From the drop of the green flag in Saturday’s (July 13) Quaker State 400, Joey Logano proved he had one of the best cars. But it wasn’t until late the No. 22 got track position it needed.
Battling inside the top five for much of the race, both Logano and Kyle Busch came down pit road for the final time on the same lap with under 45 laps to go. But while those two took just two tires, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer and others took four tires, meaning the Nos. 22 and 18 would be out front by a significant margin.
When the green flag stops cycled through, Logano chased down Busch for the race lead, in an intense, side-drafting war that saw the No. 22 get out front.
That was fun. 😬
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) July 14, 2019
With under 10 laps remaining, Logano was pulling away, until Bubba Wallace spun in turn two, setting up a late race restart.
“No shit,” Logano said of not wanting to see the late race caution. “You go through your notebook on how to have a good restart. I thought I had a decent one and then just got stopped on the left rear when Kyle [Busch] got into me. At that point, I got stopped when my momentum was gone, the [No.] 1 had a huge run and it’s like ‘Where am I going to go?’ I can’t block them all.
“I tried to stop the [No.] 18 on his left rear by side drafting and I saw the [No.] 1 coming, and I felt like if I got in front of him — we were so low at the time that if I block the [No.] 1 he’s just going to go to the middle and pass me. I felt like I couldn’t stop the [No.] 1. Just in a bad spot. Once I got stopped on my left rear on that restart, at that point, I was a sitting duck and they got by me on both sides.”
When the checkered flag flew Logano was sitting seventh. Admittedly so, he was “frustrated” with how the race ended for the No. 22 team.
Regardless of where he finished, the reigning Monster Energy Cup Series champion believes it was a solid race from start to finish, though not being able to capitalize on a third victory of 2019.
“It was a great race,” Logano said. “It was a lot of fun. I thought you had some strategy, you had a lot of cautions – probably the best Kentucky race we’ve ever had. If I was a race fan, I would say that was a cool finish. Maybe I’m a little too close to the fire to say that was a good finish right now.”
Because the No. 18 team finished five positions ahead of Logano and scored more stage points, the No. 22 team’s championship lead is down to 11 markers over Busch.
The series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway next weekend, a place Logano has won at in the past and finished ninth at last year.