little work.