Welcome to FTW’s NASCAR Feud of the Week, where we provide a detailed breakdown of the latest absurd, funny and sometimes legitimate controversies and issues within the racing world.
This week’s feud falls into the absurd category, and it’s not even kind of close.
It isn’t one of those situations there are two sides — because there usually are — or where your opinion is determined based on which driver you cheer for. It isn’t like Jimmie Johnson wrecking himself and Martin Truex Jr. feet away from the finish line. It isn’t even like Joey Logano nudging Truex out of the way for the win, as we saw two weeks ago.
No, this is is Aric Almirola being furious with Logano for… racing him? If that sounds ridiculous, it is, but let’s break down what happened in the Round of 8 of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.
When did this all start?
Before the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday ended up extending into overtime, there were multiple restarts in the final laps, including with 32 laps to go in the originally scheduled race length. Logano — who already locked himself into the Championship 4 race in a couple weeks at Homestead-Miami Speedway — was racing near Almirola, a championship hopeful.
Logano’s No. 22 Ford was on the outside of Almirola’s No. 10 Ford, and they were close to each other but it doesn’t look like they were banging the sides of their cars against each other. As Logano moved to pass Almirola, the 10 car got loose and slid up the track while Logano took off. Almirola dropped back and lost multiple track positions.
That’s it. That’s what happened.
Logano finished third behind winner Kevin Harvick — who’s now also guaranteed a place in the championship event — and Ryan Blaney. Almirola was eighth and enters the final elimination event before the championship race 57 points below the cutoff line and will advance only with a win Sunday.
So why is Aric Almirola so mad?
Basically, he thinks because Logano had already guaranteed his spot in the championship race, he shouldn’t race other people hard. For some reason, despite being surrounded by ultra-competitive drivers for 36 races of the year, he thought it was more appropriate for Logano — or perhaps anyone else — to give his competition a break on the track. OK, sure.
There was no contact, there wasn’t a purposefully caused wreck. There was racing — a ludicrous thing to expect during a NASCAR race, apparently.
What did Aric Almirola say after the race?
Almirola, who started Sunday’s race at the back of the field, criticized Logano for not giving him a break on that restart. He told NBC Sports:
“(We) worked diligently all day to get up to the front and finally got ourselves in position to at least have a shot with those guys, and (Logano) just went down in Turn 3 and put it right on my door and about wrecked us both. So I’m not sure, I’ll have to talk to him.
“But he just continues to make things harder on himself. If that is the way he wants to race me when he is already locked into Homestead and we are out here fighting for our lives, that is fine. When Homestead comes around if I am not in, he will know it.”
What did Joey Logano have to say?
Nothing. Wisely, neither Logano or anyone from his team elected to comment about the situation after the race.
Does anyone feel this criticism is warranted?
Not really. Aside from NASCAR promoting quotes from an angry Almirola, no one really thinks complaining about another driver racing during a race is justified. These guys are professional athletes, and they didn’t get to the level they’re at without being competitive at every turn — literally.
By Almirola’s logic, Kevin Harvick deserves criticism for racking up seven regular season wins when he should have just been satisfied with earning one and qualifying for the playoffs. Same with Kyle Busch and his six regular season victories.
Why did Chase Elliott need to win two of the three races in the previous Round of 12 in the playoffs when one win automatically advanced him to the next round? See how ridiculous this is…
Here’s what NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett had to say about Almirola’s complaint:
“I don’t need to hear any more of that. This is racing and the last I looked, every driver is out there doing everything they can. … So don’t complain about somebody getting on your door and racing you. It’s not up to him to help you try to achieve what you’re trying to do.”
NASCAR.com reported Tuesday that Almirola and Logano spoke Monday night and worked out their differences, so it sounds like even though Almirola seemingly promised revenge at some point, that might have just been his emotions talking.
“I think we both know where each of us stands and I feel good about it,” Almirola said. “I know a lot of people are confused at why I was upset when you look at the replay, but the reality is that as race car drivers, we both know the situation that we were in, and he knows kind of where my head was at and what I was thinking and I know where his head was at and what he was thinking, and we’ll move on. We’ll go from there.”
Well, that’s good because this might be NASCAR’s dumbest feud of the season so far.
Was Joey Logano justified in bumping Martin Truex Jr. to win at Martinsville?
Why Martin Truex Jr. rear-ended Jimmie Johnson after NASCAR’s roval race ended
Will Kyle Busch get revenge on Kevin Harvick in next NASCAR race?