Todd Gordon on not pitting Joey Logano late at Martinsville: ‘I missed the call’

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Crew chief Todd Gordon said he should have pitted Joey Logano after a tire rub late in Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway and knows it impacted teammate Brad Keselowski’s bid to make it to the championship round.

“I missed the call,’’ Gordon said Tuesday morning on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “I just own that I missed the call myself.’’

Logano was running third with 12 laps left when contact with Kyle Busch created a left rear tire rub. Logano’s Team Penske teammate, Brad Keselowski, held a 1.4-second lead at that point and seemed headed to a victory that would put him in the championship race in Miami.

Instead, Logano — who is not in the playoffs — stayed out and spun, creating a caution that erased Keselowski’s lead. Keselowski, a playoff competitor, chose the outside lane on the ensuing restart and was moved up the track for the lead by Chase Elliott a lap before Denny Hamlin ran into the back of Elliott and wrecked Elliott for the lead. Keselowski finished fourth.

A question after the race was if Logano should have pitted to avoid being a caution. That would have allowed Keselowski to keep his lead. Logano said after the race he was not called to pit road. Gordon declined to talk to media after the event.

Both Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe said after winning Talladega on Oct. 15 that they viewed Martinsville as a must-win situation in this round because of their struggles on 1.5-mile tracks (Sunday’s race is at Texas Motor Speedway, a 1.5-mile track) and the uncertainty of Phoenix.

Gordon admits he was more focused on his No. 22 team in those final laps at Martinsville.

“We were third at that point,’’ Gordon said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, explaining his mindset. “As big of a struggle as it has been all year, the piece that we looked at ahead of time was that this was a place we could build some momentum. A place that we have run well very frequently. I think it’s a racetrack that Joey gets very well. I think we’ve got a good setup for what we do there. In the time Kyle got into us, we were third and fighting, really (Elliott) was playing defense against us. I only got a couple of glimpses of (the tire rub). It was smoking.

“The first lap and half of that, I wasn’t sure how bad (the tire rub) was and as I saw, I didn’t know with a few laps left whether it was an external rub or whether it was on the tire contact patch, and the smoke kind of clouds it a little bit for me. Honestly, it was looking at the fact that I felt like if it was just a tire rub we might sacrifice a top-five finish out of the day, which for a momentum piece for this whole Shell-Pennzoil team would have been a great kind of add to the situation.

“As we saw it get worse — and it got worse — we were in a position where we had cars on the inside of us. I didn’t call him to pit road from the outside lane. By the time we finally got to the bottom, it blew in (Turns) 1 and 2.

“I guess I should have called him in earlier with the grander picture in my head. I missed the call. I just own that I missed the call myself.

“Regretful for that for our teammates and everybody here at Team Penske. Brad had a dominant car all day, and I think was in a great position. Wish you could take those things back but you can’t. At that time, my focus was on a momentum builder for our team. Saw that opportunity, didn’t know how bad the rub was and as it became more clear it became too late to react to that.’’

Asked on “The Morning Drive” about the balance of making decisions in the best interest of the No. 22 team while also factoring in what’s best for the entire organization, Gordon said:

“Emotionally you’ve got to figure out how to handle those things. I’ve looked back at it. There’s things I could have done differently. You always asses the situation afterwards to try to understand how you should have looked at the situation and how you can better prepare yourself because these things do happen and how you can better prepare yourself to make the right call.

“It’s tough there because it’s a two- to three-lap penalty to pit under green. There’s 13 to go. Your day is what it is. It’s a heat of the moment decision. I’ve talked to Paul about it and I’ve shared with him my shortcomings and thought process. I think we’re good with where we’re at.

“Obviously he was disappointed with it as he should be. I told him … I’d be upset if he weren’t upset. This is a passionate sport and we’re all trying to do great things, and they were in a good position, they are still in a good position, they are in a great position. Not to say something couldn’t happen in the last nine laps that would have caused a caution other than us, but we did cause a caution and it’s something we’ll move on from.’’

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Watch: Championship 4 drivers share thoughts on Miami outcome

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After 200 laps Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, William Byron claimed the Xfinity Series championship in his rookie year by finishing third in the Ford EcoBoost 300.

He finished ahead of his JR Motorsports teammates, Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier, and Richard Childress Racing’s Daniel Hemric.

Watch the above video for Byron’s first interview as a NASCAR champion.

Below are interviews with the remaining Championship 4 drivers.

Elliott Sadler

Sadler placed eighth in the race after contact with Ryan Preece with less than 10 laps to go cut a tire on his No. 1 Chevrolet. It Sadler’s fourth runner-up result in the points in his Xfinity career.

Justin Allgaier

Allgaier finished 12th in the race after struggling for most 300-mile event. He was competing without his primary crew chief, who had been suspended for the race. Chad Knaus, the seven-time champion crew chief in the Cup Series with Jimmie Johnson, helped out on the pit box for the No. 7 Chevrolet.

Daniel Hemric

Hemric finished last among the Championship 4 drivers in 34th after his No. 21 Chevrolet experienced battery problems early in Stage 2. Hemric spent 12 laps on pit road before returning to the race.

JR Motorsports sweeps top three in final Xfinity Series standings

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William Byron finished third in Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300 to give JR Motorsports its second Xfinity title.

The team, co-owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr., swept the top-three spots in the final standings with Elliott Sadler placing second and Justin Allgaier in third.

Daniel Hemric placed fourth after finishing last among the Championship 4 drivers in the race.

Race-winner Cole Custer ends the season in fifth.

Click here for the points results.

Results, stats for Xfinity season finale at Miami

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Cole Custer led 182 laps to win the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It’s his first Xfinity win and the first series win for Stewart-Haas Racing.

Custer swept all three stages of the race and beat Sam Hornish Jr., William Byron, Tyler Reddick and Ryan Preece.

Byron clinched the Xfinity title with his third-place finish.

Click here for results.

Cole Custer wins first Xfinity race; William Byron claims series championship

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Cole Custer dominated to win Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, earning his first Xfinity Series victory, as William Byron finished third to clinch his first Xfinity championship.

Byron, 19, clinched the championship and the Rookie of the Year award by finishing ahead of teammates Elliott Sadler (eighth) and Justin Allgaier (12th).

Byron passed Sadler for good with six laps to go after the drivers battled closely for the top spot among the Championship 4 contenders for much of the last 50 laps.

“I don’t think I breathed for the last 20 laps, that was incredible,” Byron told NBCSN. “(Sadler) raced me clean. We raced hard for it. I can’t believe this. I just got to thank God for giving me this platform to perform. I can’t believe this. I’m tired.”

Sadler’s chances of getting back by his teammate were ruined when he made contact with the left rear of Ryan Preece soon after he had been passed by Byron. The contact got Preece sideways and caused Sadler to get into the wall.

Damage from the impact cut a tire on Sadler’s No. 1 Chevrolet. After the race, Sadler got into a confrontation with the Joe Gibbs Racing driver on pit road. Sadler finished runner-up in the championship standings for the fourth time in his career.

Byron’s title is the first championship for JR Motorsports since Chase Elliott‘s in 2014.

Daniel Hemric‘s chances at a title disappeared on Lap 61 when he visited pit road for a battery problem. The Richard Childress Racing driver returned to the track 12 laps later. Until he was passed by Byron on Lap 54, he was the highest running championship driver. Hemric finished 34th.

Custer’s victory comes in his 38th series start. The win is also the first Xfinity victory for Stewart-Haas Racing.

The 19-year-old driver led 182 of the 200 laps, a series-high at the track.

“I haven’t done that in a while,” Custer told NBCSN in Victory Lane. “We definitely had something to prove this weekend. We were so close to making (the Championship 4) last weekend. … Our Haas Automation Ford was unreal. We really wanted to have a good showing on Ford Championship weekend, even though we weren’t in it.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Cole Custer

STAGE 2 WINNER: Cole Custer

MORE: Race results

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Sam Hornish Jr. finished second for his third top five in six starts this season … Pole-sitter Tyler Reddick finished fourth in his last start with Chip Ganassi Racing … Ryan Preece finished fifth in his fourth start of the year. He placed in the top five in all four races … Ty Majeski finished 10th in his third start of the year for Roush Fenway Racing. It’s his first top 10.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: A day after winning the Truck Series title, Christopher Bell finished 36th after losing his engine on Lap 78 … Ryan Reed finished 20th after being issued a penalty on the initial start of the race.

NOTABLE: Sam Hornish Jr.’s runner-up finish helped Team Penske clinch the owner’s championship … William Byron finished his rookie season tied with Erik Jones (2016) for the second most wins by a rookie with four.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “To be honest with you, if there’s a person you don’t want to cost a championship to it’s Elliott Sadler.” – Ryan Preece