There was plenty of pressure on Denny Hamlin and his No. 11 FedEx Toyota team going into Sunday's Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Hamlin entered below the playoff cutline, and by the end of the race, he came up just shy of reaching the Championship Four.
Hamlin will have to wait yet another year to capture that elusive championship. However, he did have a car that could have broken through and won Sunday's race. For the better part of half the race, Hamlin put his car out front, including winning the opening stage.
The only problem in his way was the three Team Penske cars. Ryan Blaney ultimately won the race and booked his ticket to Phoenix to run for the championship but the biggest thorn in Hamlin's side ended up being an old foe, Joey Logano.
Hamlin and Logano's history runs deep in the NASCAR Cup Series, as both were teammates once at Joe Gibbs Racing. Some bad blood from those days always seems to re-emerge between the two and that was no different Sunday.
Hamlin wasn't too fond of Logano, who ironically is Blaney's teammate and may have given a little help to Blaney's cause. Logano aggressively battled with Hamlin and his younger teammate, Ty Gibbs, at a crucial point in the race, which caused Gibbs to spin and wreck, nearly taking out Hamlin.
Hamlin had some criticism about Logano in a post-race interview with Fox Sports' Bob Pockrass.
"The only issue I really had was with Logano knocking out Ty there—knocking Ty into me. Just thought some more respect to be had there. Myself and (Ryan Blaney) are trying to earn a spot in the Final Four, and I thought we deserved a chance to race it amongst ourselves and not have someone else in there knocking cars around," Hamlin said.
Denny Hamlin on what was going through his mind in the final stage when Ryan Blaney was pulling away and also what he thought of how non-playoff drivers raced (he wasn?t thrilled with Joey Logano). pic.twitter.com/IOB5Gc2pfA
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) October 29, 2023
Hamlin also had some harsh words for Logano over his radio, as the Athletic's Jordan Bianchi caught the profanity-filled rant.
"F***ing Joey (Logano), he's a f**ing piece of sh** human," Hamlin said.
Hamlin hasn't been too fond of Team Penske drivers of late as he and Ryan Blaney previously had a run-in at Homestead.
Martinsville once again added a new chapter to the Joey Logano-Denny Hamlin feud that had grown pretty quiet since the two's last physical exchange at the fall Martinsville race in 2019.
Another season and no championship for Hamlin. Back to square one for NASCAR's Public Enemy No. 1.
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