Joey Logano's Last Lap Move on Martin Truex Jr. at Martinsville is Far From Dirty Given Circumstances
by Julian Spivey
Almost proving you can’t have anything nice in the sport of NASCAR, the final lap at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 28 was one of the most epic final laps in the entire history of the sport but left many within the sport and its fans torn as to whether it was fair or dirty.
In the final laps of the race 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. was racing leader Joey Logano for the race win and as both are in the final eight of the playoffs a win would give each driver an automatic bid to the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in mid-November.
Truex Jr. raced Logano hard, but rarely contacted the No. 22 Ford driver in the waning laps of the race before finally making the pass for the lead. There’s no doubt that Truex Jr. raced Logano cleanly, but on the final lap of a race, particularly a short-track race where it’s hard to pass without making contact, and in a race whether the winner makes it to the championship race drivers should and most would do almost anything for the win. Even if a championship bid wasn’t on the line, most would do whatever it took to see Victory Lane.
Knowing he would have to get a little physical with Truex Jr. if he wanted to win the race and make it to Miami, Logano gave Truex Jr. the customary bump out of the way and then as the two were coming to the finish line they made contact at the door with both losing control of their cars. Logano had just enough control to reach the finish line before a hard charging Denny Hamlin in third place could take advantage of the contact between Logano and Truex Jr. and steal a win.
The final lap was epic. But, Truex Jr. felt it was a dirty move by Logano stating in an interview after the race: “[He] may have won the battle, but he ain’t going to win the damn war.” And, “What goes around comes around.” Maybe, NASCAR drivers need to learn some new clichés. Also, Truex Jr. needs to get more physical if he wants to win some of these hard fought races on skill and ability instead of relying simply on fast speed. These were the quotes of someone who doesn’t like the old “rubbing is racing” adage that’s been acceptable in NASCAR almost as long as there has been a sport. It could also be proof as to why Truex Jr. has the most wins of any NASCAR driver who has never won a short track race.
Logano didn’t dump Truex Jr. on the final lap of the race, as we have seen from drivers in the past like Hamlin on Chase Elliott just last year, but rather raced him in the manner that has come to define great short track races within the history of the sport. The last lap of Martinsville on Sunday is why fans and people within the sport are both begging for more short tracks on the Cup Series schedule. Logano’s move was physical, it was aggressive, but it was far from “dirty.”
But, because Logano is likely one of the two most hated drivers within the sport (along with the perpetually booed Kyle Busch) there were a lot of fans, both at the track yesterday and on social media, that didn’t like the move. If it had been a move made by Kyle Larson, as we saw at Chicagoland back in July, the stands and social media wouldn’t exploded into uproarious applause and cheers.
Today we should be talking about how great the finish of Martinsville was for the sport of NASCAR, but instead we’re split on whether or not it was a “dirty” final lap of racing. Sometimes with this sport we just need to enjoy the moments that made many of us love it in the first place.