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

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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.

NASCAR America: Don’t count out Kyle Busch at Kansas (video)

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Kyle Busch is ranked ninth, seven points below the cut-off line to advance to the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Cup playoffs, heading into Sunday’s Round of 12 finale at Kansas Speedway.

While many of his fans may fear that with back-to-back poor finishes at Charlotte and Talladega, Busch will be eliminated at Kansas, the NASCAR America crew on Monday felt exactly the opposite.

They’re bullish on the younger Busch’s chances of advancing to the third round of the playoffs – very bullish.

Here’s why:

Dale Jarrett: “Other years, you have two bad races like he’s had, he wouldn’t have a chance of going to Kansas other than winning. I think he’s very capable of winning at Kansas. He has two opportunities here: he runs well in both stages, let’s say he earns 17 to 20 points and he gets himself in a good position and then he runs in the top-five, which he’s done on a regular basis recently. I think he has great opportunity and gets through (to the Round of 8) with no problem.”

Nate Ryan: “At one point, Kansas Speedway was a house of horrors for Kyle Busch. It took him 10 years to get his first win there. Now, he’s had five straight top-fives there. He had 16 stage points in the race there at May. And because Toyotas are running really well on mile-and-a-half speedways, he’s qualifying well, I think you can count on him amassing a significant number of stage points and probably more than the guy he’s below on the cutline right now, Jimmie Johnson.”

Kyle Petty: “I know we’re looking at the points; don’t look at the points. In the first 26 races, he was in contention almost every week. Honestly, I don’t think the stage points are going to matter … Kyle Busch can go there and win this race and all this speculation, all this doubt, can be thrown out the window. He’s still a favorite, as far as I’m concerned.”

NASCAR America: What Talladega win meant to Yates family (video)

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It was a heartwarming day Sunday for engine builder Doug Yates.

While he was happy that Brad Keselowski and his Ford – powered by a Roush-Yates engine under the hood – won the Alabama 500, it was also a strong reminder of his father, Robert, who passed away nearly two weeks ago.

“My dad and I loved racing here together so much, from the time we started with Davey Allison back in 1987 when he won here,” Doug Yates said. “It’s an emotional time.

“It’s a great place, I’m glad I’m here, feels like coming home, and I know he would be so proud of us and all the hard work that everybody at Roush-Yates Engines put in, and Ford Performance and the drive that Brad Keselowski and Team Penske put on was really special.

“We’re really proud to be here and I know my dad’s smiling today.”

Also, check out what Dale Jarrett, Nate Ryan and Kyle Petty had to say about the significance of the Yates family legacy to NASCAR over the years.

 

 

NASCAR AMERICA: How working radio, Joey Logano helped Keselowski win at Talladega

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Sure, Brad Keselowski had to dodge much of the mayhem Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway to win the Alabama 500.

But there was more to it than just Keselowski crossing the finish line.

His win also proved the importance of spotters and radio communications at Talladega. When Keselowski lost an antenna on top of his car, the team was forced to pit and give up track position temporarily to allow his team to fix the radio for the long haul.

That moved proved pivotal as it’s likely Keselowski wouldn’t have won if not for his spotter steering him away from problems and to keep him abreast of all the cars around him on the final laps.

The NASCAR America crew discussed that on Monday’s show. Check out the video above.

And then, check out the video below, where Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate, Joey Logano, helped get Keselowski to victory lane.

Sure, Logano wanted to win himself, but when it appeared that wouldn’t happen, Logano helped keep Keselowski at the front of the field all the way to the checkered flag.

Check out what our NASCAR America analysts had to say about how Logano and Keselowski worked together in the video below.

 

NASCAR America: Talladega brings Dale Jr. retirement into focus (video)

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans that have been in denial about his retirement at season’s end may have been slapped with a huge sense of reality in Sunday’s Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

There’s no other track that has been as synonymous with Junior and his father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Sr., than NASCAR’s largest track, the 2.66-mile facility about 50 miles east of Birmingham, Alabama.

Now that Talladega is in Junior’s rearview mirror, reality is quickly setting in that he has just five races remaining in his NASCAR Cap career: this Sunday at Kansas, followed by Martinsville, Texas, Phoenix and the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, our team of analysts explored the reality that Junior’s storied career is indeed coming to a conclusion.

“This weekend really felt like this was it,” said NBCSports.com’s Nate Ryan. “It had the right amount of sentimentality, there were the feel-good moments, and even though he didn’t win, there’s no other track where you can hear the roar of 100,000 people over the engines going down the frontstretch at Talladega.

“I really feel like you had that this weekend. Giving him that No. 2 car his father owned and him being on the pole, this really felt like this was the moment when there was a great appreciation for everything Dale Jr. has done in his career. It felt like this was the race this season where we’re really finally honoring Dale Jr.’s  last year.”

Added Jarrett, “With everything I saw the entire weekend, you could tell just from his voice the appreciation he felt of everything that was being done for him and I think it’s finally setting in to him that this is coming to an end.

“But I think he also realized that realistically, yesterday was going to be their best opportunity to get back to victory lane that one last time. Sure, he has a chance at the rest of these races, they’ve been running better and we know anything can happen, but I think that would have been more special to him if he had been able to do that.”