Right up until the final turn of the 400-mile race, victory in the Auto Club 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California had seemed to be down to a straight shootout between Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano.
But anyone with any knowledge of NASCAR current events knew that this was unlikely to go smoothly: Hamlin and Logano have been in an escalating spiral of hostility since the beginning of the season, when Hamlin took exception to what he saw as Logano blocking him at Daytona. After sniping at each other on Twitter, it had culminated last week with Hamlin wrecking Logano, and Logano yelling at Hamlin in pit road saying that he was "coming for" Hamlin.
So that last run to the flag between Hamlin and Logano was never going to be all that simple after all: and when Logano sent Hamlin into the inside retaining wall in a huge wince-inducing crash it seemed only to be expected. Kyle Busch passed them both and claimed the win at the flag.
"He probably shouldn't have done what he did last week, so that's what he gets," said Logano after the wreck. "I guess we're even now. He'll think twice before he does something next time."
However Logano - who was Hamlin's team mate at Joe Gibbs Racing until the end of 2012, when he switched to Penske Racing - insisted that the wreck had not been intentional. "It was just racing for the lead," he said.
"I was trying to get to the bottom, I overdrove the bottom and slid up," he elaborated. "“I wanted to win that race. I feel like I had the car to win the race," he said, adding: "Denny Hamlin was not going to win that race."
Logano was speaking before he knew that Hamlin had apparently collapsed after extracting himself from his wrecked car, which had impacted the inside wall with such force that it was lifted clear off the ground. It happened at a part of the track not covered by a SAFER barrier for impact reduction.
Hamlin was subsequently put on a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance to be taken to the in-field care centre, from where the decision was taken to air-lift him to a local hospital for further treatment. NASCAR officials were quick to state that the decision to use a helicopter did not indicate any severity to Hamlin's condition, merely that local traffic around the speedway following the end of the race meant that the roads were gridlocked.
Hamlin's crew chief Darian Grubb went with the driver to the hospital and kept the team and family informed. Hamlin's long-time parter Jordan Fish subsequently tweeted, "Thank [you] everyone for your messages concerning Denny. Darian is keeping us posted. He's alert [and] awake, main concern is his back."