Joey Logano was the only Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver entered in the 2019 Camping World 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. Driving the No. 12 Team Penske Ford, he won the pole and positioned himself to pull his best Kyle Busch impression, a Cup driver dropping down to dominate in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
Ultimately, he came up just short. Logano led three times for 20 laps and raced inside the top 10 for the majority of Saturday’s race (June 29). But he came up one position shy of winning, slotting in second behind Cole Custer.
“Not quick enough,” Logano said of his bid to score a Xfinity triumph. “Custer and the whole Stewart-Haas Racing team just beat us. They were faster. After practice, I was able to look at Cole’s times and it was obvious he was the fastest car. We just had to hope that we made good adjustments to keep up. And we did get closer, but Cole did a great job running up against the wall. I was really impressed how he did it without really making any mistakes.
“Overall, I’m proud of this race team. They were all good pit stops. We got good experience and we’ll try to win one tomorrow.”
Logano found himself a victim to one of Xfinity’s trio of drivers competing hard for the series championship: Custer, Christopher Bell and Tyler Reddick. The 2018 Cup Series champion offered high praise for the group that’s combined to win 11 of 15 races in the division this year.
“The future is pretty bright with those front three cars,” he said of their talent. “They’re pretty good.”
Of the trio, Custer was obviously best on Saturday as he won the Camping World 300. Custer and Logano combined to lead 171 of 200 laps, causing the Cup driver to happily expand on the upward potential he saw racing beside him.
“[Cole’s] a good up-and-coming talent, he proved that today,” Logano said. “He ran a smart race. That’s hard to do when you’re young. He executed the restarts perfectly. He had the fastest car and he made the most of that. To me at least, when you’re following drivers, you can see that stuff.”
They were compliments Custer was happy to hear.
“Joey’s a series champion,” he said after being informed of Logano’s praise. “It was fun racing with him today. I think we had the better car. That was a huge part of it but at least I didn’t make any mistakes.
“It’s funny racing against those Cup guys cause they set the bar higher. It’s good now the way they [NASCAR] have it, I think. We put on better racing when we’re by ourselves. [But] you still have to have that benchmark for when the Cup guys come in so you know where you’re really at.”
The Camping World 300 was Logano’s first Xfinity Series start of the season. Custer certainly proved he and his Stewart-Haas Racing team are performing at a top level when he held off Logano on the final restart of the race with 21 laps to go.
As for Bell, he crossed the finish line in third place. However, a post-race inspection failure for his No. 20 Toyota negated his finishing position, relegating him to last place. Reddick finished ninth after feeling a possible flat tire as the laps wound down in the Camping World 300. Although he and Logano didn’t race against each other much at Chicagoland Speedway, Frontstretch still caught up with Reddick after the race to discuss Logano’s comments.
“Joey’s a hard racer,” Reddick explained. “He’s raced very, very hard coming up through his career. He’s the kind of guy that just pushed it every single lap. I appreciate a racer like that who never backs down.
“He’s the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, so I mean, the guy is an absolute wheelman. So it’s really cool to hear that from him. Somebody who at one time was the best in this sport and he’s still doing really well, obviously winning races and winning championships. He’s a really good race car driver. It’s really cool to hear compliments like that from the guys who one day you’ll hopefully be competing with every week.”
Reddick is the reigning NASCAR Xfinity Series champion, so he has proven to be quite the wheelman himself. At age 23, he will continue to learn in his NASCAR career and is happy to do so with Cup guys like Logano in the field.
Following the Camping World 300, Reddick leads the Xfinity point standings and he has won three races this season. Despite the last-place finish, Bell is third in points with four wins. Custer’s victory at Chicagoland tied him with Bell for the most Xfinity wins this season at four apiece.