J.D. Gibbs addresses Hamlin-Logano

The president of Joe Gibbs Racing does not believe Joey Logano's motive was to keep Denny Hamlin from winning when the two wrecked on the last lap of Sunday's Sprint Cup race at California's Auto Club Speedway.

J.D. Gibbs also doesn't believe Logano knew Hamlin was injured — as Logano has confirmed — when he said his former JGR teammate got what he deserved in the wreck.

Hamlin crashed into a concrete retaining wall and suffered a compression fracture in his lower back that is expected to sideline him for at least the next five races, beginning with the April 7 event at Martinsville.

Since then, speculation on what happened between the two drivers who feuded a week earlier at Bristol has escalated.

At Bristol, Hamlin wrecked Logano while Logano was racing Jeff Gordon for the lead late at Bristol, leading to a shoving match on pit road between the team crews and a war of words on Twitter between the drivers.

Afterward, Hamlin said Logano told him he was coming for him.

"I think [Logano] was definitely racing for the win,'' Gibbs said during a Thursday conference call. "He was going for it. He's had some fast cars both those last couple of races. I don't know how much the week before played into it. … My guess, whoever it was [next to him], he was going to try to win that thing.''

Gibbs said he has heard from Logano's team owner, Roger Penske, but not Logano since the wreck. He admitted there were times when the relationship between Logano and Hamlin at JGR were tense, but nothing he would call major.

Logano moved to Penske Racing this season after JGR decided to replace him in the No. 20 car with 2003 Cup champion Matt Kenseth.

"There were a few things that popped up, like [in] a Nationwide race here or there. There was some frustration,'' Gibbs said of the relationship between Logano and Hamlin at JGR. "I didn't see anything major.

"I wasn't in the middle of it. I think what we were hoping for, if Joey had that breakout streak, I think that would have all gone away for Denny. I don't have direct knowledge to say what exactly was there. There was some tension at times, but overall nothing major.''

Logano said Sunday the two raced each other harder than they might have had it not been for Bristol. He also said he was trying to win the race, not wreck Hamlin.

"My personal take is Joey was just really trying to make a point.'' Gibbs said. "He was pushing it. He was like, 'Hey, I'm going to win this thing or else.'''

On Logano's postrace remarks, Gibbs said, "When he realized Denny was hurt, it took a whole new turn. He's really, from what I've seen, hurt by that as well.''

Hamlin and Logano reportedly have exchanged text messages, and according to Hamlin, "it didn't go well.''

Gibbs' focus is on Hamlin's recovery and finding a replacement driver. Sources told ESPN.com that Mark Martin and Brian Vickers, who split the No. 55 Toyota at Michael Waltrip Racing, are strong candidates.

"Obviously, when Joey was over here, he was a great teammate,'' Gibbs said. "For Joey, he's trying to make something happen, which I understand at Penske.

"Afterwards, Joey said some stuff. I don't think he realized Denny was hurt. I think he would take that back. … Hey, we like Joey. But at the same time we're just really hurting and of praying for Denny." ESPN.com

Leave a Reply