Joey Logano participated in the Drydene 400 at Dover but wasn’t racing. He spent the whole afternoon just logging laps — lap after lap after lap — in hopes of picking up any positions and points he could since no matter what, he was going to finish toward the bottom of the running order.
Logano’s No. 22 Team Penske Ford never made it to the green flag Sunday afternoon after rolling slowly down pit road during the pace laps. He was slated to line up 14th but told his team that something was broken that required immediate attention.
On pit road, the team jacked up both the left and right sides and took a look. Crew chief Todd Gordon then instructed his driver to launch out of the pit stall and to see what he had, but when Logano took off, the rear tires were spinning faster than the car was traveling.
“Gears and axles,” Gordon radioed his team as they hustled to the garage.
When Logano eventually joined the race, he was 23 laps down.
“Something back there wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do, so we had to fix it,” said Logano. “You can’t make up 20 laps, that is for sure. Maybe you can get one or two back if things go right. It was a bummer. Things happen. I guess the good news is that I think we are the last one in right now; we definitely used our mulligan.
“We used the playoff points we accumulated; we just have to be perfect now. We have two really good racetracks coming up, though: Talladega is arguably one of our best racetracks, and I would say Kansas is as well. We just have to be perfect from here.”
By reeling off laps, Logano moved from a potential last-place finish (38th) up to 34th. Over the course of the day, he passed Chase Elliott, Reed Sorenson, Chris Buescher, and his teammate Ryan Blaney, all of whom fell out of the race with fewer than 300 of the race’s 400 laps complete. As a result, Logano earned three points and is tied for the final transfer spot with William Byron going into Talladega.
Logano is a former winner at both Talladega and Kansas Speedway, the elimination race for the Round of 12. At the start of the day, Logano was fourth on the playoff grid with a 24-point advantage on the cutline.
Even as a non-factor in the race, there were questions of how hard Logano raced the leaders, particularly from Denny Hamlin. Polewinner Hamlin had been dominating the race as Stage 2 wound down when he came upon Logano and other traffic, allowing Martin Truex Jr. to close in and eventually take the lead with 11 laps to go. Initially, Hamlin admitted he thought Logano was fighting to stay on the lead lap until being informed of how far behind he was.
“And so he was kind of air blocking us and we lost the lead, and we lost that stage,” said Hamlin.
Logano offered a rebuttal, saying he was doing what he needed to looking at the bigger picture.
“Well, the situation was that I had about four or five cars that it was possible for me to catch, which is five points,” said Logano. “You tell me if it is worth it. I would say it is worth it and I have to go — I have to try to get those spots if I can get them.
“If some of those cars that were slow out there and might have ended up 20-something laps down, the pace we were running we were going to be within a lap or two of them. I had to race hard. I had to keep going.”