Monday, June 7, 2010
NASCAR warns Logano's dad
By David Newton
LONG POND, Pa. -- The father of Sprint Cup driver Joey Logano will not have his NASCAR credential pulled for the second time in a year after being called to the hauler for his behavior following Sunday's race at Pocono Raceway.
But Tom Logano was told strongly by NASCAR officials that he crossed the line when he allegedly shoved a television broadcaster out of the way -- an allegation he disputes -- while his 20-year-old son tried to get to Sprint Cup Series points leader Kevin Harvick on pit road.
"You can't deny the fact of a passionate parent," series director John Darby said after the race. "You have to appreciate it, but there has to be line in the sand as to how far that passion can go."
The younger Logano was angry that Harvick spun him racing for a top 5 finish with less than two laps left in regulation. He parked his car next to Harvick's on pit road after the race and attempted to get to the Richard Childress Racing driver.
"All of our competitors are licensed to compete," Darby said. "They're given permission in sorts to not only to be the athletes but to display the emotions of competition during, after, before or whatever. And that's all fine.
"Parents aren't really licensed or quite frankly have the permission to step in and get involved in this thing. Mr. Logano, he did what he could to restrain himself. I guess at the last he wound up interfering with one of our television broadcasters and that's not the right thing to do."
During the heated affair, according to Darby, Tom Logano pushed a television broadcaster. But Logano said that wasn't what happened.
"What happened with what Darby said, and what they talked to me about, was after Joey was done and he was walking away," Logano said Monday. "His business manager wasn't with him, so I just wanted to walk with Joey. I brushed past one of the newscasters. I didn't grab him. I didn't shove him. I just wanted to get to Joey. I didn't know if it was a radio guy or TV guy or what.
"And he said they didn't appreciate it. I didn't grab him or push him. They had it on video. It wasn't a big deal."
The elder Logano had his annual NASCAR credential pulled in October for a gesture made at Greg Biffle following his son's victory in the Nationwide race at California. It was more an inconvenience than punishment, because he was allowed to stand in line and get a paper credential for subsequent events.
Darby said no such action was deemed necessary this time.
"It was a short message," he said. "I think he understands."
Joe Gibbs Racing president J.D. Gibbs added his organization will not restrict Logano's father from any pit road access because of the incident.
"They just let him know he's got to be responsible," said Gibbs, who also was in the meeting with NASCAR. "They just wanted to make sure 'hey, keep it in check.' "
On Monday, Tom Logano said when the incident began, he initially was trying to clear the way for his son to confront Harvick.
"I pushed one of the Gibbs guys away to let Joey go handle his own problems," he said. "I wasn't going after Harvick."
Logano said he understands his role as a father -- and that he doesn't need to be in the infield as much as he has been throughout Joey's career. He also said he was proud of his son for standing up for himself with Harvick.
There was some confusion after the race about whether NASCAR had issues with Joey Logano and Harvick. Logano came to the NASCAR hauler with his father but was told he wasn't needed.
"We don't have any issue with Joey," Darby said. "We don't have any issue with Kevin Harvick. That's something Joey and Kevin will work out. We didn't see any necessary harm or foul."
Darby added that Logano parking next to Harvick's car on pit road did not endanger crew members for Harvick's team, as Harvick crew chief Gil Martin implied on Sunday following the incident.
But Logano is concerned about what appears to be an issue between him and Harvick, who spun him out in a Nationwide Series race earlier this year.
"I don't know what I ever did to [tick] him off, but he is apparently stupid," Logano said.
Harvick said it was just hard racing.
"I got into him there going into [Turn] 3 and he just races with not giving people any respect and not much room," Harvick said after finishing fourth. "So we just wound up getting together. It's unfortunate, but that's the way it goes."
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.