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Logano on Elliott-Harvick rift and mind battles: ‘Games are played every day’

Joey Logano has run afoul of both Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick during the course of his NASCAR career — his long-ago clash with Harvick dating back to Pocono Raceway in 2010 and a flare-up with Elliott unfolding just last year at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Given his experience, Logano could be considered a leading authority on the recent squabble between Elliott and Harvick, even if the Team Penske driver insists he’s remaining neutral in terms of picking a side.

“As far as the whole Chase and Harvick thing, I am not a horse in this race,” Logano said in a Wednesday media availability. “So I can be out of that one. I can see both sides of the story, though. If there’s one thing I think we all can probably agree on watching it back is that I’d be mad on either side of it.”

The lingering Elliott-Harvick animosity still hangs over the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, which enters its next phase with Monday’s YellaWood 500 (1 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Talladega Superspeedway. Logano is a three-time winner there, and the Team Penske organization has won three of the last four Talladega races.

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Elliott and Harvick each have one win there, too, but their on-track confrontation and pit-road standoff at the Round of 16 finale remains a sticking point without a tidy resolution. If anything, the remarks that each driver shared in a pre-race media session last week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway only stoked the flames, with Harvick comparing his discussion with Elliott to trying to reason with his 9-year-old son, Keelan.

Logano said he’s seen the potential repercussions from letting unsettled scores fester, especially in the playoffs. His confrontation with Matt Kenseth in the 2015 postseason is testament to those implications, and he was on the receiving end of Kenseth’s retaliation at a key moment at Martinsville Speedway that year. Asked for his thoughts if he were in Elliott’s position, Logano shot straight.

“I’d be nervous. I’d be maybe a little nervous about the situation, you know, depending on who goes on to the next round or not,” Logano said. “It could really affect how things go. I feel like I’ve learned a lot of lessons in this sport. Some have cost me a lot. That might be one that really cost me a lot. So, you know, they get smarter every year, but you know I think we all handle things differently after going through things in the past.

“I was surprised, I’ll tell you that much, I was surprised hearing the comments. I thought they were humorous, though — pretty entertaining for us.”

Neither of the two antagonists seemed so amused one week after their Bristol brooding, and if there’s an advantage when it comes to playing head games, the experience edge goes to Harvick. Logano says he’s seen it first-hand.

“Games are played every day, I believe so,” Logano said. “I believe when you’re out there racing for a win, it’s a battle from every standpoint, whether it’s on track or off track, I believe sometimes it’s a battle. And that ratchets up. Kevin has been known to be that guy at times. I think how many times he’s made little comments to me, you know, and that seems to ratchet up as the intensity picks up. I feel like he may think it’s a tool in his box that he can use, and you know, it may be successful for him. It’s probably why he does it, maybe he finds it works. Maybe he finds it works for him as much as hurting somebody else. I can’t answer those questions.”