Joey Logano felt somewhat vindicated, advancing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs by the narrowest of margins after preaching that every point matters.
As a reminder, Logano was criticized for how hard he raced in Dover when he was many laps down. But, the Team Penske driver collected three points that day with a 34th-place finish despite taking the green flag from inside the garage.
With an 11th place finish in Talladega after recovering from an accident and salvaging a 17th in Kansas after late-race dramatics, Logano was just nine points above the cutline moving on to the Round of 8.
“Nine points after three races,” said Logano. “Every one them matters for sure. You just have to fight for every point. Everyone does the same thing — it’s tough. You see a late race restart in Kansas, and it’s like, ‘Oh boy, we’re about to crash some stuff’ because everyone is trying to get every point possible — especially when cars are right on the cutline and know they have to pass three or four cars. Then it becomes a real mess.
“Luckily we made it.”
The second round was eventful for Logano and the No. 22 Team Penske crew. After the disappointment of Dover, he snagged 18 points in Talladega through the stages before he was involved in a Lap 108 accident. But the team repaired the car just enough for Logano to continue and see the checkered flag.
Kansas proved to be the ultimate test of perseverance when things went downhill early. Logano had to make an unscheduled pit stop because of a loose wheel on lap 31. He fell two laps off the pace, down to 34th.
Fighting through the stage, Logano wound up back on the lead lap and was 15th when the caution came out to set up a dash to the end of the stage. He stayed out and lined up third; then muscled his way into the lead to steal the stage win, banking 10 points.
In Stage 2, he banked four more.
In the final stage, things were moving along smoothly until the first overtime attempt. Coming to the white flag, Logano was caught up in an accident off Turn 4 that sent him through the grass and needing attention from his pit crew on pit road. NASCAR officials deemed the leaders hadn’t received the white flag, and the race was sent to a second overtime where Logano grabbed the needed spots to keep his title defense alive.
“It felt like that this whole round,” said Logano of surviving and advancing. “Starting in Dover, when we watched the race start in the garage. Then the crash in Talladega but scoring enough stage points and an OK-enough finish to get some points. Then today — whew, we got that stage win which was great and that is a (playoff) point that will continue on, so that’s a big deal. We needed every point we could, and it looked like we were in a good spot. Next thing you know, they’re wrecking on the outside and I get hit and I’m going through the grass.
“I felt comfortable before that … I didn’t hit anything so I got lucky for sure. I have been lucky a few times. We were able to finish Talladega and I parked the thing and there was a hole in the radiator. It was a hard-fought and blue-collar round for sure.
“We just have to smooth it out a little bit. We need to not have as much carnage out there and finish some of these things. Onto the next round.
“We get to reset, thank God. We’ll fight from there.”