By David Morgan, Associate Editor
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Joey Logano has always had an aggressive style of racing on the superspeedways and heading into Thursday night’s Bluegreen Vacations Duel 150 at Daytona, he made it known that this year would be no different, even with the hesitancy that has become commonplace as the Next Gen car rolls out in the Cup Series.
Now that aggressive style of racing has put him and his No. 22 Team Penske team behind the eight-ball with the Daytona 500 less than 72 hours away.
“I don’t see myself racing any different in the Duel than I will in the 500,” Logano said ahead of the Duels. “I am planning to go race. I think as soon as you get scared of crashing and those type of things you are never going to win. So, I am going to go race and if we crash, so be it, we will figure it out.
“I feel like going out there to race to win and try to get those points. There are still points out there to try to get. It is one step at a time. The Duels are typically a little more tame and it is usually not that crazy. But there have been crashes in them before and I think with the new car there could — like we said with the round bumper it could cause more crashes.
“At the same time you may have some drivers and teams that are telling them to chill out because we don’t have a whole bunch of inventory. I don’t really know exactly how the Duels are going to look. All I can control is what I am going to do.”
For 33 laps, Logano held true to his word, but with Chris Buescher breathing down his neck on the final lap of the second of the two Duel races, Logano made an ill-timed block in Turn 2, sending him spinning head-on into the outside wall, smashing in the front-end of his Ford.
“Driver screwed up,” Logano said afterwards. “That’s really all there is to it. I thought I was still clear and the run came a lot quicker than I thought it would. I tried to block it a little bit and just got a tag in the left-rear and off it went. It’s my fault. It stinks because it tore up our car and kind of puts us in a spot as a race team. It’s just a dumb mistake.
“I knew as the leader I was a bit of a sitting duck, but at worst I was gonna finish fourth and was gonna try to let it kind of play out and didn’t think the 17 was gonna get a run that quick. He didn’t fall back that far and it came to me so fast. I reacted to try to block it and I should have just let it happen and tried to race from there. I just messed up. The worst part is I put our team in a bad spot trying to fix this thing or get another car.”
While the Next Gen car is designed to be able to be more easily repaired than the previous generation cars, the damage on Logano’s car was too heavy to be able to get it in shape for the Daytona 500, meaning Team Penske will have to roll out a backup car for Logano to be able to make a run at another win in the Great American Race.
“We’ll try to make it as best we can,” Logano said. “We’ve got a couple days of practice to work on it and get it good and we’ll move on. There’s nothing I can do now. I wish I could reverse time, but I can’t. Like I said, it was just a mistake. We’ve got to move forward.
The crash was also the heaviest seen yet in competition for the Next Gen car and while the car sustained some pretty heavy damage to the front end, Logano noted that he felt fine afterwards, adding the car did its job in the incident.
“I feel OK. I feel fine,” Logano said. “I got out and I feel fine. That’s a good sign. I hit the wall fairly hard and got out no problem. That part is good if there’s a positive to it. I don’t want to be the crash test dummy, but definitely was today.”