With two wrecked cars, two victories in the bank and a few hours of solid rain ahead, there was little incentive for Team Penske to stick around Sunday.
But after restlessly waiting through a red flag of nearly four hours in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, the crews of Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski scrambled to prepare their Fords as the race restarted. After they were involved in a Lap 19 crash shortly before the event was stopped, they both returned. Logano finished 59 laps down in 40th, and Keselowski was 35th, 22 laps down.
Because each already had qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup via a victory (Logano in the Daytona 500; Keselowski at Auto Club Speedway), why did the teams undertake the seemingly futile exercise of repairing their Gen 6 cars to secure finishes that were guaranteed to be poor?
Logano said it was good preparation for when a sound and swift repair job actually would matter.
“I think the damage repair the team did was really good and we showed we had a really fast car afterward,” he said after practice Friday at Richmond International Raceway. “That makes it more frustrating when you can go run with these guys, but you don’t want to be that guy racing with them when you are 50 laps down. You don’t want to make enemies out there.
“The practice the guys got fixing the car … we didn’t have to do that because we have the win already, but we get practice for if that comes up, and we have to do that. That was good practice to repair cars and get back out there as quick as we can.”
Logano said Team Penske didn’t have a debriefing meeting among its teams because of the crash, which started when Keselowski lost control of his No. 2 Fusion off Turn 4.
“There was nothing to talk about,” Logano said with a laugh. “I had a meeting with my team, and we went over what went through the weekend, but we didn’t talk much as a team because there wasn’t as much to go over after such a short run. Everything is fine. Brad and I talked about it. He obviously didn’t mean to do it. It hurt both our days, not just mine. It was a tough day, but we were able to take something out of the weekend.”
Logano was able to shake it off by looking toward Saturday’s Toyota Owners 400, which he enters as the defending winner.
“It helps with confidence for sure,” he said. “I looked at Richmond in the past as one of my toughest race tracks, yet we got a win here last spring and had a decent run (sixth) in the fall.”
“The tire has changed since then, so I am still trying to figure out this tire and how to get back to where we were in the spring with the changes made to the race car and the tire. I feel like we are close, and there is another step we have to find here. I feel like in practice we were a top five car but just barely. I don’t feel like we are quite a winning car yet.”