Joey Logano was six laps away from a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory at Kentucky Speedway when the one thing no driver wants to see happen happened: a caution.
With the field stacked back together, Logano led Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, and Kurt Busch through the restart zone, across the start/finish line and then toward Turn 1.
But he didn’t make it through the corner with the lead.
Kyle Busch charged through on the inside while Kurt Busch jumped to the outside and got some help from his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate — a shove to the front. Stuck in the middle, Logano went backward – all the way to a seventh-place finish.
“You try to think through your notebook on how to have a good restart,” he said afterwards. “I thought I was going to have a decent one, but I got stopped on the left rear there when Kyle got into me. That’s what it was — it stopped all my momentum. The 1 (Kurt Busch) had a huge run, and I didn’t have anywhere to go. I couldn’t block them all.
“I tried to stop the 18 (Kyle Busch) on his right rear by side-drafting. I saw the 1 coming and felt like if I could get in front of him, we were so low at the time that if I blocked the 1, he would just go to the middle and pass me. I felt like I couldn’t stop the 1. Once I got stopped on the left rear on the restart, I was a sitting duck, and they just went by me on both sides.”
Pitting with Kyle Busch with 42 laps to go, the pair left pit road just a few car lengths apart and ended up the lead drivers when green flag pit stops cycled the field. Logano then took the lead with just under 20 laps left of the regularly scheduled race distance. It was the first time all night he had sat atop the leaderboard.
And after taking the lead, Logano had driven away from the competition until Darrell Wallace Jr. spun to set up the overtime restart.
“It’s frustrating when you’re fast enough to win, and you don’t win,” said Logano. “Yes, it’s frustrating.”