FORT WORTH, Texas—Denny Hamlin doesn’t believe Joey Logano is smart enough to get his goat.
The two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup drivers have been feuding on and off since 2013. After the First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway last Sunday, it was on again after Hamlin widened his line on the front stretch and pinched Logano's Ford into the wall.
All it took was Logano putting a hand on Hamlin for the driver of the No. 11 Fed Ex Toyota to lose his composure.
“I’m not going to let him touch me,” Hamlin said. “First, the first thing, as a man you can’t just let that stuff happen. That’s the first thing. That doesn’t affect me.
“We are talking about it right now, but within 30 minutes when I’m going in there inside the car to work, it stops. That’s my full concentration.”
Still, Hamlin maintains a mental scorecard when on the race track. In his view, not all competitors are created equal.
“I take into account who is beside me at all times,” Hamlin said. “I was not going to give one inch. I misjudged. The on-track stuff was definitely my fault. There was no intention to run into him or run him into the wall or anything like that. Because I put myself at a pretty big risk thereof cutting tires as well, but I was just trying to use all the space that I could.
“Certainly, if it was like a teammate or someone else beside me, or really anyone, yeah, I probably don’t gas it up quite as soon and try to take all of that space. All that stuff plays a factor for sure.”
Hamlin intends to put Martinsville behind him. With two races to determine the drivers in the Championship 4, the driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota cannot afford to be distracted by other drivers particularly when Hamlin isn’t locked into the final round.
“We go into every race track to win,” Hamlin added. “This weekend is no different. We don’t self-label ourselves as a favorite. I don’t think we are. We’re not locked into Homestead. We still have a lot of work to do. By no means is this thing given.”
Hamlin is currently second in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup standings. He trails Martin Truex Jr. by 20 points. The Truex is already locked in after last week’s Martinsville win.
Although Hamlin is having a career season—and his best average finish (9.2) in 14 years of racing—only a win at Texas Motor Speedway or ISM Raceway will automatically guarantee his transfer among the title contenders at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
One thing that won’t distract Hamlin at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend is his left shoulder. Despite chronic pain due to a labral tear, Hamlin received a cortisone shot prior to his trip to the Lone Star State. He’ll have surgery to repair his labrum during the off-season.
“I really don’t know how it happened to be honest with you, but it’s something that has been nagging really for years,” Hamlin said. “I’ve had shoulder issues. It just got to the point where it was really bad and got it scanned and figured out what it was.
“It hadn’t really affected me in the car at all. That part has really been fine…It’s uncomfortable while sleeping. I can’t sleep on that side, but it really hasn’t limited me to be honest.”