Stage One: 11th
Stage Two: 27th
Joey Logano and the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil team battled their way to a hard-fought, 12th-place finish Sunday night at Darlington Raceway in the NASCAR Playoffs opener. After starting from the outside of row three, Logano fought handling issues in the entry and exit of the corners on the opening run before bringing his Ford Mustang to pit road for a scheduled green flag stop on lap 32 for four tires, fuel, and adjustments. Following another green flag stop on lap 66, Logano made contact with the outside wall in turn four which resulted in a loose-handling condition throughout the run to the end of the stage, compounded by contact with the No. 23 who got loose underneath him on the final lap of Stage 1. Logano was credited with an 11th-place finish in the stage, but the No. 22 team had to make an extended stop on pit road during the stage break to check the right front toe link for damage. After restarting 23rd to begin Stage 2, the handling issues continued to persist resulting in Logano going a lap down on lap 173. The caution flag flew shortly after on lap 178, making Logano the beneficiary of the free pass to rejoin the lead lap cars as the No. 22 team diagnosed the toe link issues under caution with a pair of trips to pit road under yellow. Logano was scored 27th at the end of Stage 2, but crew chief Paul Wolfe’s ongoing adjustments began to take shape in the final stage as Logano drove his way up to 18th by the time the caution flag flew on lap 309 while he was on pit road for scheduled service. A pair of cautions on laps 318 and 330 allowed Wolfe to bring Logano to pit road prior to the final restart of the night with 30 laps to go and Logano made the most of the opportunity, making up nine spots in the first seven laps of the run before breaking into the top-10 on lap 345. With the late charge through the field, Logano was able to come away with a 12th-place finish despite the early setbacks.
Logano enters the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs 11th in the points standings to begin the Round of 16, one point above the cutline.
“I got ran in the wall a third time and bent the toe link. The guys did a great job changing that and staying pretty much on the lead lap and then started to grind our way back through the field. I probably could have done a little better. I probably gave up, overall, 15 points on the day. I think we’re only a few points to the good right now, so those 15 would be nice.”
WHAT’S NEXT: The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Kansas Speedway for the second race in the Round of 16 on Sunday, September 10th. Coverage begins at 3:00 pm E.T. on USA, MRN Radio and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.