By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
For the second week in a row, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver that wins the first two stages does not make the trip to victory lane. Joey Logano swept the first two stages, appearing to be the dominant car in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway.
In a hectic run to the finish, Logano restarted just inside the top-10 in the second Overtime of the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series season. His No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Fusion was caught in a three-wide mad scramble at the drop of the green flag. Logano somehow broke through the beating and banging with Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, and others, to cross the line in the fourth position.
Logano’s top-five almost didn’t happen. With less than 50 laps to go, his Team Penske teammate Ryan Blaney, and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. spun in turn four. Stenhouse lit up the tires trying to keep out of the wall and almost swept Logano and Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski in the process. Both Keselowski and Logano narrowly avoided Stenhouse.
“We had a really good Shell Pennzoil Ford early in the race and got a couple stage wins early which was great,” Logano said. “We maxed out those points which is awesome. We just lost the handle on the car and fell back to sixth or so. We had a bad pit stop and lost a bunch of spots and then had a really good pit stop and got them all right back and were able to come home with a top-five. I wish I could re-run that. I feel like we can do better if we tried again. I am sure the whole field would say that. I am proud of the speed we showed at Richmond. Just want to be a little better.”
The fourth-place finish was Logano’s third top-five, and eighth top-10 finish of the season. By sweeping the stages, he earned his first Playoff Points of the season. Logano remains second in the Championship Points Standings, 56-points behind race-winner Kyle Busch. He is also 167-points ahead of the cutoff for the Playoffs, currently held by rookie William Byron.
The race also marked the 1-year anniversary of his last win, which was encumbered after his car failed tech at NASCAR’s R&D Center. Now Logano and his Team Penske team will look to rekindle their Restrictor Plate racing magic in the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 29.