Stewart, Logano look to move past fracas
Tony Stewart and Joey Logano, at least publicly on Friday, were not looking back on their post-race dustup two weeks ago at Fontana, Calif.
They were the early center of attention Friday at Martinsville Speedway because it was the first time the Cup Series has been in action since Stewart took a physical swipe at Logano after the Fontana incident, upset that Logano blocked him on a late restart. Blocking is something that has raised Stewart’s hackles throughout his career.
Stewart, who fields cars for himself, Ryan Newman and Danica Patrick, was thinking more about getting ready for qualifying while meeting with the press after practice.
“That was two weeks ago,” Stewart said. “I’m at Martinsville now and worried about how to get my three cars to run fast.”
Logano was also concentrating on the task at hand.
“I feel like Tony and I, it’s pretty much over,” Logano said. “We haven’t talked to each other but we’ve had a weekend to relax and cool off, so I feel like it’s over. I feel like we’re moving on.”
Logano also refused to react negatively to Stewart’s comment at Fontana that Logano was a rich kid that never had work on his cars. Those comments came about the same time that he said that Denny Hamlin “got what he deserved” after they wrecked on the final lap. Hamlin broke a vertebra when he hit a wall in the crash and is sidelined for at least five races.
Logano spoke before he found out Hamlin was hurt.
“You can say the same thing about my comments,” Logano said. “It was heat of the moment.”
Stewart said he was on vacation and inaccessible if Logano had wanted to talk to him last week.
“I was in Georgia and I didn’t even have satellite TV or a cell phone,” Stewart said. “And phone calls don’t mean that much to me anymore. If a guy is calling to say he is sorry for something, that’s one thing, but I’m not going to argue with somebody on the phone if their opinion is different from mine.”
He had no idea if his temper fit would have an effect on Logano.
“We’ll see how he reacts,” Stewart said.
Logano indicated he will not change his driving strategy and would likely block if needed to protect position in the closing laps.
Mark Martin might have one of the biggest disadvantages of any driver this weekend.
He is subbing for injured Denny Hamlin in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 in what is now a one-shot deal as Martin goes back into the Michael Waltrip Racing No. 55 next week at Texas while Brian Vickers goes into the No. 11.
Vickers is in the No. 55 here because it was one of the races that Martin didn’t want to do.
And, Martinsville is not one of Martin’s favorite tracks even though he is a former winner here. But, he takes over for a driver who has been a repeat Martinsville winner in recent years.
“I have some strengths,” the over-50 Martin said. “It’s not youth and exuberance, even though I might have a little of that somewhere. It is experience and the things that I have done and the people I have worked with, not only in the Cup Series but in the Nationwide Series. I worked with a lot of different people. I will give it my best and I will be engaged 100 percent for this weekend and will try to do a good job (for them).”
Jimmie Johnson, who was Martin’s teammate when Martin drove for Hendrick Motorsports, isn’t selling Martin short.
“It’s not his favorite track but he had a couple of runs in the No. 5 (at Hendrick) when he climbed out of it with a smile on his face and felt he could win,” Johnson said. “That car will be fast and I expect Mark to be in the thick of things.”
Brian Vickers said he was overseas and didn’t know all of the details of how he wound up as the substitute for Denny Hamlin beginning at Texas next week after Joe Gibbs Racing initially announced that Martin would sub as long as Hamlin was out.
The change was made after MWR objected. Vickers and Martin split time in MWR’s No. 55. Vickers is in that car this weekend, which made Martin available here. Martin goes back in the No. 55 next week at Texas.
“I didn’t know about any stuff or the drama that everyone over here knew about,” Vickers said. “I told (JGR president) J.D. Gibbs and (MWR co-owner) Rob Kauffman before I left “Listen, I’m happy however you to sort this out and I feel honored to drive either car. I’m happy to drive either car so left me know.’” I woke up to the news and said ‘OK, great.’ It was a no-lose situation for me.”
Vickers said he was informed by a text from both teams.
“They basically called and said, “Hey, here’s what we worked out.’ I was like, ‘OK. Can’t wait. Let me know where to be.’”
Jeb Burton, son of former driver Ward Burton and nephew of current driver Jeff Burton, won the pole for today’s 250-lap NASCAR Truck race, which will get the green flag today at 1:30 p.m. (Speed Channel).
Burton, from nearby South Boston, Va., and the last driver to make a run, zipped to a truck track-record lap of 96.868 as he bumped fellow rookie Darrell Wallace Jr. to the second spot.
“I was crying like a baby when I got out of the car,” Burton said. “It means a lot to me and my family. And my sponsor is from South Boston also. So this is huge.”
Burton got emotional when told that he set a track record.
“I get chocked up thinking about it,” Burton said. “I’ve got a awesome race team.”
Burton said he wasn’t surprised that he was emotional.
“I knew if I won the pole I would be,” Burton said. “I eat, drink and sleep racing. If I’m not running well, I don’t sleep. I’m just passionate about it.”
Timothy Peters, who lives just across the state line from Danville, Va., and won here four years ago, was third with Johnny Sauter fourth. Ty Dillon was sixth. Ryan Blaney of High Point was 14th.