by Bob Bocras
NASCAR FOX Sports writer
when Joey Logano Matt Kenseth smashed to victory at Kansas Speedway in 2015, and was asked if he had changed the rules of engagement when it came to what drivers would like to do in the new qualifying system, with the win clinching a place in the qualifying.
“I haven’t changed any rules today,” Lugano said at the time. “NASCAR applies the rules. I just drive the race car. NASCAR makes the rules, and we play by them.
“There are no rules when it comes to the way we race against each other and the way we race hard, and I’m going to race the way people race me, and I expect the same.”
That was how Lugano felt then, and nothing seems to have changed.
Was Joey Logano’s move on William Byron justified?
Bob Bookras offers his thoughts on whether Joey Logano’s move on William Byron in Darlington was justified or sloppy racing.
In 2015, he got a payback from the Kenseth Incident, in which Kenseth made several rounds (from playoffs because he didn’t win in Kansas) destroying Lugano, the leader, in Martinsville. Kenseth was suspended for two races, but that was because he wasn’t racing for position, and despite being left out of the competition, it affected the championship.
When the driver races for the lead, anything seems to go at the top of NASCAR, and the match system has adopted a win-at-all-costs mentality, even when the driver believes he has been wronged in the process.
Nowhere was that more evident than on Sunday in Darlington, where Lugano drove hard in the back of the William Byron With more roll left. Lugano said Byron took the lead by about 22 laps by pressing him into the wall – a move, even if unintentional, that gave Byron the ring position needed to win the race.
Lugano decided at that point that if he got to Byron, Byron would pay for the move. The price turned out to be a huge boost – few people would have called it a big hit, because it sent Byron up the track and into the wall, rather than just taking it apart and collecting it back up – and thirteenth – Byron’s last position while Lugano celebrated victory.
Reaction to Lugano’s termination: It was an ‘aggressive and daring’ move
Was Joey Logano’s move on William Byron too much? Clint Boyr and Mike Joy react to the ending in Darlington.
Lugano only drove 35 laps all season. It was awful in Dover the week before Darlington. But in Darlington, he won the title and won the first stage of the season. It was perhaps one of his few chances to win, and with him being the 10th winner in 12 races so far this year, few, if any, will be available to the winning drivers.
So even without the connection between Lugano and Byron as they battled for the lead earlier in the race, some might see Lugano’s move as an acceptable desperation for qualifying.
“You should benefit when you have a car that can do that now, for sure,” Lugano said. “That opportunity was there to win, and you have to take it any chance you can because you don’t know anything about this new car.”
The next-generation car, introduced this season, tends to be stiffer and, for the most part, more durable (except for the toe linkage that attaches the axle to the frame). Lugano’s car wasn’t much damaged when Byron pressed him into the wall, but due to the way Byron’s car hit the wall, it was pretty badly damaged.
Lugano probably didn’t mean to destroy Byron so hard, but he certainly didn’t try to turn him away from himself. Perhaps Byron would have felt better afterwards if Lugano had at least tried to stick it together.
“It was faster,” Byron said then. “He could easily reach my left butt and relax my muscles.”
“He’s just a moron” – William Byron on Joey Logano after Darlington
William Byron was upset with Joey Logano after the race in Darlington, sending Logano Byron to the wall for the win.
But Lugano thought he didn’t have enough time for that, and Byron had set the rules of play in the previous incident.
“If that wasn’t what took the lead, I wouldn’t make the move,” Lugano said. “I’m going to try to race in a cleaner way and make the pass in a different way, but at that point, I knew there was only one way to secure a win, so I was doing this maneuver at that point.”
Byron and Lugano both seemed skeptical about how others viewed the initial contact. Byron said they were “barely” affected, and Lugano laughed at that characterization.
“We had a very clean restart,” Byron said. “Everyone at the bottom all day couldn’t get past that bump very well. It’s tight. There’s no reason to say ‘revenge.’ That’s stupid.”
Lugano said several times that he did “what I should have done”. With the track’s position so important, Lugano knew when Byron took the lead that he might not have a chance to hit his bumper. And Lugano knew that if Byron hadn’t taken that initial step, he would likely have made comfortable progress on his way to victory.
“If you were willing to take a step to gain the initiative by doing so, by hitting a car into a wall, you opened the door for revenge and victory,” Lugano said. “When it was only 20 laps before that, you have to expect it to happen. That’s why he went into the corner low and slow – because he knew it was coming.
“Is that what you have to do? Yes, you have to do it in this situation. You know you won’t get interfered. I won’t get bullied… I’ll tell you a lot. That’s how sport works. Our sport has worked like this for years.”
The destruction of the Brion Lugano accident
NASCAR RaceHub discusses the crash involving Joey Logano and William Byron with two rounds to go to Darlington.
But is this true? The sport has only used this win-and-entry system for a decade. Movements like this are rarely seen at circuits like Darlington and Kansas, where NASCAR will race this weekend.
Lugano has made some more aggressive moves, and while that might piss his rivals back and chase him back, he’s focused on winning races and putting himself in a position to win the title.
“At the end of the day, there are a lot of guys with wins and … we don’t lead the points, so I think Joey knows where he is and will do what he needs to,” Lugano crew chief Paul Wolff said.
It remains to be seen if this situation will change NASCAR’s unwritten rules. Most drivers at this level already have an idea of the line they will not cross.
“You have your mentality about how to make a race,” Rookie Cup Harrison Burton She said. “It’s a personal thing.
“For me, it definitely depends on the way that person races or how people around me race… let other people’s races affect the way they race.”
Harrison Burton on Joey Lugano’s Darlington move
Some post-Darlington chatter has focused on whether Joey Logano’s move will change the way others race. Novice driver Harrison Burton says most drivers already know how ready they are to win.
What to watch
Kansas is the first race on a 1.5-mile track that’s not a drafting track since Las Vegas. Expect the tough drivers in Vegas to be tough in Kansas. The right side frame is the same used in Fontana, Vegas and Darlington. The left side frame is the frame used in Dover.
Expect the winner to come from that group of six.
think out loud
With a history of antics, Kyle Busch will find it hard to take advantage of the suspicion that he can’t drive safely into the garage of Darlington Raceway on Sunday.
Bush, with one of his suspension pieces broken, parked his car on a pothole at the garage entrance, got off and walked to his pickup truck.
Last year, he was fined $50,000 for driving hard in a garage. He avoided any such penalty this year by…not driving into the garage at all.
He then said his car wouldn’t turn. Could this be true? certainly. But it would also be appropriate for Busch to stop in a fit of frustration and walk to the garage, thus avoiding the controversy he dealt with last year.
In some ways, that could be considered a clever thing. If there was any chance that he might not turn or might have trouble steering, he knows what that would have looked like too. Maybe he wanted to drive as fast as he could to his pickup truck, and park the car avoided any other trouble.
But some want to punish Bush, as it took a few laps to remove his parked car. To do this, NASCAR had to be sure that Bosch knew his car was drivable and made sure that Bosch was just as dramatic.
In this case, there is enough uncertainty to clear Busch of any “irregularities” in the eyes of NASCAR but not enough benefit of the doubt to the court of public opinion.
they said that
“I’ve been called a lot of things – a lot worse than a boob too. I’ve seen a lot of them when I got out of the car.” – Joey Logano’s reaction to being called a moron by William Byron
Bob Pokras has spent decades covering motorsports, including the last 30 games of the Daytona 500. He joined FOX Sports in 2019 after working for ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @Popocras. Looking for more NASCAR content? Subscribe to the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass!
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