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Monday, March 25, 2013

Lessons to learn from Hamlin-Logano wreck, Hamlin’s injury

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, Calif. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)


The action was fast and furious at Fontana this past weekend, but it did not come without casualties.

Denny Hamlin hit the wall hard after wrecking on the last lap with rival Joey Logano, and the result was a fracture of his L1 vertebra.
The upshot is that surgery may be necessary and Hamlin might not be in the car for a while, a tough break for Denny -- who has been very fast this year.

What do we learn from this?

1. SAFER barriers are needed on all walls, even those on the inside of the track. Drivers wreck pretty much everywhere, and if tracks can’t comply with this, more drivers will get hurt. Denny would likely not have been injured as seriously if he had hit a wall with a SAFER barrier, so hopefully this is a wakeup call at Fontana and other tracks.

2. Hard racing can often lead to unexpected consequences. Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano were obviously hot to beat each other after last week’s exchange. But considering how this ended up, I wonder if Denny wishes he hadn’t taken the battle so far. His chance to run for the Cup is likely over, and if he had been a little less aggressive, maybe he’d be OK right now. This is of course a case of hindsight being 20/20, and drivers will always want to race hard for the win, but seeing how this accident has affected Denny might make some drivers think twice this year about battling too hard for one individual spot if it means that a wreck of this nature might be likely as a result.

3. Those who say Joey Logano is to blame for Denny’s injury are missing the point. This was good hard racing, the kind of thing people want to see, and it just took a wrong turn. Fans want rivalries, and rival drivers to race each other hard. Joey didn’t mean to cause a wreck, much less hurt Hamlin in the process. He was just racing for the win, just like Denny. Any call for other drivers to retaliate against Joey for this is misguided and dangerous.

More takes:

Click here to read about my take on the Logano-Stewart “fight” that happened after the Fontana race.

Click here to read about the future and what it may hold for Stewart-Haas racing, which has struggled so far in 2013.


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