Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Joey Logano credits crew chief with third-place finish in ’12th-place car’

1 Comment

For 16 laps, Joey Logano did all he could to prevent the inevitable from happening.

But with 17 to go in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, new prevailed over old.

On old tires, the lead slipped from Logano’s grasp and into Jimmie Johnson‘s, who went on to win Sunday’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Logano successfully kept Kyle Larson behind him until two laps remained, when the No. 42 Chevrolet finally got Logano loose enough in Turn 2 to get by.

The Team Penske driver finished third for his best result of 2017, a week after placing fourth at Martinsville Speedway.

“That is Todd’s (crew chief Todd Gordon) top-three there,” Logano said. “He did a good job giving us a shot to win.”

Gordon kept Logano out of the pits during a debris caution with 35 laps to go. That was after Logano went several laps longer on the previous green-flag run than the other lead-lap drivers, putting the No. 22 Ford out front for 17 laps.

“I tried to hold off (Johnson), he was just faster,” Logano said. “There is nothing to say besides that. I was in the clean and had the clean air, and he was still faster behind me. Once he passed me, my car kind of came to me a little bit, and I was able to run him back down a little bit. If he had made a mistake, I was going to be there. He was loose, I could tell, then all of a sudden, he wasn’t loose anymore.”

Johnson streaked off to his seventh win at Texas Motor Speedway and his first win of 2017. Logano leaves Texas still looking for his first victory of the season. Last year, he didn’t earn it until the 15th race at Michigan International Speedway.

“My car started falling off like it did all day,” Logano said of the last green-flag run. “I needed a 15-lap run instead of a 30-lap run, or a couple cautions in there, and we would be standing in victory lane with a 12th-place car, and that would have been something. We just have to get faster. We weren’t fast, and that is why we didn’t win. We had a good execution race, something we haven’t had really all year. We executed and finished third with a car that wasn’t as fast as we have had all year.”

Gordon attributed Logano’s lack of speed to his team focusing more on aero than balance with the track’s repave and reconfiguration. Logano had an average running spot of 7.61.

“You have to give him a good race car, and if you can’t do that, you have to work on something else,” Gordon said. “We were a little off on speed and balance, especially in traffic.

“Repaves you worry about aero so much that I think we got a little off on where our balance needed to be. He dug all day long, and the opportunity was there. When we went long on the first pit stop there in the last stage, the final part of the race, we actually picked up speed once we got clean air.”

A week ago, Logano lamented a lack of stage points earned in his fourth-place run at Martinsville. He managed to earn two by finishing ninth in stage one at Texas.

Logano heads into the Easter break fifth in the standings and 72 points behind Larson.

Christopher Bell takes pole for tonight’s Xfinity race in Iowa

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Christopher Bell will start from the pole in tonight’s American Ethanol e15 250 at Iowa Speedway. It marks Bell’s first NASCAR Xfinity Series pole in only his second career start in the series.

Bell, who is currently ranked second in the Camping World Truck Series, covered the .875-mile oval with a best lap of 133.305 mph. Kyle Benjamin was a close second (133.294), followed by defending winner Sam Hornish Jr. (133.260), Elliott Sadler (132.990) and Justin Allgaier (132.89).

Sixth through 10th were William Byron (132.520), Dakoda Armstrong (132.286), Brennan Poole (132.186), Matt Tifft (132.059) and Ty Majewski (131.998).

A total of 40 cars made qualifying runs.

Click here for the full qualifying results.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Carl Edwards surfaces, doesn’t miss racing: ‘I’m enjoying life and it’s good’

Getty Images
1 Comment

Cancel the APB, take his face off the milk cartons.

Carl Edwards has been found. The former NASCAR Cup star surfaced Saturday at Sonoma Raceway – representing a former sponsor at an event that had been previously scheduled.

Edwards is happy, hale and hearty.

Yet if you think that returning to a racetrack means Edwards will be getting behind the wheel of a race car once again, forget about it.

But he hasn’t lost his wicked sense of humor, either.

“I’ve been talking to a bunch of people and weighing my options — no, just kidding,” he said with a laugh, according to JeffGluck.com.

Then Edwards got serious.

“I haven’t talked to anyone and I haven’t even considered coming back,” Edwards said. “Not right now.

“I think it’s pretty clear if I really want to do something, then I would do it. But like I said in January, I would talk to Coach (Joe Gibbs) first — and I haven’t had any conversations about that.”

Gluck noted that Edwards did write a thank-you note to Gibbs recently that reiterated the opportunity to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing and that the organization supported him when he decided to leave racing after last season.

Given that racing has been part of his life for more than half his life, it was interesting to hear Edwards, who turns 38 in August, say he hasn’t kept up much with NASCAR nor watched many races since he walked away from the sport.

But he is doing some good. He’s continuing to fly medical patients to treatment in his private plane.

Saturday was the first time Edwards has been at a racetrack since Atlanta Motor Speedway in early March.

He then added, per ESPN.com, “I’m probably happier and more content [than in March],” Edwards said. “You know how change is. You make a change, and there always is good and bad and there’s uneasiness. But, man, I’m enjoying life and it’s good.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

 

Kyle Larson Express earns second straight pole, Danica Patrick to start sixth

Getty Images
3 Comments

Kyle Larson continues to lead the way in NASCAR — both literally and figuratively.

The current NASCAR Cup points leader will also start Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 race at Sonoma Raceway from the pole for the second straight race, having done so in last week’s eventual win at Michigan International Speedway.

“This is cool to get a pole on a road course in my home state,” Larson told Fox Sports 1. “This is the closest track to Sacramento and Elk Grove, where I grew up, so lots of friends and family here.”

And to make things even sweeter, Larson (qualified with a field-best speed of 95.295 mph) will start Sunday’s race alongside Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Jamie McMurray, who qualified on the outside of the front row with his own effort of 95.204 mph.

“I thought I did a really good job,” McMurray told FS1. “I don’t feel like I gave up, or that there was a corner that stuck out. Overall, it was a really good lap, but Kyle just got a little bit more.”

It was also Larson’s third pole of 2017; he also started from the front at Fontana (where he also won) in March.

Here’s the rest of the top 10 qualifiers:

Row 2: Martin Truex Jr. will start third, alongside Kyle Busch, still searching for his first Cup win since last year’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis.

Row 3: A.J. Allmendinger starts fifth alongside Danica Patrick, who had the best qualifying effort of all four Stewart-Haas Racing drivers.

It was Patrick’s best Cup qualifying effort since starting fourth at Charlotte in May 2014, and her third-best Cup qualifying effort ever. It also marked the sixth time since she joined SHR that she out-ran all of her teammates, per RacingInsights.com.

“I feel like I can drive this place in my sleep just because I’ve driven so many laps here over the years,”Patrick told FS1. “Man, I hope Sunday’s good and everything falls right. It’s great, it’s nice, it’s been a tough go of it this year. It feels good to have a good starting spot and let’s hope we start clean and have a smooth day.”

Row 4: Ryan Blaney will start seventh, next to Chase Elliott, who was forced to go to backup car after wrecking in practice Friday.

Row 5: Chris Buescher starts ninth, his best career qualifying effort, alongside Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Only 38 cars are qualified for Sunday’s race. Matt Kenseth didn’t get an attempt in Saturday, so he’ll start from the back of the pack.

Click here for the full qualifying field results.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Trevor Bayne: ‘The hardest it’s ever been to leave home to come to the race track’

Photo courtesy of Trevor Bayne
Leave a comment

Yes, Trevor Bayne wants to win, but he can’t wait to get back home after Sunday’s race and see his family and newborn son.

“This was probably the hardest it’s ever been to leave home to come to the race track,’’ Bayne told reporters Saturday before qualifying at Sonoma Raceway.

His son, Levi Jensen Bayne, was born June 20 after a challenging birth.

Bayne and wife Ashton went to the hospital at 6 a.m. on June 19 to induce so their son would be born before Bayne left for this weeknd’s Cup race in Northern California.

Hours later, the baby still hadn’t arrived.

“We induced Monday at 6 a.m. and at midnight still hadn’t had a baby,’’ Bayne said. “She labored all day, and he kind of stopped progressing. I guess … at about 8 o’clock that night, the nurse was checking to see how dilated she was and he grabbed her hand. His hand was above his head and grabbed the nurse and she freaked out. She moved his hand and thought that would helped him progress. At midnight that hadn’t happened. So they decided to do a C-section.

“It’s so hard when you love somebody and you want the best for them, but you’re not in control. Not being in control in the operating room was wearing me out. I just had to keep going back and praying and saying, ‘Lord, I trust you, you’ve brought us this far and whatever good you have for us, I’m going to leave him in your hands.’

“They got (Levi) out and gave him to me, and Ashton was like falling asleep in the middle of it. I couldn’t watch them do the incision, but I watched them sew her back up and that was probably a bad idea. She’s tough, I’ll tell you that much. They found (Levi’s) umbilical cord was around his neck and that’s why he didn’t progress, so it’s a really good thing they did the C-section.

“The next day .. we brought our little girl (18-month-old Elizabeth Kate Bayne) in and she was loving on him and smiling like crazy. Ashton obviously was recovering. This was probably the hardest it’s ever been to leave home to come to the race track. Thursday morning, we left the hospital at 7:30, got home and spent two hours getting them sorted, and I had to leave to fly here. I wanted to stay home. Offseason babies are awesome because you can stay home for a couple of months.

“Everybody is good. Can’t wait to get home to them.’’

Before he does, he has Sunday’s race. Bayne enters this weekend 18th in the points. His best finish is 23rd in two previous races at Sonoma.

Loaded em up and got them all home! Now it gets real! @ashtonbayne lookin good 2 days after birth!

A post shared by Trevor Bayne (@tbayne6) on

 and on Facebook