theracereview

Joey Logano qualified fourth for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, the Quicken Loans 500, at Phoenix International Raceway. Entering the race as the series point leader, Logano was ready to race for a spot in the final round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Early in the event, Logano showed that the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Fusion was strong as he raced from fourth to first by lap 26, passing Denny Hamlin for the race lead.

Logano held the top spot through the first round of pit stops. On the day, Logano led twice for a total of 17 laps.

The No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford continued to be a strong presence in the top five for the opening segments of the race, never running lower than third place.

On lap 125, during the third round of pit stops, Logano was assessed a penalty when the gas can became lodged in the No. 22 car’s fuel filler as Logano took off from the pit stall. While serving the penalty, crew chief Todd Gordon called Logano back in to change left-side tires and top off with fuel as the Shell-Pennzoil Ford restarted from the 28th position.

During a long green-flag run, Logano fell a lap down to the race leaders. He missed earning the free pass on a couple of following cautions, but Logano eventually worked his way back on to the lead lap, just before the 200-lap mark. Once on the lead lap, Logano began working his way back toward the front of the field.

Logano narrowly avoided another big problem on lap 212 when the No. 18 car of Kyle Busch spun at the front of the field. Logano was able to dive low to miss the accident, but the Shell-Pennzoil Ford suffered left-side fender damage as it collided with another car while Logano took evasive action.

The team made several pit stops to repair the damage and Logano again found himself at the tail of the lead-lap cars. Once again, Logano began a charge back to the front of the field.

Restarting in the 20th position, the 24-year-old driver was able to work his way into the top 10 and eventually into the sixth position as the race wound down.

As the checkered flags flew, Logano notched a sixth-place result, good enough to allow him to qualify for the championship round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Logano will now be one of four drivers competing for the Sprint Cup series title next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Sunday’s result marked Logano’s 22nd top-10 finish this season, best among all drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

theracereview

THAT WAS ANOTHER HARD-FOUGHT FINISH. HOW WERE YOU ABLE TO BATTLE BACK TO GET A TOP-10 FINISH?

“That was what our team has done all year long. Even in adversity, we were able to keep our cool, not get all worked up and just do what we needed to do. By doing that, we were able to race our way back toward the front of the field. (Crew chief) Todd (Gordon) made some good calls and gave me tires when everyone else stayed out, once we got back on the lead lap and we were able to race our way back to the front. It’s unfortunate that we had the pit issues for the second week in a row, but again, we didn’t let it get us down. We just kept working at it. We got a lap down. We knew we were fast enough if we got a caution and we got one. It’s just what we do. It is why this team is strong and why this team has put itself in a position for run for the Championship. We just work through issues, we don’t get rattled and we do what we need to do.”

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO GET A CHANCE TO RUN FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP AT HOMESTEAD NEXT WEEKEND?

“It’s what you work all year for. It’s our Super Bowl. It’s the best guys in the series racing for the ultimate prize. There are 43 guys that strive to do this at the beginning of the year in Daytona and now there are four of us. This is something all of us dream about. All four guys haven’t won a Championship and one of us are going to do it next week. And I think we have a great shot at it. The Shell-Pennzoil team has been one of the best all year long. We just need to do what we have been doing all year long. We need to treat the weekend like it’s any other weekend. We can’t change our focus or the way we do things. We just need to keep doing what has worked for us all year. And that is what we are going to do. To be in the position we are in – there are 39 guys that want to be in that same position, so we need to take advantage of it. I think we have as good of a shot as anyone.”