By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
MARTINSVILLE, VA – After a timely caution kept Joey Logano from going a lap down, he climbed back through the field for a top-10 finish at Martinsville Speedway.
The 2018 NASCAR Cup Series champion struggled in the second Stage of the Blue Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500. Logano’s No. 22 Shell / Pennzoil Ford Mustang slid down the running order during the 100-lap green flag run. As his Team Penske teammate attempted to lap him, the Middletown, CT native used his competitors to block. A caution for Cody Ware spinning on lap 240 kept Logano from losing a lap.
Despite another quick caution, Logano was unable to reach the top-10 before the end of Stage 2. However, he slowly climbed up the running order. Logano put himself in position that he was ahead of a 14-car pileup with 115 laps to go.
From that point, Logano moved into the top-10 and then the top-five. He moved Martin Truex Jr. off turn four while battling for third, nearly sparking a second pileup. After that, Logano slipped back down the running order during a nearly 70-lap green flag run. When the final caution waved, he was just inside the top-10.
With a shorter 40 lap run to finish the race, Logano battled Christopher Bell, Kyle Larson, and Tyler Reddick for position. When the checkered flag waved, the 30-year-old crossed the line in sixth behind Larson.
“We weren’t very good,” admitted Logano. “It was kind of a confusing race for us. I thought we were decent yesterday the first run and then fired off on this first run and was like, ‘Uh oh.’ I had no rear grip and started fighting loose in and off. We almost went down a lap, but a good strategy play got us up toward the front and a couple good changes got us closer to where I needed to be as well.
“Then it was just kind of a slugfest, a grinding race from there. There were points I thought we were decent and then the next run we were no good, then we were pretty good, and then no good. We just kept jumping the fence back and forth and trying to understand where to be was pretty tough.
“We almost got a top five out of something that was a pretty challenging day; got something out of it. I was expecting a lot more out of today, but we still got a sixth-place finish with our Shell/Pennzoil Mustang which is just okay.”
After starting on the pole due to the metric qualifying formula, Logano stayed up front during the initial 40-lap green flag run. After rain postponed the remainder of the 500-lap race from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon, he restarted in second. When the first Stage ended, Logano found himself in ninth.
The sixth-place finish is the fifth top-10 for Logano this season and the 226th of his Cup Series career.
Logano is locked into the playoffs by virtue of his win at the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track. He is third in the points standings, 77-points behind lead Denny Hamlin.
Feature Photo Credit: Photo by NKP / NKP Photo