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NASCAR Cup Martinsville

Despite repeated issues, Logano says "the trophies are right there"

Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski have each opened the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season with impressive performances but they differ in one important regard.

Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford pit stop
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Roger Penske, Owner Team Penske

Keselowski has two wins in the first six races while Logano has yet to visit Victory Lane.

It’s not that Logano hasn’t had cars capable of getting there, but he’s had to deal with a myriad of issues – some self-inflicted – which have curtailed his efforts to remain up front in races.

Fighting from the back

On Sunday at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Logano had to recover from two problems – his jackman went over the pit road wall too soon during a pit stop on Lap 73 of 500 and he was forced to pit under green on Lap 232 to replace a cut left-rear tire.

The first issue sent him to the rear of the field while the second left him two laps down. He managed to return to the lead lap late in the race and was to rally to a fourth-place finish.

Despite the issues, Logano’s finished sixth or higher in five of the season’s first six races and is fifth in the series standings.

“We haven’t had a smooth race this year,” Logano said. “Something’s happened every race – random things, every time it’s something different.  

“If we ever can have a normal race and not have to beat our car up going through the field, I feel like the trophies are right there if we can do that. Right now, random and crazy things are happening.”

Keselowski, who ended up winning the race, had to deal with his own issue on the Lap 73 pit stop. While Logano was sent to the rear for his pit crew jumping the gun, Keselowski was forced to join him after getting flagged for speeding on pit road.

“Go figure,” Logano said of both Penske cars having problems at the same time. “This race is long enough and there are enough cautions that you can make up for a lot of things. I’m grateful for our finish but bummed out we got no (stage) points throughout the event because we were recovering all day.”

Roger's take

Logano’s team owner, Roger Penske, said he probably doesn’t take Logano’s frustrations as hard as he does.

“When I spoke to him in (Victory Lane) after the race, he told me, ‘I just have to keep coming from the back.’ We’ve had speeding penalties and a guy over the wall too quick – these are self-inflicted,” Penske said.

“Look, he’s right up there. The car has speed and he has confidence and he’ll shake it off. This can turn at any time. Both guys have the same equipment, great crew chiefs and they’re both world-class drivers.”

Asked if thought Logano was a driver that would allow such issues to distract him, Penske said, “No. He’s telling you how he feels but if you listen to him on the radio after some of these problems, he’s as cool as a cucumber.

“He really shakes it off and goes. He’s probably as mature as any driver I’ve had. It’s just circumstances. He’ll be fine.”

 

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