Miami BEACH, Fla. — Martin Truex Jr. indicated he has a free pass to rough up Joey Logano as the two drivers are among the four vying for the NASCAR Cup Series championship Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Logano indicated that it isn’t a “free pass,” per se.
Let the games begin. The two drivers, whose last-lap tussle three weeks ago at Martinsville Speedway raised the ire of Truex, will have to remember the past when anticipating each other’s moves Sunday. They both are somewhat underdogs to Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, who both have eight wins this year, as the top finisher among those four drivers Sunday earns the title.
Truex probably thinks he should have five wins and Logano just one, but Logano executed a bump-and-run on Truex for the victory at Martinsville that Truex felt was excessive.
At a media day Thursday to preview the championship, Truex said he will race drivers differently depending on who they are. And he has permission from Logano to execute a bump-and-run.
“I have a free pass,” Truex said. “He already told me I could. He told me he’s fair game. So here we go.”
Logano said that is different than a free pass to dump him.
“I said, ‘Hey, I expect to get raced the way I race people,'” Logano said. “I’m a hard racer. I expect to get raced hard. I said it before, we didn’t crash each other. I didn’t crash him.
“I moved him up enough to have a drag race [to the finish]. That’s what I explained to him.”
The Team Penske driver would have no problem racing in a similar fashion Sunday.
“[There’s] just so much on the line in these situations,” Logano said. “If you don’t make a move like that, you’re going to go back to your race team [and] I know if I worked on that car, I’d be mad.
“I’d say, ‘Why didn’t you at least try to win?’ I wasn’t going to crash him.”
Truex takes pride in racing with a cleaner code than that of other drivers. He has said his team has never told him to race more aggressively.
“I’m not approaching this race any differently because of [Martinsville] … but I still remember what happened,” Truex said. “And I’ll use that to my advantage this weekend.”
For Truex, he plans to celebrate at the end of the race, win or lose Sunday. It will be the last race for Furniture Row Racing, which will close at the end of the season. The Colorado-based team already has had an emotional week as the crew (Truex wasn’t there) took a team photo behind the hauler as it left for Florida.
Crew chief Cole Pearn said the scene was more emotional than he expected as the crew gathered to reminisce in the wee hours of Wednesday morning after the truck left. Truex seemed a little disappointed he couldn’t join them but certainly understands what they were feeling.
“You just get so focused in on doing your normal routine, but it finally all caught up to them,” said Truex, headed to Joe Gibbs Racing next year with at least some members of his current team. “It hit them at that moment when they all looked around and said, ‘That’s the last car we’re sending out of here to go to the racetrack.’
“I can certainly understand it. I’m sure Sunday night will be the same for all of us. I kind of look forward to it just to be able feel that and celebrate and let them know how special the time was and what they all mean to me.”