Joey Logano still doesn’t believe that anyone did anything wrong on the last-lap of the Daytona 500 that ended with a fiery wreck, but that doesn’t make it any easier to accept.
“Everyone is going to have different perspectives, and I think that’s probably where we’re going to be,” Logano said Friday morning. “To me, the biggest heartbreak of this whole thing is that there are 400 people at Team Penske asking where their Daytona 500 bonus is, and it’s up in a ball of flames in Turn 3 right now. That, to me, is probably the hardest part to deal with because those families put just as much into it as I do.
“I learned that the most when we won the championship in 2018, and did the victory tour and went to a lot of different places and met a lot of people. I understood how much we affected people’s livelihoods, and when I realized that, it changed my thought processes in what I do behind the wheel. So that’s probably the most frustrating part. And they should be frustrated too. I’m angry about it. That part is probably what stings the most, is we had a really good shot at having a Penske 1-2 and instead, we finished 12th and 13th.”
Logano led on the white flag lap heading into Turn 3 when he was tagged from behind by teammate Brad Keselowski. Keselowski had a run off a shove from Michael McDowell, who then avoided the two spinning Penske cars and won the race.
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Having gone back and watched the replay — including in slow motion — Logano knows there will be many opinions about what happened and placing blame. But in looking it over, Logano believes it all came down to the pushing and shoving, made worse by bumpers not being aligned right.
“I’m up in the mirror, I’m watching this all develop behind me, and when the 34 and the 2 hook up, they start coming at me with a run,” Logano explained. “I throw a mild block, but when Brad moves to the left to pass me, that gets the 34 off-center on his bumper, and these cars are very unstable when they’re getting pushed.”
Logano saw Keselowski’s hands move to the left, but his car’s back end was more left than Keselowski was. It sent Keselowski to the outside wall. At the same time, Logano got hit in the left rear and quickly spun. Keselowski was hit in the right side door by Kyle Busch while Logano came back up in traffic and collided with the many other drivers who were collected.
“That’s how I see it happen,” Logano said. “It’s quite the bummer that it happened because you’re so close to winning The Great American Race, and you think four laps before that or really 30 laps before that you’ve got four Fords behind you, being your teammate, and everyone’s working together, and you think everything is going to be fine. You’re pretty stoked about the situation; kind of the best situation you could possibly be in for the last 30 laps of that race.
“Then once I saw Brad lay back and shuffle the 4 [Kevin Harvick] out, I said, ‘OK, this game’s about to change, this isn’t going the way I expected it to,’ and I knew things were going to be a little different and that’s what kind of developed into the last few laps. Cars were laying back so much trying to form runs; I’m backing up trying to keep everyone tight behind and not get so far out because … you just know there is just so much energy being built up, everyone is going to be bumper to bumper. You saw that all come to fruition when we went down the back straightaway and everyone opened it up — you saw some cars go to the bottom, and that top lane had five cars pushing each other. There’s going to be a few runs coming at you that way.”
Logano and Keselowski have not spoken about the wreck. Logano believes it’s best that everyone “cool your jets” before that happens, and he anticipates that it will be Sunday’s race on the Daytona road course. The two have been teammates for nine years now, and Logano equates their relationship to a marriage.
“When you’re married to somebody, you have to figure it out,” he said. “You’re married. You don’t just leave. You get married, it’s supposed to be forever. And so, when you have conflict or differences of opinion, you have to talk about it. You can’t just roll it up under the rug. It’s not going to work. It’s not healthy. It’s kind of the situation here.
“I will be forced, and he will be forced to work with me. We’re still teammates. We will have to figure this out. We may not have to agree on everything, but we at least have to find a way to move forward, and that is going to be the approach we need to do because going back to the 400 men and women who work at Team Penske, we owe it to them to figure this out and we will fix it. It’s fine. Like I said, you can look at this thing three different ways, and there are going to be six different opinions on how the last few laps went, and depending on what seat you’re in, you would pick differently.”