Joey Logano wants John Hunter Nemechek to man up and own Phoenix mistake

The two-time champion says the younger driver didn't lift

NASCAR: Cup Qualifying
Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Joey Logano has now crashed out of three of the first four NASCAR Cup Series races this season and he left Phoenix Raceway none too pleased with John Hunter Nemechek for his latest setback.  

Logano already was having a challenging race, having lost a lap and racing for the free pass, when he got turned on Lap 206 and the sideways Team Penske No. 22 collected Corey Lajoie, Derek Kraus, Zane Smith and Josh Berry.

“I think I just got hit from behind,” Logano said after being released from the infield care center. “It is a shame. We weren’t running well anyway but this doesn’t make it any better. We were just fighting for lucky dogs. You get back there and everyone is racing not real good and we got caught up in it.”

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In real time, Nemechek said over his team radio communication that he didn’t mean to do it, and that he felt Logano slowed more suddenly than he anticipated. Logano didn’t accept that narrative.

“Well, you have to lift to make the corners,” Logano said. “You can’t hold it wide open around Phoenix. Maybe he should take a look and realize he can’t do that. He drove straight into the back of me. He needs to be man enough to own up to that.”

After the race, Nemechek said he intended to do just that.

“I want to apologize to Joey,” Nemechek said. “I’m going to reach out to Joey. I’ll probably reach out to Paul Wolfe and Roger Penske. I guess just misjudged it. I hit the brake pedal pretty hard, and it didn’t really slow down and I got in the back of him. It’s my fault. I made a mistake and I’ve got to learn from it, and own it.”

The wreck collected Lajoie.

“I just saw the 22 get turned backwards in a hurry and I had nowhere to go,” he said.

The DNF actually snapped a 44-race streak in which Lajoie was running at the end of a race dating back to the 2022 season.

As for Logano, he has now crashed at Daytona, crashed out of Atlanta, finished ninth at Las Vegas and crashed out of Phoenix. The two-time champion is now 30th in the standings with a 25.8 average finish. This comes after Logano became the first defending Cup Series champion to be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs last fall.  

Matt Weaver is a Motorsports Insider for Sportsnaut. Follow him on Twitter.

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