By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
CONCORD, N.C. – Joey Logano and his No. 22 Pennzoil Ford Fusion started the Coca-Cola 600 on the outside pole. The race got off to a fast start as Martin Truex Jr. powered away from Logano. Logano stayed in the second position through the first caution on lap 25.
Logano remained in the top five, bouncing back and forth from the fourth position up to the second position. Logano took the lead for one lap during a round of green flag pit stops. Unfortunately for Logano, his front tire changer leaped over the wall too soon, resulting in a pass through penalty. Logano was not able to remain on the lead lap after serving his penalty, and dropped from running in the top five down to the 21st position.
Logano was able to race his way back onto the lead lap, passing race leader Truex, which turned out to be a rarity for the night. Logano slowly climbed his way back up through the field, breaking into the top 15 after lap 300, nearly 80 laps after his pit road penalty.
Logano’s climb continued to be slow and agonizing. A caution with about 50 laps to go allowed him to reset. Logano finally broke into the top 10 after the final restart. Logano was then only able to move up to the ninth position, where he would finish the night.
After the race, Logano told the media, “We got a pit road penalty. You’re trying to make pit stops so fast and you’re gonna push everything to the edge. I guess we jumped off the wall a little bit too soon. I haven’t seen it, but unfortunately, that kind of made us make a green flag pit stop, which is really hard to overcome. Overall, we were able to get our lap back by racing up there, which was kind of cool. We didn’t have to take a lucky dog or any of that. We actually raced back to the lead lap, but we lost the balance a little bit on the last run and I couldn’t make much time once we got going.”
When Logano was asked about fighting back for a good finish, he commented, “We did a good job recovering without a caution because we were able to pass the leader back and be able to get back on the lead lap and then we finally got a caution, but it was so late in the race and you can only pick a couple off on the restart. We kind of settled in there and it was hard to pass tonight, so I had a lot better car than ninth. I had something that could have finished in the top three or four, maybe second. We didn’t have anything for the 78. Martin Truex was on fire tonight and really all weekend. They had it figured out.”
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