Team Penske had speed Sunday but it really needed a caution

Penske teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski were fast enough to contend for the win Sunday at Phoenix Raceway but what they really needed at the end was to slow down.

For either driver to have a chance to catch leader Chase Elliott late in the race, they were going to need a caution to bunch the field.

Unfortunately for both, once the final stage went green, it stayed that way until the end and Elliott ended up cruising to a more than 2.7-second win over Keselowski.

Elliott claimed his sixth win of the season and his first series title while Keselowski and Logano finished second and third, respectively, in the series standings.

Several times during the race, Keselowski was hobbled by slow pit stops but he did manage to pass Logano late in the race and move into the runner-up position.

Read Also:

“Yeah, I would have liked to have had one of those late race yellows like we saw in the Truck and Xfinity races. I thought we were pretty good there, just didn’t have the track position to make it show,” Keselowski said.

“I thought we had a shot at the end of the second stage and just couldn’t keep it up in (a) spot to keep it where we could have a lead. Really proud of the speed we had. Just a solid day and just wish we had one more spot.”

Asked if he had the opportunity to seek an explanation for his team’s pit issues, Keselowski said, “I haven’t had a chance to look at that. You know, obviously at the end of Stage 2 I was right where I wanted to be, in the lead, and we lost a spot, which is not fun.

“But it’s a team effort, and just was tough to fight back through. We got up to second there at the end, and I feel like we were pretty equal. (Elliott) and I would have loved to have had a chance to race it out, but that’s not the way it played out.”

Logano started on the pole when Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet failed pre-race inspection twice and ended up leading 117 of the first 119 laps of the race.

Late in the race, Logano was the first title contender to make his final green-flag pit stop and when everyone had cycled through on Lap 262 of 312, Logano emerged with the lead.

Elliott quickly showed his strength, however. He went to the inside of Logano off Turn 3, gave him a nudge and reclaimed the lead on Lap 270 and never looked back.

“We had good track position. Our pit crew was on it just like they’ve been through the whole playoffs,” Logano said. “They’re a pressure team. They love the pressure and they truly rise to the occasion.

“They did that the whole race. They did it even the last stop under green. Was able to get ourselves out in front of (Elliott) by a pretty good distance. And like I said, (Elliott) just kind of fired off a lot faster and kept going.”

Asked if he felt he let a second championship slip away, Logano said, “Obviously, when you don’t win it, it hurts. It definitely stings.

“I told the guys before the race started, I said in these races when you get to the Championship 4, you can’t lose. You either win or you become stronger. Unfortunately, we got stronger today.”

shares
comments

Related video

Hamlin's title hopes come up short again: "That was all it had"
Previous article

Hamlin's title hopes come up short again: "That was all it had"

Next article

Johnson's 'heart is full' after ending NASCAR career at Phoenix

Johnson's 'heart is full' after ending NASCAR career at Phoenix
Load comments
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Prime

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, but his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines...

NASCAR Cup
Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR Cup
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR Cup
Oct 5, 2021
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Prime

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organization - which underlines his enduring value

NASCAR Cup
Aug 31, 2021
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021