Joey Logano started fifth and finished fourth in the No. 22 Duralast GT Ford Fusion in Sunday afternoon’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway. The finish was the third top-five for the No. 22 team in the first six races of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, but was undoubtedly the best example of championship determination to date. After working the No. 22 Duralast GT Ford to the second position by lap 70, the team was assessed a pit road penalty for crewmembers jumping over the wall too soon. The penalty dropped Logano to the 30th position where he would have to rally back towards the front. Fortunately, Logano found the handling of the No. 22 Ford to be exceptional most of the afternoon, including good long run speed. Unfortunately, the laps remaining in the first stage were not enough for Logano to gain the championship points as the team concluded the first 130 laps in the 15th position. Crew chief Todd Gordon utilized pit strategy to cycle Logano passed the majority of the front-runners at Lap 147 when he left the No. 22 on the track with only 20 laps on their tires. The second stage would feature all green flag racing where Logano maintained the track position gained on the previous yellow flag pit cycle. However, misfortune would again strike the team. At lap 231, Logano was forced to pit with a flat left rear tire; the green flag pit stop would drop the team two laps behind the race leaders. The team later diagnosed the flat was the result of a puncture in the center of the tire’s tread. At the end of the second stage, the Duralast GT Fusion was two laps down and scored in the 27th position. The team, led by Gordon, remained poised and utilized the wave-around at the stage break to earn one of their laps back. A quick debris caution brought the team back to pit road, putting Logano back out on fresh tires. When the caution flag was displayed again at lap 309, Logano earned the free pass and rejoined the lead lap. The team continued servicing the car throughout the race, making only small changes to keep up with changing track conditions, and repairing the minor damage resulting from Logano working his way through the field. Through fierce determination, Logano cracked the top-10 at Lap 362 where he remained until the caution flag at lap 391. On the final pit stop of the afternoon, several competitors opted for two tires, and Logano rejoined the race in the 13th position. Over the remaining 100 laps, he maneuvered the Duralast GT Ford back to the top-five, and eventually into the fourth position where the team would finish the grueling 500-lap event.

STP 500