Joey Logano finishes third at Bristol after pitting from lead late

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If there’s one thing you don’t want to see in a NASCAR race when you’re leading with less than 25 laps to go, it’s a caution.

That’s what Joey Logano saw in Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, eight laps after he took the lead from teammate Brad Keselowski.

Logano’s No. 22 Ford led when Kyle Larson brought out the caution flag after hitting the wall twice on Lap 478 of 500.

Logano’s team than had to make an important decision: pit or not pit?

“You know everyone is going to make their decision off of what you do,” Logano said. “If you stay out, you’ve got to expect half the field is going to pit, maybe more. If you come in, five or six stayed (out), so it’s just part of the game.”

While race winner Kyle Busch, runner-up Kurt Busch and sixth-place finisher Paul Menard remained on the track, Logano and the rest of the leaders pitted. Logano took four tires. Keselowski took two.

The race restarted with 14 laps to go, but with confusion on where Keselowski needed to line up.

As a result, Logano restarted seventh, but on the outside of a three-wide pairing of him, Keselowski and Austin Dillon

Logano was able to navigate his way into third position on his four fresh tires, but not fast enough to take a shot at the Busch brothers.

“It’s really hard to pass and by the time I got to third those cars were so far ahead of me I was stuck and was not going to get to them,” Logano said.

Keselowski took the blame for holding up Logano’s chances at the win.

“I screwed my teammate,” Keselowski told Fox Sports. “(Logano) had four new tires. We were all jumbled up like that and he was going to eat those guys alive and since we were so jumbled up, he didn’t get an opportunity, so I feel bad about that. It took two of the best cars that were in the race and took them out of it and handed it to Kyle.”

Logano’s third-place finish is his fourth top five of the year and follows miserable races for the No. 22 team at Martinsville and Texas.

Despite losing a chance at a third Bristol win, Logano won the second stage and led 146 laps, part of an effort by Team Penske to lead 344 of 500 laps.

“It stinks when you have the fastest car and don’t win, but it’s a team sport and it takes every piece to make it work,” Logano said.  “We had the car part figured out today, we just missed it on some other ends and just have to keep fighting hard. We got a stage win and that was nice, and led a lot of laps, but you want to win at Bristol so bad. Bristol is the coolest track. You see the start-finish line and think you’re going to get it, but things happen quick here.”