Joey Logano goes from ‘junk’ to runner-up finish in Coke 600

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CONCORD, N.C. — For three out of four stages Sunday in the Coca-Cola 600, Joey Logano was “junk.”

Then a “never quit attitude” from his No. 22 team and the survival of a restart with five laps to go allowed Logano a chance to chase down Martin Truex Jr. for his first win in NASCAR’s longest race.

He came up short.

“I wish I could play it over one more time maybe, but overall if you told me we were going to finish second after the first two stages, I would have taken it,” Logano said. “But when you’re this close, you really want to win.”

Logano, who started seventh, said his team “got thrown for a loop” in the opening laps. While he finished seventh in Stage 1, ninth in Stage 2 and eighth in Stage 3, Logano was frequently running outside the top 10.

“I don’t know how we got from where we thought we were gonna be good in practice and then started the race really bad,” Logano said. “The guys did a good job adjusting on it and got it to where we were competitive at least.”

It was the fourth time Logano has had to chase Truex for a possible win since last October’s memorable playoff race at Martinsville Speedway, where Logano won after they made contact in the last turn.

Logano then came out on top in the title race in Miami, passing Truex for the lead with 12 laps to go.

Truex returned the favor in April at Richmond, barely edging out a charging Logano for his first short-track win and then again Sunday night to claim his second Coke 600 win.

Logano went from sixth to second on the final restart before Truex sealed the deal.

“I needed him to go slower,” Logano said with a laugh. “We weren’t fast enough to win, but circumstances could have played in the right way and maybe we could have done it.

“Dang it, we had the run there on that last restart, and if he didn’t clear right in front of me ‑‑ I needed to get to his outside. If I got to the bottom of him, I was never going to clear him.”

The runner-up finish is Logano’s third of the year, following his runs at Auto Club Speedway and Richmond. His previous best Coke 600 finish was third in 2011.