Crew chief Todd Gordon: Joey Logano’s lack of experience won’t hurt him at Homestead


Joey Logano has won the most races out of NASCAR’s Championship 4 this season with five, but compared to the three drivers he’ll be racing against for the Sprint Cup this Sunday at Homestead, he’s still somewhat lacking on experience.

Thanks to his early start, it feels like the 24-year-old Logano has been around longer than he really has been. But this is only Logano’s second Chase, and his first with a true shot at a title.

However, his crew chief, Todd Gordon believes that with everyone getting used to the new Chase format, such a potential drawback is neutralized. Furthermore, he thinks Logano has already proven this post-season that he’s capable of going wheel-to-wheel with veterans Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, and Ryan Newman.

“I think if you look at the performance that Joey is able to give on every restart that we see, if you look at what he’s able to do on the last run of every race, and the ability to maximize points and positions, I think we’ve had some races — if you look at our average finish through the Chase, it’s been exceptionally good,” Gordon said during a NASCAR teleconference this afternoon.

“A lot of that is given to Joey and what he does on late restarts. I think we’ve recovered from — he’s recovered great finishes out of average race cars a couple times here throughout the Chase.”

Over the last two races, Logano has overcome various degrees of adversity to keep his championship going.

Two weeks ago at Texas, Logano was running up front when lugnut problems on a late-race stop and a subsequent tire failure on-track knocked him as far as 26th place. But a rash of late cautions gave him chances to get back much of the lost ground and finish 12th.

Then, in last weekend’s Eliminator Round finale at Phoenix International Raceway, Logano was hit with a penalty for removing his gas can from the pits and fell a lap down – only to rally out of the hole and finish sixth, which was enough to earn him a spot in the Championship Race by nine points.

After those instances, Gordon’s faith in Logano is resolute.

“Yes, he’s young and he’s never been through this race, but I don’t think anybody has been through this race,” he pointed out. “There’s always a difference. Kevin was in the championship run last year, but he was 30 to 40 points behind. [Logano] was in an ‘All I’ve got to do is win.’ It’s a different thing because there’s four cars that are tied, all equal in points.

“It’s a different format and it’s one race to get it done. I think Joey has the mental maturity and his ability to focus in when he needs to be very successful in this format.”

That same faith also applies to the whole of the No. 22 Team Penske squad, whom Gordon also feels has performed admirably during less-than-ideal circumstances.

“I’m proud of the way that the guys, everybody here has responded to the adversity the last two weeks and identified what we can do differently to resolve those situations and move forward,” he said.

“And also trying to look at other things, what else can happen, the what-if factor. Guys have done an awesome job here, and Team Penske has done a fabulous job preparing us for that with all the support here at the shop.”

Kyle Larson wins third consecutive High Limit Sprint race at Eagle Raceway, Rico Abreu second again

Larson High Limit Eagle
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It took four attempts for Kyle Larson to win his first High Limit Sprint Car Series race in the series he co-owns with brother-in-law Brad Sweet, but once he found victory lane, he has been undefeated with his win at Eagle (Nebraska) Raceway. For the second week, Abreu led early only to fall prey to Larson.

The win was Larson’s third straight victory and the fifth consecutive top-five, giving him a perfect sweep of the season after finishing 10th in last year’s inaugural race at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana.

Larson started third behind Abreu and Brent Marks but was embroiled in a fierce battle with Anthony Macri for third during the first dozen laps. Larson slipped by Macri in traffic until a red flag waved for a flip by Lachlan McHugh.

Meanwhile at the front of the pack, Marks retook the lead from Abreu on Lap 18. Larson followed one lap later and then caution waved again. Tyler Courtney lost power and fell to 24th after starting eighth.

Marks scooted away on the restart but tragedy struck in Lap 26. Leading the race, Marks hit a pothole in Turn 1, bicycled and then flipped, handing the lead to Larson.

Abreu caught Larson again during the final laps and in a reprise of their battle at Tri-City Speedway, the two threw sliders at one another for several laps until Larson built some separation and ran away to the checkers.

“I didn’t feel like my pace in [Turns] 1 & 2 slowed down a ton,” Larson said from victory lane. “I missed it once there and then I saw his nose in 3 & 4. I didn’t know if he nailed the bottom that well behind me and I think he might have slid me in the next corner, so he was definitely on the top.

“I was nervous to move up there because my car was really pogoing up in the entry of 1. I got up just in time, made a few mistakes and he threw a couple more sliders at me but he was just a little too far back and I was able to squirt around him. Then I really had to commit to hitting my marks – back my effort down a bit to avoid mistakes.”

After leading early, Abreu fell back as far as sixth, but faith in his car kept hope alive.

“I just needed to do a few things a few laps before I did and fix some angles, then my car got a whole lot better,” Abreu said. “I’m thankful for this team; they do an amazing job. They don’t give up on me. I know my car is going to be there right at the end of these races, so it’s just the discipline of being patient.”

For Abreu, it was his third near-miss this season. He was leading at Lakeside in the 2023 opener until a tire went flat in the closing laps and he lost the lead to Larson late in the Tri-City Speedway race. Abreu has finished sixth or better in his last three High Limit races with each result being progressively better until his pair of runner-up results.

Third-place finisher Scelzi was the hard charger, advancing from 17th.

“I had a very specific plan; don’t go near [the hole in Turn 1],” Scelzi said. “It worked out. No one wanted to start on the top. I think I gained a couple of rows there on the choose cone and ran the middle, which seemed to be better than right around the bottom.”

Michael “Buddy” Kofoid in fourth and Macri rounded out the top five.

World of Outlaws star and former NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne was one of 41 entrants, but he was not among the 26 starters. He failed to advance to the Main after finishing eighth in the B Main and seventh in his heat.

Feature Results

A Feature (40 Laps): 1. 57-Kyle Larson[4]; 2. 24-Rico Abreu[1]; 3. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[17]; 4. 71-Michael Kofoid[5]; 5. 39M-Anthony Macri[3]; 6. 9-Chase Randall[9]; 7. 26-Zeb Wise[14]; 8. 1X-Jake Bubak[15]; 9. 8-Aaron Reutzel[10]; 10. 14D-Corey Day[18]; 11. 11-Cory Eliason[12]; 12. 5T-Ryan Timms[11]; 13. 88-Austin McCarl[13]; 14. 21H-Brady Bacon[22]; 15. 48-Danny Dietrich[16]; 16. 7S-Robbie Price[19]; 17. 21-Brian Brown[23]; 18. 22-Riley Goodno[26]; 19. 52-Blake Hahn[25]; 20. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[21]; 21. 3J-Dusty Zomer[6]; 22. 14-Cole Macedo[7]; 23. 19-Brent Marks[2]; 24. 7BC-Tyler Courtney[8]; 25. 25-Lachlan McHugh[20]; 26. 53-Jack Dover[24]

2023 High Limit Sprint Car Series

Race 1: Giovanni Scelzi wins at Lakeside Speedway
Race2: Anthony Macri wins at 34 Raceway
Race 3: Kyle Larson wins at Wayne County Speedway
Race 4: Kyle Larson wins at Tri-City Speedway