Despite coming up just short of his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, Joey Logano avoided a total disaster in Sunday’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
On a restart with 10 laps remaining, Logano restarted in third, directly behind fellow Championship 4 contender Carl Edwards. Edwards went low to block Logano, but instead, a wild wreck ensued.
Logano was able to escape the incident with only minor right-front fender damage, but it was a different story for Edwards, as his title hopes were dashed with the vicious crash.
“It’s hard racing,” said a disappointed Logano after the race. “I get exactly what he did, and I assume he gets what I was trying to do. We were racing for a championship and there’s 10 laps to go … that’s the race at that point. I had a good run and got underneath him.”
“I don’t blame him for running me down there, and I don’t think he blames me for putting my nose down there,” he added. “It’s just racing. It stinks because it hurt both of us a lot. We’ll just have to suck it up and move on.”
And according to Logano, both drivers had to make their respective moves.
“If he (Edwards) lets me in there, I’m probably going to pass him, and it was going to cost him,” he said.
“We were good on the short run all day and fell off on the long run. That was my shot. If I don’t get him right there, I don’t win the race. I didn’t have an option. I had to do something to win this thing. That was my only play.”
Following a red-flag period that lasted roughly 33 minutes, Logano’s crew chief Todd Gordon made the call for him to hit pit road to put on four tires and fix the damage.
The call by Gordon turned out to be brilliant, as Logano moved from eighth to third before another caution came out following a spin and wreck by Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
“Todd made a great call,” Logano said, who was able to still crack a smile despite the result. “I would have never thought to come down pit road and put tires, pump it up and tape this thing off and to go for it.”
Logano had another great restart with two laps remaining, but Jimmie Johnson proved to be too much to handle and took off with the lead to earn his record-tying seventh Sprint Cup championship.
“That last restart, I was hoping to get Jimmie there and trying to get either to the inside or outside of him,” Logano said. “I just timed it a little bit wrong to get underneath him. I just didn’t have enough time to get under him. We lost some time there and unfortunately we finish second (in the championship standings).”
In 2014 at Homestead, Logano was a part of the first Championship 4 group, but a costly error by the jackman during a late-race pit stop took Logano out of the fight.
But on Sunday evening in South Florida, Logano’s No. 22 team were flawless, executing nearly-perfect pit stops throughout the race.
“I hate being that close to a championship and not getting it,” said Logano. “The team did a great job all day. We had a good race car and we put ourselves in position to win. No one made any mistakes or anything like that on our pit crew.”
Despite coming up short of his first Sprint Cup title, the sting of defeat for Logano will transform into motivation for another championship run next season.
“We gave ourselves a shot to win the championship and I guess that’s all you can ask for. The championship means so much and everyone forgets about second place. That is what stinks. But overall I am proud of this team. This will be motivation for next year. This hurts.”