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Logano Left to Wonder about the Restart That Never Was

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@JoeyLogano isn’t saying he would have won at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, but he would have liked a shot at it. Or at least a chance to see what he could have made happen on one more restart.

Logano would have lined up third had the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 went back green. Instead, NASCAR declared the race official on Lap 219 because of rain and Logano was eliminated from the Chase for the Championship. Only a win would have earned him a spot in the Championship 4.

“Do whatever I’ve got to do and try to win the race. It’s hard to play the race with rain in the area,” Logano said about the restart he never got. “You don’t know what’s gonna happen, but you just hope there’s another shot. You hope that there’s a restart and if two of them slip up and you’re able to put it three-wide on the bottom, or do something like that, but just didn’t ever have the opportunity there at the end.

“We had plenty of opportunities to try and get ourselves to the front, we just weren’t as fast at the 4 (Kevin Harvick). We were a solid second place car, but (Dale Earnhardt) Junior timed it out really well when they pitted to that caution and it worked out really well for them.”

After winning six races, three in the Chase, Logano will not return to Homestead-Miami as one of the drivers eligible for the championship. Considered the fastest car in this year’s Chase, the No. 22 Shell / Pennzoil Ford might have advanced at Martinsville had it not been for Matt Kenseth’s linger frustration.

The two have been the story of the Chase after their contact at Kansas Speedway during the Contender Round. Logano had won the previous weekend at Charlotte and was already locked into the third round. But wanting to keep the pressure on his competition he and Kenseth ran each other hard for the race win, resulting in Logano turning Kenseth with five laps to go.

He then went on to win a week later at Talladega Superspeedway to make it three straight but again angered Kenseth for what he felt was coming across his nose entering pit road. The Team Penske driver wasn’t fazed as he kept focused on the bigger picture.

Martinsville, however, ended Logano’s Chase. Crashed from the lead after leading the most laps, Logano went to Texas Motor Speedway and blew a tire 10 laps into the event, putting him over 60 points behind the cutoff for Phoenix.

“You can’t help the weather,” Logano said of the rain-shortened event. “I guess it wasn’t in the cards tonight, but I’m still super proud of what this Pennzoil team has done all year.”

Heads held high Logano said the attention turns to winning the last remaining race of the season. Sunday, crew chief Todd Gordon had put his driver in position to do just that, but a lengthy cleanup following a caution on Lap 197 didn’t allow for the race to be restarted before the rain arrived.

Aside from wishing the track had been cleared quicker, Logano had nothing negative to say about how the events unfolded or the race’s premature end. And despite coming up short on capturing the season’s ultimate prize, he considers the year in which he won the Daytona 500 still something to be proud of.

“I consider this a great season,” Logano said. “We’ve got six wins and a whole bunch of top-fives. It’s a great season if you look at it from that angle. We just had a couple bad races at the wrong time and it is what it is.”

EMAIL KELLY AT kelly.crandall@popularspeed.com

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