Jimmy Spencer hands out a trio of crying towels after the Coca-Cola 600.
Jimmy Spencer sounds off on Juan Montoya and Ryan Newman's scuffle in Richmond, and well anything else related to Ryan Newman.
Joey Logano, in particular, has feuded with fellow finalists RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota With Denny Hamlin , Joey Logano and Ryan Newman all occupying the same small space in the Phoenix International Raceway media center last weekend, the vibe was largely upbeat, and with good reason. All three had joined race winner Kevin Harvick among the final four drivers eligible for their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. But as the details came to light about Newman's forced fender on Kyle Larson to keep his postseason hopes alive in the final lap, it broached the delicate topic of retaliation ahead of the most important race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. Newman claimed his memory of Larson's over-aggressive moves while racing him in the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Eldora Speedway in 2013 might not have equaled an outright payback, but that it certainly factored into his last-ditch decision to make their battle for position a full-contact contest. That's when the trio broke into an impromptu, cheery rendition of "Who wronged who?" and whether the list of past transgressions would carry over to Sunday's season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 (3 p.m. ET, ESPN). That's when Logano learned that Hamlin thought he still owed him one, and that Newman hadn't let a run-in with the youngest title contender slip his mind. Logano quizzically asked Hamlin, "I thought we were even after that?" before smiling and putting his arms on the backs of both would-be rivals flanking him, saying, "my friends," in hopes that the hard feelings from those previous dust-ups had passed. Hamlin, for one, didn't think the list of demerits would carry over, especially under the spotlight of the championship race. "Yeah, I think you know who shows you respect through many races," Hamlin said. "A guy cuts you a break here and there, you keep that in your mind, and when he's behind you knocking on your back bumper, then you can let the person go. It changes. When you have conversations, though, when you have bad blood between people, when you have conversations, you hash it out, things don't linger on as much. "Next week, we're not going to be out there trying to settle scores between the four of us. It's going to be what can we do to make our car faster than the rest of these three guys, and let's do it the right way." In past seasons, Logano has run afoul of each of the three other drivers he'll be vying against for the title. In June 2010, he made an on-track incident and pit-road confrontation at Pocono with Harvick personal when he said that his wife, DeLana, "wears the fire suit in the family." Two months later, Logano and Newman had a brief war of words and needed to be separated by NASCAR officials after a crash at Michigan. Logano and Hamlin also had issues in spring 2013, colliding in consecutive weeks at Bristol and Fontana, sparking nasty Twitter exchanges and an eventual back injury for Hamlin that forced him to the sidelines for the better part of five races. With the bygones behind them last weekend, the three remained in good spirits -- even as they discussed the unwritten ledger in each driver's memory bank about how one driver races another. "There is no statute of limitations on anything. A driver never forgets," Newman said, adding that past offenses can become magnified as the intensity rises in a given race. " Jimmy Spencer coined the phrase, but really, a driver never does forget. I don't think me doing what I did, whether it was Kyle Larson or (Marcos) Ambrose or (Greg) Biffle or whoever was right there around me, I would have been the same thing. That's just my rationale to justify it in my head." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
NASCAR.com discusses the hot topics of the week RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota 1. The Eliminator Round consists of three very distinct tracks with the shortest on the schedule (Martinsville), a 1.5-miler (Texas) and a relatively flat 1-mile oval in Phoenix . Do any of the three stand out as more likely to adversely impact the Chase drivers? Alan Cavanna: They'll all have their challenges, but I think the biggest may be the first one. You can find trouble in Martinsville on the track and in the pits. One small thing can put you in a big hole right away. Zack Albert: Two potential schools of thought here. In terms of track, I think Martinsville is so difficult to figure out that it's very particular with who runs well there. On the other hand, Phoenix will be so much of a pressure-cooker with the final four drivers trying to lock into the Homestead championship finale that it could be an anything-goes type of race. Kenny Bruce: I want to say that Martinsville, with its slower speeds, isn't as much of a risk for those guys. Typically damage there is minimal, with teams being able to fix most problems and still be in the hunt. Then I remember the run-in between Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch earlier this year, with Keselowski eventually finishing 38th. So it definitely can happen. Cavanna: My mind goes right back to Clint Bowyer 's dive-bomb a few years ago at Martinsville that took out the 24 and 48. We won't see those moves at other tracks. But at Martinsville drivers will try. And who won that day? Current Chase surprise Ryan Newman . Bruce: After being at Talladega and witnessing the added pressure of it being a cutoff race, I have to agree with you Zack. The pressure will be there in all three, but at Phoenix it could be incredible. Albert: The spring race at Phoenix wasn't particularly nutso, but pressure works in mysterious ways. Cavanna: I agree about the Phoenix factor. At the very least we'll have five drivers competing for one at-large spot, possibly more. Bruce: If you think about it, all three tracks have had their share of memorable moments. The Bowyer incident, as you mention, Alan, at Martinsville; Gordon and Jeff Burton at Texas and Gordon and Bowyer at Phoenix . Hey, what is it with Gordon and Bowyer? Albert: Doesn't the 15 still owe the 24 one? Bruce: Possibly, Zack. If Martinsville was truly the site of paybacks, we could see a record number of cautions. Fortunately, I think some folks have too much at stake to get in the middle of a meltdown. Cavanna: I hope Gordon isn't a San Francisco Giants fan. A new rivalry may have started with Bowyer's Royals. 2. Team owner Roger Penske said after Talladega that he thinks other drivers are jealous of Brad Keselowski because of his driver's success this season. So, are others jealous of Bad Brad? Cavanna: I don't think you'd ever hear a driver say they're jealous of BK. I think some might be annoyed with him. And deep down, some of that has to be rooted in jealously. Albert: I think there's an element of every driver wanting to be the top dog. I think there may be some jealousy of the team he's with, but I don't know if it reaches a more personal level. Cavanna: At some point, I think it does Zack. In the hierarchy of the garage, Brad K. stepped over a lot of people who seemed to be next up to be crowned champion. Carl Edwards , Kevin Harvick , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch are all still searching for that first title. Bruce: Either they were laying it on thick earlier this week, or the other Chase drivers respect and admire what Keselowski has been able to accomplish since coming into Sprint Cup. Maybe they aren't fans of the way he carries himself, or the way he races in some instances, but they all know how difficult it is to be successful in this sport. Even Matt Kenseth said he admired how Brad came up through the ranks and what he's done. As you said, Alan, I think "annoyed" is a better description of how others feel about him at times. Albert: True, admirable. And the success without a perceived paying of dues can ruffle feathers. But actual respect only goes so far through all of Keselowski's outspoken nature in his comments through the years and the on-track antics in the Charlotte cool-down lap. Cavanna: I get the feeling some hoped BK would be an annoying fly they could swat away. But that doesn't appear to be happening. Bruce: Take his personality out of the equation and you have a driver that has won six times this year, won five poles and is considered one of the favorites for this year's title. Stout stuff. But as Zack noted, it's the "other" items that perhaps have some people questioning his position in the sport. Albert: Keselowski said in his 2012 championship speech in Las Vegas, "As a champion, I want to be your leader, and I want to help you make it happen." Are we there yet? Bruce: Well, maybe not just yet, Zack, but we could be getting there. Keep the cameras rolling, just in case. Cavanna: I don't think so Zack, and part of it may be other drivers' personal feelings toward him. It's like a reality TV show competition; you have to play both the professional and social game to win. 3. We mentioned Martinsville earlier. What is the likelihood that we will see payback in some form or fashion this week when the series heads up the interstate for this weekend's race? Cavanna: Payback just doesn’t seem worth it if you’re a Chase driver. Let's say Hamlin takes a cheap shot at Keselowski during the race. Then what? It certainly wouldn’t be over. Keselowski would have nothing to lose by coming back a getting Hamlin the week after. It'd be lose-lose for both of them. Albert: If we're going to see any, it's most likely going to be at Martinsville. Still, let's remember back to the spring when Keselowski leaned on Kurt Busch – it ultimately didn't matter since Kurt went on to win the race. So sometimes purposeful retaliation doesn't have all that much effect beyond the principle of the thing. Bruce: Payback comes in all forms and fashions, Alan. As Kevin Harvick noted earlier this week, payback isn't always about wrecking someone. At a track such as Martinsville, you can make it extremely difficult for another guy to get around you. You can be a pain on pit road. It doesn't even have to be in the actual race - you can annoy someone during practice if that's your goal. Albert: Or you can sneak into the infield concession stand and spike their hot dogs. Bruce: I know NASCAR cautions drivers each week during the Chase to "let the race play out" and not get involved in paybacks or things of that nature, but there's an awful lot that goes on out on the track that doesn't always come to light. Is that a P3 penalty, Zack? Or a guarantee that your car will be the random after the race? Albert: Doctoring hot dogs certainly falls under the heading of "actions detrimental to stock-car racing." At least a P3, season-ending probation and cutting off the supply of Goody's to the pit box. Cavanna: Excellent point, Kenny. We've seen Hamlin and Harvick have issues at Bristol. And I can remember a few drivers making it tough on Logano in the pits in the past. I forgot about those little things. Bruce: A driver never forgets, Alan. Just as Jimmy Spencer . Cavanna: Still, if you’re a driver with unsettled business, I'd be working the phones and text messages before Sunday. I think we saw some of that happen with Logano and Danica Patrick . Bruce: Which may or may not be settled, depending on whom you ask. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
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