Logano keeps up bid for Chase berth with runner-up finish

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Joey Logano had the car. He just didn’t have enough time.

But even though he was ultimately unable to reel in Kyle Busch in Sunday’s Advocare 500, “Sliced Bread” continued a timely hot streak that’s put him in position to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Sunday’s second-place finish marked Logano’s sixth consecutive Top-10 result. Before Atlanta, he had strung together finishes of eighth at Indianapolis, back-to-back sevenths at Pocono and Watkins Glen, a critical win at Michigan, and fifth at Bristol.

And with his Atlanta runner-up, Logano also moved up two spots to eighth in the Sprint Cup standings going into the final regular season race at Richmond this coming Saturday. He’s now 16 points up on 11th-place Jeff Gordon.

But while he was happy about his Chase outlook improving, Logano also felt he had an opportunity for a second 2013 win slip away from him in the final laps.

“I just needed five more laps for me to have a shot at it,” he said. “It’s just so frustrating when you’ve got the winning car and you don’t win.”

It could’ve been worse, however. A vibration on his car forced him to pit at Lap 102, which knocked him off-sequence with most of the leaders for a time.

But he was eventually able to get back on the normal strategy, and once he did, Logano kept toward the front even though he consistently lost track position on pit road throughout the night.

Indeed, with 36 laps remaining, Logano held the lead under caution when he entered the pits. But he came out third behind Busch and Ryan Newman.

Then came a late outbreak of cautions that set up multiple restarts, putting Logano at a further disadvantage.

He had rolled off third for a restart with 28 laps remaining, but was shuffled back to sixth by the time Jeff Burton and Austin Dillon got together in Turn 4 moments later to bring out another yellow.

These short spurts didn’t help Logano, who had a better car in longer stints. He showed as much in the final run under green; with six laps to go, he got past Kurt Busch for third, and three laps later, he dusted Martin Truex, Jr. for his eventual runner-up position.

With a few more laps, Logano would’ve likely been dueling Busch for the win. But in terms of the big picture, Sunday was still a great night for him.

“Second sucks, but we can’t be too mad about it,” Logano said, perfectly summing things up.

F1 2017 driver review: Max Verstappen

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Max Verstappen

Team: Red Bull Racing
Car No.: 33
Races: 20
Wins: 2
Podiums (excluding wins): 2
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 1
Points: 168
Laps Led: 133
Championship Position: 6th

Max Verstappen rise as a once-in-a-generation talent continued through the 2017 Formula 1 season, even if reliability issues meant we were made to wait for his best form to arrive.

Verstappen stole the show in a wet-dry Chinese Grand Prix by charging from 16th to seventh in the opening lap before ultimately finishing third for Red Bull, yet he would not grace the podium again until the Malaysian Grand Prix at the start of October.

A combination of power unit problems and on-track clashes saw Verstappen retire from seven of the 12 races in the intermittent period, with incidents in Spain and Austria being avoidable.

Perhaps most embarrassing of all was his stoppage due to a power unit failure in front of a grandstand swathed in orange at the Belgian Grand Prix, a race tens of thousands of Dutch fans had attended to cheer Verstappen on.

But when Verstappen got things right, it was – as he frequently quoted – simply, simply lovely. There was plenty left in the tank, as proven by his sheer domination of the races in Malaysia and Mexico as he took the second and third wins of his career.

Perhaps even more impressive was Verstappen’s victory over Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo in the qualifying head-to-head battle this year, an area the Australian has traditionally been strong in. Verstappen outqualifed his teammate 13-7 – it wasn’t even close…

All in all, Verstappen once again proved that on his day, he is one of the finest talents to grace F1 in recent years. With the right car underneath him next year, a title fight is certainly possible and will be the target – but there is always room for improvement.

And that is the scary part: Verstappen is only going to get better and better.

Season High: Dominating in Malaysia after an early pass on Lewis Hamilton.

Season Low: Crashing out on Lap 1 in Austria.