Don't blame Logano for Hamlin's injury

March, 25, 2013

If you're blaming Joey Logano for Denny Hamlin's broken back, you need to think again.

Hamlin has an L1 compression fracture now because he hit a concrete wall head-on that didn't have the SAFER barrier in front of it.

It's absolutely inexcusable, after almost a decade of SAFER barrier use by NASCAR, that a car still can slam into a concrete wall that doesn't have the collapsible barrier in front of it.

But it happened to Hamlin on Sunday on the final lap with a vicious crash into an inside wall at Auto Club Speedway that didn't have the SAFER barrier in place.

When will all these speedways learn that any concrete wall, no matter where it is around the track, endangers the lives of drivers if the wall doesn't have the SAFER barrier in place?

Does someone have to die before this situation changes?

Frankly, all these tracks have been lucky it hasn't happened. Changes to the cars, along with head-and-neck restraints, have prevented serious injuries in many severe crashes, just as the SAFER barrier has.

But it's Russian roulette to have any exposed concrete wall, which likely caused Hamlin's injury Sunday.

No one can say for sure the SAFER barrier would have prevented Hamlin's back fracture. But the odds of him coming out of it without a back fracture would have improved dramatically had his car hit the collapsible wall.

Some fans are placing all the blame on Logano for what they see as an inappropriate payback move at the end of Sunday's race.

The two drivers were going all-out to win the race at the end. Had the situation between the two of them been more cordial, maybe the sheet-metal banging at the end wouldn't have happened. But maybe it would have since both drivers wanted to win.

Logano made a comment about Hamlin he shouldn't have made afterward: "He probably shouldn't have done what he did last week [wrecking Logano at Bristol], so that's what he gets," Logano said.

When Logano made the statement, he didn't know Hamlin was injured.

But it isn't like Logano went out and hunted down Hamlin to get even. They were side by side on the last lap, battling to take the checkered flag.

Hamlin may miss several races because of his injury, and it could cost him a spot in the Chase.

Hopefully, that won't happen. If it does, don't blame Logano. Blame the track for not having the SAFER barrier in front of the concrete wall.

Terry Blount

ESPN Staff Writer



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