If you're wondering how quickly it's going to take Tony Stewart to find Joey Logano in Sunday's STP Gas Booster 500 at Martinsville, the answer is it may take a little while.
Jimmie Johnson won the pole for Sunday's race – not a surprise considering he's an absolute master on the half-mile paper clip – but when the green flag drops all eyes will immediately dart to Logano's 22 and Stewart's 14. Remember, when last we left the track Stewart was promising to "bust [Logano's] ass" after the Auto Club 400 in Southern California. Logano will start fourth Sunday, 22 spots ahead of Stewart.
Stewart actually doesn't have the luxury to focus on grudges right now. Five races into the season and he sits 22nd in the standings, which means he has to be more concerned about points than settling a score with Logano.
As for that, Stewart spent most of Friday's media session explaining that blocking on a restart at Auto Club Speedway, which is what Logano did to rankle his feathers, is different than blocking at Talladega, something Stewart did last season that caused a massive wreck in which Dale Earnhardt Jr. suffered a concussion.
"There is a huge difference between the two," he said without offering exactly what that difference is. When pressed later, he said, "It's not so much that you are trying to block as much as you are trying to make that guy that you are trying to get in front of push you. … You have to have somebody pushing you. So if there is a line coming you want that faster line to pick you up and push you. The last half of a lap at Talladega is different than a restart with 15 to go at California."
Yeah, blocking – even if Stewart doesn't want to call it that – is way more dangerous at Talladega.
But according to Stewart, you have to dive in front of on-rushing cars at Talladega because you don't want to get passed by a faster line, which is sort of like diving in front of on-rushing cars on a restart because you don't to get passed by a … faster line.
In any event, Stewart said he has not talked to Logano since the incident. As for Logano, he's not backing down for how he raced Stewart in California.
"Every driver is going to have their own opinion," Logano said Friday. "Late in the race, I think you're going to see that a lot. You're going to see it here. A lot of people are going to do it and as a driver you have to be ready for that. But early in the race it isn't acceptable for a lot of people and I don't blame them [for being angry]. That shouldn't be acceptable early in the race, but late in the race every spot means so much."
“No, I'm not going to change the way I drive," Logano continued. "I don't feel like I do anything that’s really disrespectful to other drivers out there. I race really hard. I'm fine with being known as a hard racer. That's OK with me."
Martinsville being such a tight track, at some point Logano and Stewart will find each other. And when they do, we'll see if Stewart keeps his promise.
"Everyone knows who you're racing against and what happened before in the past," Logano said. "That's always in your mind. It's not any different this week than it would be any other week."
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