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.