By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
A decision to block one run cost Joey Logano a chance at victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500.
In a highly competitive race at Talladega Superspeedway Logano was out front on the final restart in the No. 22 Money Lion Ford Mustang. The Team Penske driver successfully held off runs from Aric Almirola, Kyle Busch, and Daniel Suarez without losing the top spot.
However, when he blocked a run from Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott squeezed beneath defending series champion. Logano slid backward on the outside line, stabilizing in sixth. As he mounted a charge on the final lap, a race-ending caution waved for a multi-car incident that saw Kyle Larson barrel-roll down the backstretch. At the moment of caution, Logano was fourth.
“At the end the 1 had a big run and I felt like I had to block that,” Logano explained. “When I blocked that I can’t block both and the 9 got underneath me. If I chose the bottom and block the 9 I had the 88 there and they were going to go by me as soon as they formed a run. I was not in a very good spot.
“Once I got on the outside, I thought that would be a better spot to be than the bottom but the teammates there didn’t race each other to the end, which is good on their part because it made sure one of their cars one. If they had gotten side by side, I think I could have made something happen, but they were selfless toward each other.”
Throughout the race, Logano had been in a dominant position. He started eighth and led the second-most laps, behind Elliott. Logano masterfully threw blocks and jumped from line to line.
Logano also had to hold on to his Ford Performance Mustang on several occasions. Between the turbulence from each car and the bumps from blocking, his car got out of shape several times. One onboard shot from the NASCAR on Fox broadcast showed Logano hesitate on throwing a switch and grip the wheel as he prepared for another shove.
The fourth-place finish is the sixth top-10 finish for Logano this season and 110th of his career. He remains second in the championship standings, just 15-points behind points leader Kyle Busch. Logano is one of six drivers locked into the playoffs via victories.