RICHMOND, Va. — Richmond Raceway was the road marker for two defined turning points in Joey Logano’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.
The first came in April, when he won the race and was later stripped of all its benefits, after the win was encumbered due to a rear suspension violation on his No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford.
The second came at the end of Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400, when Logano finished second to race winner Kyle Larson and missed the playoffs by failing to win the regular season finale.
Logano entered the weekend in a must-win situation, sitting well outside the realm of pointing his way into the postseason, and he knew it. He said before qualifying on Friday that it was “do-or-die” for he and his team, and ultimately, they couldn’t deliver on the mark that they needed to hit.
“We came into the weekend saying second would be a failure and we finished second, so at the end of the day we were one spot short,” said Logano. “But overall, I’m proud of this team. We came in here with the pressure on us and we executed the best we could. We scored some good stage points, which don’t mean anything, but it means we’re up front at least. We just came up a little bit short there at the end.”
Logano found his way to second after the white flag flew, driving past Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin as they got together entering turn one and Truex ultimately crashed, but the caution flag flew and ended the race without giving Logano another restart to try and pounce.
“I had a good restart,” he explained. “The last run before that we short-pitted and we lost a lot of speed that run. For whatever reason, we lost all of our track position and fell out of the top five, and then just had to fight hard there at the end to try to make something happen.”
“We hoped there would be another caution (before the white flag). They all but brought out a caution … just didn’t do it in time for us to be able to benefit from it.”
Logano admitted that it hurt to come so close to “crashing the party” and making the playoffs, but not be able to seal the deal in the end.
“It stings a little bit,” he said of finishing second and coming up short. “Last time we were sitting here (in the Richmond media center) after a race, it was after a win, and this time it’s after a second … which overall, if you look at our Richmond races for the season, you’d say that’s pretty good to have a first and a second. But it stings to come up one spot short when we needed a win to be able to get into the playoffs. At the end of it all, it is what it is.”
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