Denny Hamlin apologizes for bump

Updated: March 26, 2013, 11:24 AM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

FONTANA, Calif. -- Denny Hamlin apologized Friday for making two mistakes involving former Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Joey Logano last weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The first mistake was bumping Logano too hard on Lap 349 in retaliation for the way the Penske Racing driver raced him earlier. The bump sent Logano into a spin when he was battling Jeff Gordon for the lead and ruined any chance he had of contending for the victory.

Hamlin
Hamlin

The second was for attacking Logano personally after a postrace shoving match between the crews that began when Logano approached Hamlin at his car.

"He said he was coming for me," Hamlin said after the incident. "I usually don't see him, so it's not a factor."

On the first mistake, Hamlin said he was trying to send Logano a message with a tap after Logano pinched down on him too hard earlier.

"I felt bad, and really if you could watch my in-car camera, you could see how frustrated I was to see he had damage to his car," Hamlin said before the first practice at Auto Club Speedway. "I banged the steering wheel because I was, 'Man, I didn't mean to do that.'"

Hamlin said that gave the impression he was trying to "bully" Logano, which he was not.

"I wish the cameras would see what happened before the contact you saw on TV," he said. "That frustrates me the most. I'm not trying to bully Joey around because of performance."

Then came what Hamlin called "the big mistake."

"At the end of the race I shouldn't have degraded him as a driver," he said. "It's not my job to say who's good or bad in our sport. That part probably should have been left out."

Hamlin and Logano haven't communicated since a battle of words Sunday night on Twitter. Logano indicated the issue that began at the Daytona 500 with Hamlin criticizing his driving wasn't over.

"I feel like I've told him everything I can tell him," Logano told ESPN.com earlier in the week. "I've got nothing to say."

Hamlin considers the issue over because they haven't talked.

"He has my phone number, and I have his," he said. "I assume when Bristol is over with it's over with unless spoken to otherwise. I voiced to him he had my number. If he had a problem with anything that went on, then we could talk about it. I'm assuming by no contact it's over at this point."

Logano said he is still upset over what happened.

"Until anyone says anything to me personally, no, it's not over," said Logano.

Hamlin isn't concerned that Logano will retaliate Sunday.

"I don't believe so," Hamlin said. "We both have the same goal in mind. The first thing is you need to win races. The second thing is you need to make the Chase. Messing with each other on the racetrack is a huge distraction for that. You cannot do your job a hundred percent the way you're supposed to if you're constantly worried about somebody else.

"My guess is going into this weekend and beyond he's going to be worried about his program and I'm going to be worried about mine."

Logano said winning races, not wrecking Hamlin, is his top priority.

"You remember things like that, obviously," he said of what happened at Bristol. "You don't go out there aiming for somebody. Obviously, I'm out there to win races and run for a championship.

"But at the same time, you don't forget what happened. You don't forget three years down the road what happened. It's always there. That's the case for everybody I would assume."

Logano said he and Hamlin weren't buddies away from the track during his four years in the No. 20 Cup car at JGR. Hamlin said nothing went on in their relationship that would lead to what has happened this season.

"I felt like [it was] an OK relationship off the racetrack as teammates," Hamlin said. "On the racetrack, we didn't go to him for as much information as they probably came to us. I think at times during our tenure as teammates he felt like I probably raced him too hard at times. There was times when I felt he raced me too hard as teammates.

"That went back and forth a little bit behind the scenes, but definitely not the displeasure for each other like we've seen the first few races this year."

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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