Joey Logano finished second at Darlington Raceway, but it felt better than your average runner-up place for several reasons.
Logano and Brad Keselowski gave Team Penske a 1-2 finish Sunday night in the prestigious Southern 500, which the company had not won in over 40 years. For the No. 22 team, Darlington was the second straight top-five finish and third top 10 in as many weeks. It was also a career best at Darlington for Logano.
And personally, there was satisfaction for Logano getting up front and challenging the “Big 3” drivers — Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr.
“The fact that we can keep up and race them and pass them, that felt good,” Logano said. “It’s been a year since I passed one of those cars. So that feels really good the last couple races. I didn’t know I could do that anymore. It felt good.”
Logano led 18 laps and was never far from the front throughout the night. Picking up stage points in both Stage 1 and Stage 2, he had a shot at the win lined up third on the final restart with 19 laps to go. Keselowski scooted away while Logano fought for the second spot with Kyle Larson, and once getting it was unable to track his teammate down.
“The one‑two is nice,” Logano said. “I was racing Larson there thinking, ‘Man, it would be cool to be one‑two, but it would be really cool to be one instead of two. But you know, overall, really cool to see the speed in the Team Penske cars tonight. We ran top five all night long, so I’m proud of that. Probably more proud of that than the one‑two finish because you’re thinking right around the corner here is playoff time, and you’ve got to have some speed.
“So, I think in the last couple races, Bristol and here… I know they’re unique racetracks, but to see the speed and momentum build, that’s key right now.”
Having control of the restarts were vital to success Sunday night. Larson felt it was one of the reasons he lost the race after dominating, and Logano also said whoever had control on the bottom lane was likely to win the race.
“We were good enough to win the race,” Logano said of his team. “Just had to have the right track position at the end. The pit crews did a great job. It was a total team effort for all of Team Penske — all our pit crews were on it, so that’s really good, and our cars were good, as well. Everyone worked to plan and did a good job.
“Brad had a good run there the second‑to‑last restart, and he took off like a rocketship. And then we made some adjustments to our car to be able to keep up a little bit the last run just a little bit too late by the time I got by [Larson].”