Joey Logano didn’t end Saturday night on the roof of a building in the Bristol Motor Speedway infield where victory lane is situated, but his fourth-place run felt just as good as if he had.
“It was much needed,” Logano said. “I don’t want to say we’ve been in a little slump, but we kind of have been. We’ve been consistent and run in the top 10, and that’s just kind of where we’d run. We had a couple wrecks here recently with Pocono and Watkins Glen and a top 10 last week felt OK.
“I felt like we had a better car than a top 10 last week and then this week we had a car that could win if circumstances played out right, which it didn’t, but, overall, I’m proud of the speed we had on the short run.”
It wasn’t just the finish that made the No. 22 Team Penske group happy, it was the overall performance. While Logano started 19th, he was running inside the top 10 by the competition caution called on Lap 62 and finished the first stage ninth, earning additional championship points.
Logano then had a dominant second stage, taking the lead for the first time on Lap 201. He would lead a total of 95 laps on the night; the most Logano has racked up in a single race this season. Even better, Logano picked up more points and a playoff point by winning the second stage.
A lack of front turn with his car in the third stage would become Logano’s hindrance. By finishing fourth, Logano picked up his first top five since Kansas Speedway in May and third top-10 finish in the last five races.
Yes, Saturday was a needed run for Logano and his Todd Gordon-led team as they have been eager to return to the form they showed early in the year.
Through the first 10 races, Logano had scored a victory, sat in the top two in points and had led 201 laps. But since then (14 races) Logano has slipped to sixth in points with eight top-10 finishes, and until Bristol, he hadn’t led more than 12 laps in a race.
But naturally, Logano was and was not satisfied with his night.
“I’m proud of the stage win we got; that was great,” he said. “Our car was really good on the short run and really bad on the long run, so we definitely had the extremes figured out. Overall, I thought we fell back to 10th on the long runs, and we could drive up to the lead on a short run. We were lucky to have a few short runs there at the end, which we were able to grab some spots and ultimately finish in the top five.
“I’m proud of the effort everyone put in today, and it’s nice to get another top five, we’ve been kind of just struggling to finish 10th lately, so this felt nice to have speed to go up there and lead a lot of laps. It’s not the win that we always shoot for, but it’s progress and we’re proud of that.”