By Christian Koelle, Staff Writer — Cover photo by Nigel Kinrade Photography
Joey Logano was in solid form Sunday afternoon at Phoenix Raceway. The 2018 NASCAR Cup Series champion led the most laps in the race but it was a late-race restart where he lost the lead. Logano couldn’t get to the No. 19 of race winner Martin Truex Jr. as he came up short of his first victory in 2021.
“All of the above, just a little bit everywhere is where it seemed they beat us,” said Logano. “Once they got the 19 car tuned in he was the fastest car on the racetrack. We did a good job maximizing our day with our Shell/Pennzoil Mustang. We were a second-place car and finished second, won a stage and second in the other stage, so a lot of points. I hate finishing second, though. It really stinks, but, overall, this has been a good racetrack for us. The last few times we’ve been here is first, third and second, so we’re all over it, just needed that last run not to have a caution. I think we were in a pretty good spot to maybe run that thing out, but, overall, that was where we had it.”
Much like he did last November, Logano had a dominant car but again came up short of the victory. The second-place finish was his second of 2021 and the 17th of his career.
“They had the best car. They turned it in,” added Logano. “We had a good car, for sure, but once they tuned it in toward the end of the second stage that was the best car on the racetrack. He just had to get upfront and he did, so I’m proud of the Shell/Pennzoil team. We did a great job all day execution-wise, staying upfront, good pit stops, getting us back upfront when we lost our track position, and, overall, a solid day. We had a stage win and some points in second place, so we’ll take it. It’s not a win. Second hurts, but we’ll move on and go to Atlanta (Motor Speedway).”
After starting the race from ninth, he and his Team Penske teammates showed they meant business today as the trio led a combined 197 laps — Logano led 143 of those. Despite having the speed, Logano’s pit crew really needs the credit also as they put him out front and gave him the tools he needed to battle for the victory.
The NASCAR Cup Series heads back east next weekend for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta. In last season’s race, Logano finished 10th. It will be his 14th attempt at victory at the 1.5-mile circuit, where his best career finish of second came in 2013.