The end of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway saw an exciting day of racing end with two drivers bumping and grinding sheet metal on the final lap. The battle took both drivers out of the lead and allowed the third place car to win. The ensuing wreck also sent one driver to the hospital.
In the modern day of instant information, the Joe Gibbs Racing team showed amazing poise and class by not entering into the new-media fray. Online media and post race news shows exploded after Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano brought last week’s arguments from Bristol to the final laps of the Auto Club 400.
The wreck sent Logano to the pits where he encountered an angry Tony Stewart, who was apparently mad about a block that Logano threw during the last restart. While Logano and Stewart were arguing, Hamlin was trying to fight through an injury in order to exit his demolished car. Hamlin was eventually sent to the a local hospital via helicopter.
In my email box, which was flooded with post race weekend press releases, one email stood out. It was a release from Joe Gibbs Racing. I’ve added the entire release below.
“HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (March 24, 2013) – Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) driver Denny Hamlin was involved in an accident on the final lap of today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway.
Hamlin complained of lower back pain at the track’s infield medical center and was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation. Hamlin will remain at the hospital overnight for observation.
No further updates are expected tonight.”
That is the entire release. The team was matter of fact, professional and direct with a response. There was no overtones, no arguments, no finger pointing or anything alluding to the friction between two NASCAR drivers. That’s a credit to the professionalism of Joe Gibbs.
Hamlin collapsed into the arms of a track emergency worker as he exited his car. He was then put on a stretcher and sent to the infield care center where they made the call to send him to the hospital. The wreck occurred when Hamlin and Logano were racing for the win.
The accident was the second in two weeks between the former JGR teammates. During the race last week at Bristol Motor Speedway, Hamlin spun Logano as they battled for second. This allowed JGR driver Kyle Busch to speed by for the win. It gave Toyota it’s first win in a NSCS race at Fontana.