It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.
All it took Sunday evening was one little bump between Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano for the 20-year-old driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota to become someone we'd never seen.
Logano, usually cool and collected when things go wrong, was absolutely livid. The only thing he had ever done before to a driver he felt did him wrong was fire a couple of verbal blows into a camera after a race, and then that was it.
After the Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500, Logano was downright confrontational.
This wasn't the first time Logano has been punted by the bumper of Harvick. During the final lap in a Nationwide Series Race at Bristol, Harvick spun Logano out racing for fifth position. Logano finished 14th with a wreck race car.
Flash-forward to Sunday’s race at Pocono, which was delayed by a storm that foreshadowed the crazy final laps of the event. With two laps to go, the two drivers were once again racing for fifth. Entering turn three, both appeared to be aiming for an area of the track that had been repaved a couple of years ago and has since been nicknamed “The Grip Strip.”
Harvick offered Logano no room. Logano, thinking he would, entered the corner normally to run the high line, only to turn across the front bumper of Harvick’s No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet. Logano spun while Harvick drove into the sunset.
The ensuing caution set up a green-white-checkered finish, which claimed several cars in a wreck on the straightaway between turns one and two. Logano drove through the mess, rebounding to finish 13th . Harvick finished fourth.
After the race was finished, Logano parked his car adjacent to Harvick’s. After his father, Tom Logano, was able to separate his son from one of the crewman who was holding him back, the younger Logano stormed over to Harvick’s car. There he met seemingly Harvick’s entire crew, who made a barrier between their driver and the fuming young man.
There, the usually calm and collected Logano began yelling things that, if you can read lips, would have made a sailor blush.
We saw anger in his eyes. We saw passion. And it’s about time.
Since joining the ranks of NASCAR’s top three series at the age of 18, Logano has been heralded as one of the brightest future stars in the sport. However, he’s taken his lumps to get to where he is today.
Along with Harvick, he’s had multiple run-ins on the track with several other drivers, including veteran Greg Biffle and fellow up and comer Brad Keselowski. While he’s voiced his displeasure when facing the media after stepping out of his car, he’s never done anything that would instill belief in other drivers that there would be consequences to pushing him around.
Now, that’s all changed. Logano came after Harvick in the same way that Jeff Burton went after Kyle Busch over a week ago at Charlotte. He’s done taking it. No more Mr. Nice Guy.
That’s the way it has to be if he’s really going to become a star in this sport.
That doesn’t mean Logano needs to go out there at Michigan with a take no prisoners mentality and run over everything but the pace car.
It just means that when he’s wronged, he needs to be willing to issue some payback. He needs to be willing to jump down someone’s throat.
He’s there now. That first big confrontation was great to watch and provided some excellent sound bites.
“I don’t know what his problem is with me, but it’s probably not his fault,” Logano said. “His wife wears the fire suit in the family and tells him what to do.”
Alan from the film The Hangover would have said that was, “Classic.”
His anger at the contact mainly stemmed from him being right in the middle of the Race to the Chase. He’s currently 17th in the points, 101 markers behind 12th place Clint Bowyer. That’s what made losing a guaranteed fifth or sixth place finish so costly, and needless to say, aggravating.
The fact that it was Harvick once again bumping him in such a similar manner was only fuel for the fire.
“It’s disappointing, to be honest with you. We had a top five run going.....That was going to be awesome. I was pretty pumped up about it.”
Pocono, not usually known for fireworks, provided plenty of them in the closing laps Sunday evening. It also marked a change in one of the sport’s growing talents.
Joey Logano is finished with being a pushover in the garage. It’s time to start fighting back.