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Joey Logano’s crew chief: ‘Really fortunate’ Talladega is next race

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Anyone expecting crew chief Todd Gordon and Joey Logano‘s No. 22 team to throw in the towel on their playoff hopes after Sunday’s pre-race mechanical issue that led to 34th-place finish is in for a shock.

Gordon admitted Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive” his team sees the second race of the Round of 12 playoff round at Talladega Superspeedway through what others would consider “backwards logic.”

“Really, really fortunate we got Talladega coming up,” said Gordon, who has three wins at the superspeedway with Logano since 2015.

“With Roush Yates horsepower and the cars we build here at Team Penske and Joey and (spotter) TJ (Majors) do a phenomenal job at that place,” Gordon said. “If you look at the speedways this year, we’ve been in contention to win in two of three of them and we were running up front at Daytona (in July) when we got damaged and then the rain delay. I feel good about going speedway racing and executing a great race.”

Logano heads to Talladega tied with William Byron in points for the last transfer spot but Byron owns the tiebreaker (best finish in this round). Logano’s car experienced a gear issue during the warmup laps, which forced him to the garage for the first 23 laps of the race.

Gordon said even if Dover hadn’t been an impound weekend he’s not sure the gear issue could’ve been caught.

“We haven’t delved through everything that happened here,” Gordon. “I don’t know that we get to the point that even on a non-impound event, we’ve only got three-and-half-hours to get our cars ready from practice to presenting them in the (inspection) line. You do what you can and we do a great job, the gear shop does a great job here. Obviously, this is an outlier for our organization to have an issue. I don’t know if we were parked on pit road a little funky, backed up the hill. It shouldn’t be an issue. I don’t know what happened. Something broke.”

Gordon explained to SiriusXM NASCAR Radio the team’s approach for the rest of the event after Logano returned to the race. He finished 25 laps down, with Garrett Smithley the next car in front of him by two laps.

“You never know in those situations,” Gordon said. “Every position’s a point and every point matters. … We just put ourselves into making every lap we could, because at the end of the day as we kept going it almost became the carrot to dangle there were a couple of those cars that were off the pace and losing laps and we just kept trying to catch them. We needed about 50 more laps, I think we could’ve passed another car.”

Chasing that carrot would lead Logano to receive criticism from Denny Hamlin for the way he raced him while Hamlin led late in Stage 2.

Gordon pointed to Logano’s narrow points position heading to Talladega as a defense for Logano.

“It’s no different than chasing for a stage win because it’s a bonus point,” Gordon told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “Any point you can gather in this round is going to make a big difference. If you look at the points right now, if you just said the round ended yesterday, we’d be out by one point. Because we’re tied with William Byron and they out finished us. That’s what the tiebreaker goes to, the best finish within that round.”

With the chaos of Talladega looming, Gordon doesn’t expect to change his team’s approach to the superspeedway.

“The best way that I know to avoid being caught up in the wreck at Talladega is be in front of it,” Gordon said. “If you start playing your game differently that’s when you make mistakes, because it’s not doing the things you’re used to doing. I think we’ll go to Talladega and race the way we’ve raced (all) along. Race hard, race smart and get ourselves into position.”

Kyle Larson snaps 75-race winless streak with playoff win at Dover

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Kyle Larson won Sunday’s Cup Series playoff race at Dover International Speedway, snapping a 75-race winless streak that began in September 2017.

Larson led 154 of 400 laps – including the final 73 – to secure the win over Martin Truex Jr. and Alex Bowman.

It is the second win of the year for Chip Ganassi Racing following Kurt Busch‘s win at Kentucky Speedway. It’s the first time both of its drivers have won in a season since 2010.

It is Larson’s first playoff win and advances him and CGR to the third round for the first time.

“It’s really critical,” Larson told NBCSN at the start-finish line. “Everybody in this playoff field is going to be stressed next week at Talladega except for me. … Last time I was at Talladega I was on my lid (he flipped multiple times in a wreck). I could still end up on my lid next week and it’s not going to matter after this win. … After the first stage I kind of changed my driving style up and I feel like we made the car better at the same time. It really benefited our long runs.

“That’s as good as I’ve ever been around cutting the bottom here.  Just a great combination here.  Good to be fast in practice and then be good again in the race and get the win.”

The top five was completed by Kevin Harvick and pole-sitter Denny Hamlin.

Hamlin dominated the first half of the race and led 218 laps in his 500th career Cup start. Truex passed him with 12 laps left in Stage 2 and took the stage win. He then lost the lead on pit road after a tire changer slipped and fell, slowing his stop. Larson was the first car off pit road.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Denny Hamlin

STAGE 2 WINNER: Martin Truex Jr.

More: Race results and point standings

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Martin Truex Jr. has finished in the top two in three of the four playoff races … Alex Bowman finished in the top three in both Dover races this year … Kyle Busch rebounded from a speeding penalty on Lap 123 to get his second top-10 finish of the playoffs … Matt DiBenedetto placed seventh for his seventh top 10 of the season … Jimmie Johnson finished eighth for his third straight top 10, his longest streak of the year.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Joey Logano had a mechanical issue before the race even started, putting his No. 22 Ford in the garage for the first 22 laps of the race. He finished 34th … Chase Elliott, the defending race winner, suffered an engine problem less than 10 laps into the race, which ended his day. He finished last … William Byron finished 13th after he was caught speeding on pit road during green flag stops in Stage 2 … Ryan Blaney finished 35th after he went to the garage with 100 laps left for brake issues.

NOTABLE:  Larson is the fourth driver to end a winless streak of 30 races or more in 2019. 75 races was the longest streak snapped. … Larson had nine runner-up finishes since his last win, the most all time between wins.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We just used our mulligan up.” – Joey Logano to NBCSN after mechanical issues resulted in a bad opening to the second round of the playoffs.

WHAT’S NEXT: 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway at 2 p.m. ET Oct. 13 on NBC

Alex Bowman, William Byron have very different days at Dover

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A week after a turbulent race on the Charlotte Roval ended with a second-place finish, Alex Bowman was relieved to have a mostly “clean day” at Dover International Speedway and finish third to open the second round of the playoffs.

But early on, the Hendrick Motorsports driver was prepared for the worst.

“We got together with (Ryan Blaney) off of (Turn) 2 early and I was like ‘Oh, not again,'” Bowman said after the race. “Glad he saved it. Just two cars going for one spot on the race track. Nothing happened from there. Had a clean day, the only really issue we had was that one pit stop (on Lap 123). Aside from that one pit stop (where his car fell off the jack and cost him two spots), my guys are probably the fastest guys on pit road. I’ll take it for how good they are.”

Bowman exits Sunday’s race 17 points up on teammate William Byron, who holds the final transfer spot to the third round. Bowman is seventh in the standings. Byron is eighth.

Bowman’s Dover run continued his playoff surge. He has finished in the top six in three of the first four playoff races.

“I’ll take it after last week,” Bowman said. “I’m really proud of my race team and everybody for keeping their heads on straight. We definitely executed pretty well. There were a couple things we can clean up for sure, though.”

Meanwhile, Byron had a hiccup on pit road that “ruined our day” and relegated him to a 13th-place finish.

Byron, in his first Cup playoffs, had a potential top-five car, but when he pitted from sixth place under green on Lap 185, he was caught speeding as he exited pit road. He had the second stall before the pit exit.

“We just miscalculated the pit exit there,” Byron said. “We thought, the team and me, was convinced we could just go straight out and have no issues. … I got a really good launch out of the pit box, probably a little too good. I was kind of worried about it because I beat (Jimmie Johnson) pretty good off pit road and it nicked us for sure.

“Just a miscalculation. Probably won’t choose that pit box again for that reason. It really kind of ruined our day, but at least we got some decent stuff out of it.”

Byron, who finished outside top 10 for the second time in the playoffs, was sure if he kept his track position “we could have finished in the top five. We drove back up to 10th place, which is (where) Clint Bowyer (finished) and we couldn’t really do anything with that. Then we tried to stay out long to try to catch a yellow. We just could never get back what we lost under green.”

What drivers said after Dover

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Kyle Larson – winner: Everybody in this playoff field is going to be stressed next week at Talladega except for me. So, that’s good. The last time I was at Talladega, I was on my lid and I could still end up on my lid next week, but it doesn’t matter after this win. What a day! This Clover Chevy was really good. After the first stage, I kind of changed my driving style up and I felt like we made the car better at the same time. And, they really benefitted our long runs. That’s as good as I’ve ever been around, cutting the bottom, here. So, it was just a great combination here. To be fast in practice and then be good in the race and you get the win.

“I can’t thank all you fans enough for coming out. This cool weather was nice for a change. This is unbelievable. I’ve always wanted to win a Cup race here. I’ve been close a number of times, so to get a ‘Golden Monster’ (trophy) is pretty sweet. … A million dollars earlier this year (at the All-Star) was pretty nice but no, to win a playoff race, my first playoff victory, is special. I hope there’s another one in our future, especially in the next round. So, we’ll see what we can do. I kept saying that I felt really close to winning here, or anywhere, right now. Our pit crew has been doing a better job and the team is doing a better job and I’ve been doing a better job. We’s just got to keep it going now.”

Martin Truex Jr. – finished second: (How big of a factor was traffic today?) It was about everything to be honest with you. We got the lead there at the end of Stage 2. Got that stage win. On the pit stop, we had the issue and lost track position and then the whole third stage we were behind. We were catching (Larson) at the end – we got close – but just unfortunate. We win and lose as a team. The guys will clean it up; I’m sure. It’s cool to come home second after that with how hard it was to pass. … (You earned 54 points today. How does that ease your mind heading to Talladega?) Yeah, it’s good. Every week is just about doing the best you can and getting all the points that you can. Positive day for us today. Had a shot at the win today and came up short. Been nice to have that win and the free pass, but second is the next best. Good job to all of the guys. Just a good solid day here at Dover. Wish we could have won again, but that’s how it goes.”

Alex Bowman – finished third: (It seemed like you got better as the race went on) Yeah, I mean I think we had a good car there to start. It’s just really hard to pass and it took a while for the track to widen out. I made up some track position and then I had an issue on a pit stop that kind of put us back behind some of the guys we just passed. We just have to keep working at it. Obviously, (Larson) and (Truex) were way out there, but we had a really good race car and I’m proud of my guys. I’m really proud of my race team and everyone for keeping their heads on straight. I’ll take it after last week. We got together with (Ryan Blaney) there off of Turn 2 really early and I was like ‘No, not again’. I’m glad he saved it. Just two cars going for one spot on the race track, nothing happened from there. We had a clean day. The only real issue we had was that one pit stop. But, aside from that pit stop, my guys were probably the fastest on pit road. I’ll take it for how good they are.”

Kevin Harvick – finished fourth: For us, we had a tight condition and just right off the bat we struggled with getting the front of our car to turn and we really just lacked overall grip for us. It was much different in the race today than it was in practice. … I would say that luckily this is a good race track for us and we were able to grind out a good solid finish and get some stage points on a day when a lot of people had trouble.”

Denny Hamlin – finished fifth: “(Talk about losing the lead late in Stage 2) I thought the 22 (Joey Logano) was trying to stay on the lead lap, but they said he was 24 laps down and so he was kind of air blocking us and we lost the lead, and we lost that stage. Then after that we lost control of the race and the track got tighter. There were no cautions to pick up the rubber. We just got tight. Once we lost control – lost the clean air – it was so difficult to pass. I needed to be up front with as tight as my car was, so I just lost the lead and backpedaled from there. Top five, this track, I’ll take it every week. … (You radioed in that you may be having engine issues, but you were able to finish the race. What happened?) I missed a shift on the last restart. The car changed tones and lost a little power, but it’s next year’s motor which is not concerning any more this year. Certainly, I was concerned that we weren’t going to make it.”

Kyle Busch – finished sixth: (How was your race?) I don’t know, speeding on pit road never helps. We probably finished about where we should’ve I guess, maybe one spot better, but that’s it. … (Where do you go from here heading to Talladega?) It’s a completely different thing. You try to go to Talladega and race and survive. I don’t even know, we haven’t talked about that. That’s Tuesday. We’ll figure it out.”

Matt DiBenedetto – finished seventh: (How did you grind it out?) All day, inching forward. Very little by little. That was the team, just so you know. Wheels (Mike Wheeler, crew chief) and my whole group, pit crew, everybody, making really good adjustments. This was the first time we’ve had Dumont Jets on the car in quite a while and I was like ‘this Dumont Jets car is flying’. But no, it took a lot of discipline today. The car was really fast. Even faster than seventh-place, but you get in situations with the dirty air and with the high downforce it was a lot harder to pass. The fastest drivers had to be a lot more disciplined. You had to stay behind them and not abuse your stuff and wait for traffic or situations to pounce.

(You’re not in the playoffs but there’s still a lot to race for. What do days like this mean?) It’s been big. It’s really neat. I love working with this team. They are such good people. I’m so appreciative to work with them. I’m so glad this whole second half of the season has really turned around where we have been knocking off a bunch of top 10’s, so it’s really important to us. We’re trying to get in the top 20 in points. We’ve been climbing up big time the second half of the year running where we probably deserved to run. I hate that we aren’t in the playoffs, because we have been contending like a Playoff car. But it is what it is. I’m just thankful we’ve had some good solid runs. This Toyota has been running fast.”

Jimmie Johnson – finished eighth: “I felt like we had a shot. When we were in clean air, our lap times were great. Just as everyone experienced, it was really tough to pass. We had a few things that set us back and lost track position throughout the day. But we had a really fast race car. We were able to pass some, which I don’t think many could pass at all. All in all, it was a good day. We ran better than eighth for most of it, but we just couldn’t finish higher. … (What are your thoughts about Talladega and Kansas?) Talladega is kind of its own animal. I think Kansas we’re really excited for and feel like we can control our own destiny. The high downforce tracks, the Hendrick cars have been more competitive. I know we are all excited to get back to Kansas and build off of what we’ve had the last month or two.

(Were you satisfied with the run today?) No, I mean we’re here to win the race and that’s where my heart and mind is. Throughout the day, I felt like we did have pace at times to run for the lead if we could just cycle through all the pit stops to get there. Unfortunately, we had some things happen on pit road. I had to avoid cars coming out of stalls and it just set me back. Coming in fourth and coming out ninth, I think the way it all worked out with the pit box location, I lost positions during each pit stop. So, just really tough to recover from that. I’m disappointed there, but in my heart, I know we’re going the right way.”

Kurt Busch – finished ninth: “Today, we started ninth, ran ninth, and finished ninth. It was about all we had. I was on the tight side and Kyle (Larson) was a little bit on the loose side, but we made it work. I’m happy for my teammate to win and advance. It was a good step for us to just have a nice, smooth day. We just never really found anything to help the car steer.”

Clint Bowyer – finished 10th: We started 17th and finished 10th, I don’t know. It was hard to pass. Extremely hard to pass. Almost impossible. You had to have a really, really good car. It was just kind of a struggle out there all day long for us. Our ITsavvy Ford was about where we came out about where we ran. I am looking forward to Talladega though because you can certainly pass there.”

Brad Keselowski – finished 11th: We had an okay day. We held serve. We came into the weekend 19 points up and we leave 20 points up with two big races in front of us. If we can have a great day at Talladega it would be huge. We are due for another great run there. … (Two of your teammates had issues. Were you nervous?) Oh yeah. There was something going on. I don’t know what it was, that is for the smart guys that build and engineer the cars but it is certainly not good when you see your teammates breaking down.”

William Byron – finished 13th: “(Talk about the costly pit road penalty) Yeah, we couldn’t recover from that after. We just had a miscalculation of when we could accelerate out of our pit box. I thought we were fine on pit road speed to leave the box hard. That was a bummer for sure. We had a pretty good car. We couldn’t really make many passes, but we were able to get from the back after having to start pretty close to the tail end. It just really hurt our day. But overall, the guys did a good job and got out of here with a decent points day, I guess. We’ll just have to go on strong next week. The team and I all were convinced that I could go straight out and have not issues. I got a really good launch off the pit box, probably a little too good. I was kind of worried about it because I beat (Johnson) pretty good off pit road and it nipped us for sure. It was just a miscalculation. We probably won’t pick that pit box again for that reason. It really kind of ruined our day, but at least we got some decent stuff out of it.

(What’s your mindset heading to Talladega?) Our cars are always fast at Talladega, so we’ll just have to go there, lay it out there and see what happens.”

Daniel Suarez — finished 14th: “It was very hard to pass today at Dover. We obviously didn’t get the result we were looking for in the ARRIS Mustang, but we’ll move on to next week at Talladega. My guys are working really hard, and we still have races left to go and win.”

Austin Dillon — finished 18th: “Our team showed a lot of improvement during the race today even though an 18th-place finish isn’t what we wanted. The No. 3 AAA Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 started off super tight in the first stage. I had a difficult time passing cars, especially in traffic. During the first pit stop, our team made some chassis adjustments to free up my Chevy for the rest of the stage. This proved to be successful because I ran top-five lap times at the conclusion of Stage 1. The beginning of Stage 2 was excellent. My car felt great and we were fast out there. We made a  trackbar adjustment during green-flag pit stops thinking it might help, but it didn’t seem to affect the car much at all. For the final stage, I started near the rear because of a speeding penalty on pit road. Fortunately, the team made solid adjustments to the AAA Chevy between stages and I quickly made my way up through the field. I had one of the fastest cars on the racetrack and made big gains in track position, but even with that speed, I couldn’t manage to get back on the lead lap. Our final position wasn’t representative of how hard our team fought all day. We’ll learn from this weekend and be ready for a wild race at Talladega.”

Daniel Hemric — finished 21st: “Nobody on this No. 8 team gave up throughout the weekend and we were able to make gains from where we started with this Lucas Oil Chevrolet. The car bobbled on my first qualifying lap Saturday, so we had to start deep in the field today. We kept moving forward and fighting all race long. The shifter lever broke during the second stage but luckily it didn’t hurt us too bad on the final few stops of the day. With so few cautions, we were stuck multiple laps down but kept fighting for every position we could and focusing on racing whoever was on our lap. Hopefully we can go to Talladega next week, stay out of trouble and have a shot at contending for the win.”

Joey Logano – finished 34th: (What was wrong with the car?) Something back there wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do, so we had to fix that and we were 20-something laps down from there. You can’t make up 20 laps, that is for sure. Maybe you can get one or two back if things go right. It was a bummer. Things happen. … We definitely used our mulligan. We used the playoff points we accumulated, we just have to be perfect now. We have two really good race tracks coming up though. Talladega is arguably one of our best race tracks and I would say Kansas is as well. We just have to be perfect from here. … (It sounds like Denny Hamlin is upset with the way you were racing him near the end of the second stage) Well, the situation was that I had about four or five cars that it was possible for me to catch, which is five points. You tell me if it is worth it. I would say it is worth it and I have to go. I have to try to get those spots if I can get them. If some of those cars that were that slow out there and were going to be 20-something laps down, the pace we were running we were going to be within a lap or two of them. I had to race hard. I had to keep going.”

Chase Elliott – finished 38th: I just had an engine failure of some sort. Unfortunately, we don’t really know what it was just yet. It just quit running. It didn’t really seem like anything was off. We were just kind of making laps and then obviously had a failure. It’s an unfortunate way to start this round for sure. … I don’t know where we’ll stack up (after today’s race). I assume we’ll have to win one of these next few weeks. If you ever make it to Homestead, you’re going to have to win down there. I guess it’s a good opportunity to practice here these next few weeks.”

Today’s Cup race at Dover: Start time, lineup and more

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The Cup Series begins the second round of its playoffs today at Dover International Speedway.

Twelve drivers remain in title contention, including three drivers each from Joe Gibbs Racing, Team Penske and Hendrick Motorsports.

Here is all the info for today’s race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: John Arnold, owner of Drydene Performance Products, will give the command to start engines at 2:37 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 2:45 p.m.

PRERACE: The Cup garage opens at 10:30 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 12:30 p.m. Driver introductions are at 1:50 p.m. The invocation will be given at 2:19 p.m. by Dan Schafer, Pastor of Calvary Assembly of God in Heightstown, New Jersey. The National Anthem will be performed at 2:20 p.m. by the USO Show Troupe.

DISTANCE: The race is 400 laps (400 miles) around the 1-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 120. Stage 2 ends on Lap 240.

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will televise the race. Coverage begins with NASCAR America at 1:30 p.m. Countdown to Green follows at 2 p.m., leading into race coverage. Motor Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 1:30 p.m. and also can be heard on mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry MRN’s broadcast.

STREAMING ONLINE: Click here for NBCSN‘s live stream of the race.

FORECAST: Wunderground.com forecasts mostly cloudy conditions with a temperature of 75 and a 1% chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Chase Elliott won this race last year, followed by Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano. Martin Truex Jr. won in May, followed by Alex Bowman and Kyle Larson.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for Cup lineup

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