Somehow, someway Joey Logano left Talladega Superspeedway Monday with an 11th-place finish
He also left the 2.66-mile track with two runner-up stage finishes and an 18-point advantage on the cutoff spot to advance to the Round of 8.
But his No. 22 Ford left looking like it had gone through the spin cycle at Martinsville Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway all in one day.
It had instead survived involvement in an eight-car wreck at Talladega and thanks to the MacGyver-like skills of his Team Penske crew, finished ahead of eight other less fortunate playoff drivers.
“Everyone fought hard. My whole team fought hard today. I made everyone work,” Logano said after the race won by his teammate Ryan Blaney. “Things were going well, we had two second places in the stages. … And that’s really what gets us 18 points above the cutline right now. That was huge for us.”
A three-time Talladega winner, Logano entered the race tied with William Byron in points for the last transfer spot, but Byron owned the tiebreaker (best finish in this round). That was after a mechanical failure right before last week’s Dover race began and resulted in Logano finishing 25 laps off the lead.
As Logano said, things were going well for him Monday until he was involved in a crash with 24 laps left in the race, a wreck which “scared the crap out of me.”
“Just bam in the middle of the straightaway,” Logano said. “All things considered, the hood was blown up, I got hit in it felt like all the corners. The team did a good job. We lost one lap fixing our car. Then we got the lucky dog and got a few more (spots) before the end there. Proud of everyone to get what we can out of that. It’s what we needed to do. We’re 18 points ahead of where we were when we came into this on the cutline. That’s important. You want to be better than that, but considering the situation it was an OK day.”
Now Logano’s attention shifts to Kansas Speedway – where he’s won twice – for the second elimination race.
Logano doesn’t feel safe at all, even with the 18-point advantage. He’s ahead of Alex Bowman (-18 points), Chase Elliott (-22), Clint Bowyer (-24) and William Byron (-27).
“It helps,” Logano said. “Does it mean we’re in? Absolutely not. We’re far from it. We don’t have many cars behind (us). We’re the last car in. If one of those guys wins, we’re the first one out. So we just got to be mindful of that next week because there’s a lot of cars back there that have some speed and can possibly win. It’s not a very comfortable situation, but it’s better than where we were when we came in here. The way we control our destiny is go out there and win and bring a fast car next week.