NASCAR Fans Should Be Cheering Joey Logano, Not Booing Him

Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports
Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports /

Hero or villain? Which one these categories does Joey Logano fit into when it comes to NASCAR fans?

Hero or villain, that is the question.

Those are usually the two words that fans use when describing a particular driver in any of NASCAR’s three top Series. Unfortunately for some NASCAR drivers, they are despised by fans no matter what they do on or off the track and they are often even blamed by fans when something goes wrong on the track. A prime example of this is the ongoing rivalry between Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth.

The feud was reignited Sunday at Talladega Super Speedway, when Kenseth was bumped out of line by Joey Logano during the closing laps of the race and was taken out moments later in a multi-car accident. Kenseth’s car then slid down to the apron, got airborne and hit the inside retaining wall of the track. The hit was pretty vicious, especially since Kenseth’s car hit the wall upside down and at a high speed.

Kenseth was later examined and released from the infield car center, but stopped outside to have a word with Joey Logano. When asked about the exchange later in the broadcast, Kenseth was very open with the NASCAR on Fox on-air team.

"The first thing that happened is the 22 ran us off the race track. I thought we were done with that, but maybe we aren’t."

Logano was then asked about Kenseth being upset with him and responded by saying that “he can get in line with the rest of them.” While that does honestly sound like a very arrogant answer to the question, especially given Logano’s aggressive nature on the track, it seems like Logano is also tired of being labeled a villain by his fellow drivers and NASCAR fans.

Whether fans want to admit it or not, they actually already have a pretty biased opinion of Joey Logano. That fact was made crystal clear after fans gave Kenseth a standing ovation for taking out Joey Logano at Martinsville last fall. While Kenseth did take Logano out in retaliation for a run-in the two drivers had earlier that year at Kansas, Kenseth basically took things too far and decided to end Logano’s championship hopes for no reason.

Sure, Kenseth was just exacting revenge for being robbed out of a spot in the next round of the Chase, but that doesn’t mean Kenseth had the right to take out Logano and ruin his championship hopes as well. In fact, the circumstances in which the two situations took place were entirely different and essentially should have painted Kenseth as the villain, not Logano.

Fast-forwarding to Sunday’s race at Talladega, Logano seemed to once again receive criticism from NASCAR fans for his incident with Kenseth, but did he really deserve it? While NASCAR fans around the word might argue that he does, especially due to his arrogant nature and aggressive driving style, Kenseth seemed to be more in the wrong then Logano.

For example, the incident between Kenseth and Logano occurred with only eight laps to go in the race. This means that both drivers were most likely fighting aggressively for every spot on the track and would have happily moved each other out of the to move up a spot or two. Unfortunately for Kenseth, Logano actually did move him out of the way and out of contention for the win.

Although fans usually just chalk something like that up to being a product of hard racing, these same fans don’t seem to accept that same answer when it comes out of the mouth of Joey Logano. In fact, Logano could probably pull off a Dale Earnhardt style move to win a race, which he has done in the past, but he would still be despised and criticized by NASCAR fans.

With that being said, why isn’t more of the blame for Sunday’s exchange being placed on Kenseth. He’s the one who instigated the argument between the two drivers, he’s also the one who later choose to run his mouth about Logano after the exchange. Finally, isn’t Kenseth the one without a spot in the top-16 in points right now after multiple bad races? If anything, this makes Kenseth the villain, not Logano.

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Now, that doesn’t mean fans can’t root for their favorite drivers and boo their least favorites, but they should at least consider all the facts and the situation at hand before making a decision on which way to respond.  Not only that, fans shouldn’t allow their biases of one driver to lead them to believe that the specific driver deserves whatever happens to them.

In all honesty, Logano has been hated by fans for too long and he doesn’t deserve it. Logano is dominant, aggressive and the perfect embodiment of what a future superstar in the sport looks like. Kenseth on the other hand, is now the 16-year Sprint Cup veteran with something to prove in a sport that is slowly passing him by. Time for fans to take notice and at least acknowledge the true good guy here!