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After wild Fontana race, NASCAR heads to Martinsville Speedway

April 03, 2013|By Jim Peltz
  • Joey Logano is held back by crew members after an altercation on track with Tony Stewart (not pictured) after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 in Fontana on March 24.
Joey Logano is held back by crew members after an altercation on track with… (Jonathan Ferrey / Getty…)

When we last saw NASCAR in action, at Fontana, there was a last-lap crash among the leaders, a post-race brawl between Joey Logano and Tony Stewart, and an ambulance was taking away an injured Denny Hamlin.

Now, after a week off for Easter, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the cramped, half-mile Martinsville (Va.) Speedway for its next race Sunday. And all eyes will be on Logano and Stewart to see if their feud surfaces again.

"You have to know what's going on and watch out for the dramas," driver Ryan Newman told reporters Tuesday. "I don't know if there will be retaliation, I don't know if they'll talk and never have retaliation. Who knows?"

Stewart got into a shoving match with Logano after the race at Auto Club Speedway because Stewart was irate at how Logano had blocked him on the final restart.

Minutes earlier, Logano and Hamlin had crashed on the last lap while racing each other for the win. Kyle Busch passed their wrecking cars to grab the victory and Hamlin suffered a lower back injury as his car slammed head-on into the wall.

Hamlin is out for about six weeks. Mark Martin will drive Hamlin's No. 11 Toyota on Sunday.

Hardly noticed at the time was that Dale Earnhardt Jr. left Fontana with the Cup points lead. But Earnhardt -- who has yet to win this season -- said that with only five races in the books so far this year, his lead was nothing to trumpet.

"We're not winning races and I don't expect to get much attention until we can win races," the popular driver said on a media conference call Tuesday.

Earnhardt said that under the guidance of his crew chief Steve Letarte he was doing a better job of closing races with strong finishes in his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

But Earnhardt said "we need to be running up in the top two, three all day long. We just need to run a little better."

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