Joey Logano knew what he would need to do to beat Martin Truex Jr. at Richmond Raceway, but didn’t have enough to make it happen.
“I needed to get to the outside to be able to pass, just like I passed the 14 (Clint Bowyer),” Logano said. “I had to get to his outside, had to work the lapped traffic in a different way than he was going to. As much as [Truex] burnt his rear tires off racing Clint, I was in great shape because I had some stuff left; I just had to get the lapped traffic in the right spot, and I needed a couple more (laps).
“Gosh, right there. Just needed another lap or two.”
Logano said Saturday night was the third straight week he had a Ford Mustang capable of going to victory lane.
“And we didn’t win,” said Logano. “That part’s frustrating.”
In addition to his second place finish at Richmond, Logano was third at Bristol and 17th in Texas where he won a stage before having an issue with the hood that required repairs.
Midway through the Richmond race, Logano was in control. He led for 52 laps until having the top spot taken away on pit road when the field pitted under caution on Lap 246. Although he only slipped to second, he told his team on the radio the key to the race was keeping the car in clean air.
Dirty air, said Logano, was “brutal” and the cars are “very, very, very, very, very aero dependent. Clean air is worth a lot. You saw it with the 18 car (Kyle Busch) early in the race. You saw it with us early in the race. If you can get out front, you can take control of everything.”
Truex instead took control of the race, and the lead swapped four times between Truex and Logano’s teammate, Brad Keselowski, through the rest of the race. After the race’s final pit stops — under green flag conditions — with fewer than 85 laps to go, Logano sat third and tracked down Bowyer and Truex from over 1.5s back.
“We need to clean up some mistakes on our end,” Logano said. “We lost the lead there on a pit stop; we gotta get faster there. We lost control of the race at that point, fell back to third and had a decent green-flag cycle that got us up, and then we reeled in the 19 (Truex) and the 14 (Bowyer) from pretty far back. I was watching them race, and I said, ‘Well, if I’m just patient, save my tires, I see them coming off the corner sideways … be patient, be patient.’
“They were a little faster than me, but I knew they were going to kill their stuff. And they did, and I got there. But I was just a couple laps late getting there. I was able to get to the 19 but not [quite close] enough. It is kind of a double-edge sword: You go to the bottom and you can’t get enough drive to clear ‘em — you’re never going to pass them. And getting to the outside is pretty tough. Just couldn’t get there. Ran out of time. Needed a few more laps.”