Todd Gordon, crew chief for Joey Logano, has apologized for leaving the Penske driver on track at Martinsville Speedway with a severe fender rub.
Logano’s tire blew with nine laps to go and his spin in Turn 2 brought out a caution that was costly for teammate Brad Keselowski. Keselowski was leading the First Data 500 and had put a comfortable gap on second-place Chase Elliott.
Had Keselowski won the race, the No. 2 team would have advanced to the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. But after the caution, Keselowski was rooted out of the lead by Elliott and eventually finished fourth.
“I’ll say it to everybody, all the Team Penske fans and everybody out there – I probably made a poor call in not getting him [Logano] to pit road before that tire got cut down,” Gordon said on The Morning Drive on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “It impacted our teammate’s day, and I’m regretful for that. Wish I could have that call over, but we make calls in 60 seconds at times and don’t always have all the facts clear in our head.
“I failed with that one a little bit and took a potential clinching spot from my teammate. Really, really sorry for that situation and that thought process.”
Logano was running third when he was hit in the left rear by Kyle Busch. The rub produced heavy smoke, but Logano stayed on track for four laps before the tire went down.
Gordon admitted that after how rough the season has gone for the No. 22 team, Martinsville was looked at as a place to run well. With that in mind, Gordon said he only got a few glimpses of the damage and was not sure it was bad enough to warrant an immediate dive to pit road.
“Honestly, looking at the fact that, I felt like if it was just a tire rub, we might sacrifice a top-five finish out of the day [by pitting], which for momentum for this whole Shell / Pennzoil team would have been a great kind of add to the situation,” Gordon said.
“As we saw it get worse, we were in a position where we had cars to the inside of us and I didn’t call him to pit road from the outside lane, and by the time we finally got to the bottom it blew.
“I guess I should have called him in earlier with the [bigger] picture and I missed the call. I’ll just own that I missed the call.”
Gordon and Keselowski’s crew chief, Paul Wolfe, have talked about the situation. After sharing his side of the events, Gordon told Wolfe, who was upset, that he had a right to be.
Since an encumbered win at Richmond in the spring took away the team’s playoff eligibility, it has been a struggle to right the ship. The speed has not always been there and Sunday was what has become a rare weekend of Logano seemingly having all the pieces in place to contend for a race win.
Logano finished 24th after sweeping all three rounds in qualifying and leading 59 laps in the race. He has finished in the top 10 just six times in the last 24 races.