Late in Sunday’s elimination race at Kansas Speedway, Joey Logano’s hopes of defending last season’s NASCAR Cup championship appeared in dire jeopardy.
He was involved in a wreck that fortunately for him was not as serious as it was for some of the other drivers involved, including Daniel Hemric and Daniel Suarez, allowing Logano to continue on with only moderate damage.
Logano, along with race runner-up Chase Elliott, were perhaps the two biggest beneficiaries of that last caution, as they both earned enough points by the time the checkered flag fell to assure they would move on to the Round of 8 semifinals that begin next Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.
Logano leaves Kansas in a much more secure spot than he was in Sunday’s closing laps. He’s fourth after the points were reseeded, just 16 points behind series leader Kyle Busch.
MORE: Results, points from NASCAR Cup elimination race at Kansas
Logano didn’t mince words after Sunday’s race, particularly when asked if he was shocked that he survived and advanced.
“Yeah, it felt like that this whole round, starting in Dover when we watched the race start in the garage,” Logano said. “Then the crash in Talladega but scoring enough stage points and an okay enough finish to get some points.
“Then today, whew, we got that stage win (Stage 1), which was great and that is a point that will continue on, so that is a big deal. We needed every point we could and it looked like we were in a good spot. Next thing you know they are wrecking on the outside and I get hit and I am going through the grass.
“I felt comfortable before that but the next thing you know … I didn’t hit anything so I got lucky for sure. I have been lucky a few times. We were able to finish Talladega and I parked the thing and there was a hole in the radiator. It was a hard-fought and blue-collar round for sure.”
Logano hopes that the third round of the playoffs will be less drama-filled than the just-completed second round.
“We just have to smooth it out a little bit,” Logano said. “We need to not have as much carnage out there and finish some of these things. We just need to get fast, too.”
And the biggest thing, Logano added, is “it’s on to the next round. We get to reset, thank God, and we’ll move on from there.”
Sunday’s race was yet another example of what Logano has said for much of this year’s playoffs, that every point matters in every race. While some observers may not necessarily agree, Logano was vindicated in how things ultimately turned out.
He advances to the next round along with Team Penske teammate Ryan Blaney, although their other teammate, 2012 Cup champ Brad Keselowski, fell back in the final two laps, lost three points and that was the difference between him advancing and what ultimately turned out: he was eliminated from further advancement.
Yet another example of why “every (point) matters for sure,” Logano said. “You just have to fight for every point.
“I think everyone does the same thing. It is tough. You see a late race restart in Kansas and it is like, ‘Oh boy, we are about to crash some stuff.’ Because everyone is trying to get every point possible especially when cars are right on the cut line and know they have to pass three or four cars. Then it becomes a real mess. Luckily we made it.”