Logano nearly perfect in rain-delayed Michigan
By Rick Minter/ Andrews McMeel Syndication
Joey Logano and his No. 22 crew from Team Penske had one of those days at Michigan International Speedway on Monday that racers and race teams dream of.
They started from the pole and led 163 of the 203 laps of the rain-delayed FireKeepers Casino 400. His spotter, T.J. Majors, was spot-on in his guidance to Logano in a race that, due to the current higher downforce/lower horsepower handling package, bore a significant resemblance to those at Daytona and Talladega, where drivers generally have to work together to make passes.
As the laps wound down and the green flag continued to fly, crew chiefs were forced to make strategy calls for their final pit stops. Some took four tires, some opted for fuel only, while others like Logano’s crew chief, Todd Gordon, took two tires and fuel.
That decision led to Logano retaking the lead once the pit stops cycled through, while others languished in mid-pack. Among those was Kevin Harvick, who had come back from being a lap down and was running second to Logano when the pit stops started. The time lost on his four-tire stop dropped him out of contention for the win and he finished seventh.
Logano saved his best move for last. A spin by Erik Jones set up an overtime run to the checkered flag. Logano led the pack to the green flag, with Martin Truex Jr. alongside and the second row occupied by the Busch brothers, Kyle and Kurt.
While many expected Logano to be vulnerable to others working together behind him, he blasted out to an early lead and cruised the final two circuits to take his second win of the season and the 23rd of his career. Kurt Busch finished second ahead of Truex, Daniel Suarez and Kyle Busch.
“A day like that, you don’t get those days all the time,” Logano said. “The best car, the best team. We executed perfectly all the way through. … We’ve been so close this year getting into Victory Lane multiple times and coming up short, mainly because of execution.
“[Monday] everything was cleaned up perfectly and we did a great job. This is what we get. Hopefully, we can start stacking up some more.”
Kurt Busch said it would have taken a big break to overtake Logano.
“Logano’s car was tough,” he said. “I really wanted it to go green at the end with Truex. I was going to push him straight through the 22 (Logano). My best shot at it.”
But Busch said he enjoyed the late-race battle.
“I had a blast,” he said. “Tightest I ever put my belts at the end of a race. … It gives us reason to smile and be happy.”
Truex said he thought Logano started before he reached the restart box on the final restart.
“The 22 went like a whole car length before the restart zone,” he said. “I don’t know how you get away with that. Aside from that, great day.”
There were only two drivers who did not finish Monday’s race. One was Kyle Weatherman, making his first start of the season and the 10th of his career. The other, ironically, was the race’s defending winner, Clint Bowyer.
Bowyer wrecked on Lap 130 after some three-wide racing with the No. 20 of Erik Jones and the No. 3 of Austin Dillon.
“The 20 got loose, and I tried to basically make an evasive move to get under him,” Bowyer explained in a TV interview. “The 3 was there and got loose under him, and then I got into him and ran out of real estate. It was a pretty frustrating day.”
PHOTO CAPTION:Kevin Harvick in the No. 4 Ford was battling eventual winner Joey Logano at Michigan on Monday before a four-tire pit stop dropped him out of the top five. Logan Riely/Getty Images for NASCAR