Joey Logano thought he knew the battle that was on his hands in the closing laps Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway.
And then the caution came out.
Shortly following his bold door-banging pass on Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski for the race lead with 30 laps to go, Kyle Larson crashed with William Byron to bring out the race’s 11th yellow.
The halt of action put Logano in the tough spot as race leader. Unfortunately, the No. 22 team’s call to pit placed the Ford well in traffic behind two-tire calls and those who stayed out.
“The last thing you want is a caution,” Logano said. “But, 15 to go at Bristol and you’re the leader. You know everyone is going to make their decision on you. It’s just part of the game.”
After leading 146 laps on the day, Logano managed to jump to third behind the Busch brothers at the line. Though a strong day, a result outside Victory Lane is a failure with a car that quick, said Logano.
“It’s just really hard to pass,” he said. “So, by the time I got to third, these cars were so far ahead of me. I was not going to get to them.
“It stinks when you have the fastest car are you don’t win. But, it’s a team sport, it takes every piece to make it work. We had the car part right but we missed it on other ends.”
Logano felt a third Bristol win was in order for himself and the No. 22 Ford team after his gutsy pass on Keselowski.
“A typical Bristol battle right there. It was a fight all the way to the end,” he said. “I thought when we got by the No. 2, [I said] ‘If I can just hold him off, that is the pass for the win.’
“I was pretty confident we were going to do that for 15 laps or so. Then the caution came out… what do you do? Do you pit? Do you stay out? You know a few are going to stay out.
“But you want to win at Bristol so bad. Bristol is the coolest track. You see the start-finish line and you think you’re going to get it. Things happened quick here.”