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NASCAR's J.D. Gibbs doesn't see Denny Hamlin crash as payback

March 28, 2013|By Jim Peltz
  • J.D. Gibbs does not think there was any ill intent in the Joey Logano-Denny Hamlin crash.
J.D. Gibbs does not think there was any ill intent in the Joey Logano-Denny… (Associated Press )

J.D. Gibbs, president of Denny Hamlin's NASCAR team Joe Gibbs Racing, said Thursday he did not think Hamlin's crash with Joey Logano that left Hamlin with a back injury was a form of payback by Logano because the drivers have been feuding.

"My personal take is that I think Joey was just really trying to make a point, he was pushing it" as the two raced side by side for the win on the last lap of Sunday's race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Gibbs told reporters on a conference call.

Hamlin and Logano also had made contact and exchanged words a week earlier in Bristol, Tenn., and "I don't know how much the week before played into it" when the two collided, spun and crashed in Fontana, Gibbs said.

Logano "was definitely racing for the win," Gibbs said. But when pressed about whether he thought Logano was intentionally trying to wreck Hamlin, Gibbs replied: "I don't, I don't."

NASCAR opted not to issue any penalties stemming from the race, and Gibbs said "we're comfortable in their decisions."

Hamlin suffered a compression fracture in his lower back after his car slammed head-on into an inside retaining wall at Auto Club Speedway. "He's handling it well but I know he's just frustrated," Gibbs said of Hamlin.

Logano formerly was on the Gibbs team and Gibbs said, "We like Joey, but at the same time we're just really hurting and kind of praying for Denny."

Hamlin, 32, is expected to be sidelined about six weeks, and Gibbs said the team was still deciding who would replace Hamlin in the No. 11 Toyota in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series.

"There's several guys" being considered, "and we're kind of figuring out what would be the best fit," Gibbs said.

[Updated: 6:10 p.m. March 28: Gibbs later announced that veteran Mark Martin would replace Hamlin, starting with the next Cup race April 7 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.]

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