Logano: Passing Gilliland “not that big a deal at all”

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Joey Logano had the opportunity to speak Thursday, at NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup media advance at Chicago’s Navy Pier, for the first time since a potential controversy involving his team emerged Wednesday.

News broke then regarding radio chatter involving his No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford for Penske Racing and team communications from the No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford, driven by David Gilliland.

The radio chatter was solely issued by Front Row, not Penske, and Logano hadn’t even heard anything about the situation until he landed at a NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup pre-advance in New Hampshire.

“I landed there and my phone started blowing up,” Logano said Thursday. “I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ It was all new stuff to me. There was no transcript on our radio.”

Logano said communications between spotters happens all the time, and he didn’t think much of the situation.

“That stuff happens week-in and week-out with spotters,” Logano said. “If we didn’t pass the 38 car, we were still 10th in points, so it had no change in the outcome. I don’t look at it as that big a deal at all, to be honest.”

Asked if he was concerned that any penalties could be coming, Logano said he wasn’t and was instead focused on trying to win this weekend. He won the NASCAR Nationwide Series race there early this year.

Furthermore, he dismissed suggestions that he and the No. 22 team weren’t worthy of Logano’s first career Chase spot on merit, forgetting what happened Saturday night when he and the team missed the setup.

“We have one win, eight top fives and 13 or 14 top-10s. If you look at those numbers, that’s every bit of top three or four this year,” he said. “I don’t feel bad about being in the Chase at all. We deserve to be in if you look at those numbers. Then the bonus points you get from being 10th. We’re in the Chase, we’re here to race, and we deserve it.”

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images
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Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.