While Brad Keselowski’s late mechanical failure and crash ruined his Eliminator Round opener at Martinsville Speedway, Team Penske is still in early position to advance to the Sprint Cup Championship Race thanks to a fifth-place run from Keselowski’s teammate, Joey Logano.
As Logano explained in post-race, his No. 22 Ford was a handful throughout the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500. But an excellent final restart following a four-tire stop under caution helped him secure an important result.
That, plus Dale Earnhardt Jr. keeping Logano’s Chase rival, Jeff Gordon, from winning today, made Logano feel relatively fine about how things played out.
“It’s good the 88 [Earnhardt] won and not the 24 [Gordon],” he said. “We just weren’t fast enough with our Shell/Pennzoil Ford. We didn’t have the lateral, forward drive that I needed off the corner and every time we tried to fix that, the center didn’t turn. We just couldn’t get the handle on it all day.”
“We took four there [under the final caution] and restarted 13th but got to fifth. I was just a little bit too tight there that last run to get a couple more spots. Overall, it was another Top-5, which is great. We’ve been Top-Fiving the heck out of this Chase, which is what we need to do.
“I just really want to win these things so you take a little bit of pressure off, but it was still a good points day.”
Logano is now third on the Chase Grid at three points over the fifth-place Championship cutoff going into next Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, where he won over Gordon in green-white-checkered this past spring.
When asked if it was a tough decision for him and crew chief Todd Gordon to pit with less than 10 laps remaining, Logano noted what happened to Tony Stewart and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
They, along with David Ragan, opted to stay out under that last caution for the top three track positions. But the trio couldn’t hold back those with fresh rubber when the race restarted with five laps left.
“The 14 [Stewart] stayed out on old tires and finished fourth,” Logano said. “The second-place car that stayed out was the 17 [Stenhouse] and he ended up way back there (15th place), so I think we did the right thing there.”