Logano overcomes early back luck with a Top-10 finish

Joey Logano qualified his No. 20 Home Depot Toyota 14h for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, the AAA 400, at Dover International Speedway.

Joey Logano, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Joey Logano, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

When the race began, Logano fell into a rhythm and crew chief Jason Ratcliff told him to run his race and pick of cars one by one. Right away, the car proved better than the 14th-place qualifying effort and by lap 60, Logano was knocking on the door of the top-10.

It took little time for bad luck to strike Logano though. Right after completing his first pit stop under green flag conditions on lap 66, the caution came out the very next lap, trapping Logano and several other of the fastest cars on the track two laps down and leaving just five cars on the lead lap. Once the lead lap cars pitted, Logano took the wave around and found himself just one lap down.

When the race restarted, Logano was 17th and had lost a ton of track position. However, the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota proved once again just how strong it was and in just 60 laps, Logano was back to the same 11th position he was before falling two laps down.

The rest of the afternoon, Logano continued to race with the lap down cars, all vying for the free pass position. Logano broke into the top-10 on lap 186 but still found himself racing several other cars trying to get back on the lead lap in a race that saw very few caution flags.

Logano ran as high as ninth and along with fellow lap down drivers Mark Martin and Kasey Kahne, the trio found themselves faster than several cars still on the lead lap.

On lap 315, the bad luck struck again as Logano was in free pass position on a restart. However, the line of cars that Logano was in didn’t go on the green, giving the No. 56 of Martin Truex Jr. the slight advantage. A caution just one lap later saw Logano once again just miss out on finally getting back on the lead lap.

Late in the race, it was evident that fuel mileage would come into play. Ratcliff radioed to Logano to start saving fuel while trying to maintain the free pass spot. Despite being over 12 laps short on gas, the team elected to try and make it to the end. As the leaders began to peel off pit road to get fuel, Logano found himself up to the sixth position.

With just two laps to go, Logano radioed in that the car was starting to sputter. Coming to the white flag, the fuel cell in the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota ran dry and Logano had to coast around the one-mile track to make it to the end. While he lost a few positions to those that had pitted, Logano was still able to come home with a 10th-place finish, his third-straight top-10 run.

Logano’s Post-Race Thoughts: “That seemed like the longest 400 laps of my life. We had a really strong Home Depot Toyota and we were never really able to show what we had. It seemed like the whole race, rather than racing for spots, we were just racing for the free pass position.

Then we finally found ourselves in that spot and just got shuffled a little bit on the restart and lost the free pass by less than a car length. That is really frustrating when you have been racing for over 200 laps to try and get back on the lead lap and you just miss it.

I guess all things considered and what we went through all day long, to come out of here with another top-10 finish is pretty good.

“The most frustrating part about the whole day was that our car was fast. Me and Mark (Martin) and Kasey (Kahne) were racing for the free pass spot and we were passing guys that were running fifth, sixth, seventh and on back. So all of us had really fast cars.

We just all got caught by that first caution. There is nothing you can do about that. No sense in getting frustrated by it. It trapped a lot of really good cars a lap down. It wasn’t like it was just us.

I just would have liked to have seen what I would have been able to do had we not gotten a lap down. I think we had a top-five car for sure. But we came out of here with a top-10 and that is three in a row for us.

That is just what we want to be doing. We keep doing that and we will be running for wins before the year is out.”

Source: Joe Gibbs Racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR-CUP
Article type Race reports
Tags dover, logano, monster mile, nascar-cup, toyota