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NASCAR won't penalize any drivers after wild Fontana race

March 26, 2013|By Jim Peltz
  • Rescue workers tend to the wreckage of the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota driven by Denny Hamlin after he collided with Joey Logano on the final lap of the NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race in Fontana on Sunday.
Rescue workers tend to the wreckage of the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota driven… (Reed Saxon / Associated…)

NASCAR on Tuesday said it would not penalize Joey Logano, Tony Stewart or any other driver following the wild finish to the race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.

Logano and Denny Hamlin, who already were feuding, collided on the last lap of Sunday's Auto Club 400 as they raced for the win.

Both cars spun and Hamlin slammed into an inside retaining wall, with Hamlin suffering a lower-back injury that could sideline the Joe Gibbs Racing driver.

Soon afterward, Stewart -- angry at how Logano blocked him on the race's final restart -- got into a shoving match on pit road and they had to be separated by their crews.

In the first case, NASCAR decided Logano and Hamlin simply were racing hard for the victory and found no grounds for a penalty, John Darby, NASCAR's managing director of competition, told reporters on a conference call.

The Logano-Stewart tussle or Logano's blocking maneuver likewise did not warrant a penalty, Darby said.

"A few years ago we backed away from micromanaging drivers' emotions," Darby said, referring to the "Boys, have at it" doctrine that NASCAR adopted. "A couple of drivers at the end of a race arguing a little bit doesn't create a foul in our world today."

Hamlin crashed into a concrete wall that was not protected by one of the so-called SAFER, or soft-wall, barriers increasingly used in motor racing today that lessen the force of an impact.

Darby said that "in light of that [Hamlin] accident I'm sure [the wall] will be re-looked at" and that if safety experts recommend putting a SAFER barrier in that spot, "I'm sure the speedway will follow suit."

Auto Club Speedway President Gillian Zucker confirmed that if such a recommendation is made, "we'll do it." There already are SAFER barriers around parts of the two-mile Fontana oval, including the inside wall on the back straightaway.


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