When the reigning collection champion slipped previous him with one lap to go at Martinsville Speedway, Joey Logano figured he had misplaced his shot at racing for NASCAR’s title.
A win would earn Logano one of many 4 spots within the winner-take-all championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway. So if he did not strive one thing, his likelihood at a Cup championship would possibly slip away.
Logano used an quaint bump-and-run on Martin Truex Jr. to Sunday and snatch one of many 4 tickets to the finale. Truex slid sideways throughout the end line and promptly declared Logano will not take his title from him this 12 months.
“He could have gained the battle, however he ain’t successful the rattling struggle. I am not going to let him win it (the championship.) I will win it,” Truex fumed.
Logano took Truex’s warning in stride.
“OK. That is anticipated,” Logano mentioned. “This was our shot, possibly our solely shot, so we needed to make it occur.”
Logano was showered in boos and Truex, standing on pit street subsequent to his third-place automotive, jeered the winner with each thumbs down as Logano was interviewed over the handle system. On pit street, Truex crew chief Cole Pearn Jr. had an indignant trade with Logano crew chief Todd Gordon. Almost 30 minutes later, Pearn nonetheless appeared visibly indignant.
Truex and Pearn are a part of Furnishings Row Racing, which is shutting down on the finish of the season, a 12 months faraway from its championship run. Naysayers solid doubt on the No. 78 defending its title with the closure looming, however each driver and crew chief are decided to show everybody fallacious.
“With all the things we have got using on it, the group closing down, it is powerful to take,” Pearn mentioned of his confrontation with Gordon. “I used just a few alternative phrases I in all probability should not have. I in all probability should not be round a baseball bat or a jackhammer proper now.”
Logano gained the opening race to the third spherical of the playoffs by utilizing the bumper on his Ford to shove Truex out of his manner on the ultimate lap. The contact brought about each automobiles to wiggle, however Truex’s slide was practically sideways whereas Logano corrected after a swerve and straightened himself out as hurtled throughout the end line.
“I am a tough racer, I do not assume that is a secret to anybody, and we’re right here to win a championship this 12 months,” Logano mentioned.
Eight drivers began the day vying for the 4 spots within the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Now one of many slots is gone, to Logano of Group Penske, and NASCAR’s so-called “Large three” remains to be attempting to lock down a berth. Truex, together with Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch, dominated the common season and as a trio had been anticipated to make it to Miami to race for the winner-take-all title.
As an alternative, Truex wound up third.
“We ought to be in victory lane proper now,” mentioned Truex. “I used to be subsequent to him for six laps, I by no means knocked him out of the best way. We had been going to race laborious for it, in my e-book. I cleared him honest and sq.. We weren’t even banging doorways.
“And he simply drove into the again of me and knocked me out of the best way. Yeah, it is quick monitor racing. However what goes round comes round.”
Logano was conscious how he gained was not standard however his eyes are on the larger prize.
“He raced actually clear and I laid the bumper to him. I do not anticipate him to be comfortable,” Logano mentioned. “We have to do what we have got to do, and he is obtained to do what he is obtained to do, and we’ll hash it out by some means. That is NASCAR racing. That is what the grassroots are, that is what followers come right here to see. Some could not prefer it.”
Logano led a race-high 309 of the 500 laps however needed to deal with Penske teammate Brad Keselowski within the waning laps. That gave time for Truex, whose Toyota failed inspection previous to the race so he began 31st, to shut in on the leaders.
Truex first obtained previous Keselowski, who raced Logano so laborious it’s clear Penske doesn’t have group orders, and obtained to Logano with 10 laps to go. They raced side-by-side, door-to-door, round-and-round the Virginia paperclip till Truex lastly obtained the lead with one lap remaining.
Truex thought he was clear and headed to not solely the precise to defend his championship, but in addition his first profession victory on a brief monitor. As an alternative, Logano used his bumper to claw the victory again into his management and earned an enemy whereas doing so.
“I used to be subsequent to him for six laps, I by no means knocked him out of the best way,” Truex mentioned. “We had been going to race laborious for it, in my e-book. I cleared him honest and sq.. We weren’t even banging doorways.”
Extra from Martinsville:
TEAM ORDERS: Roger Penske downplayed the questionably laborious racing Keselowski waged with Logano with a lot on the road for the group. Had Logano slipped even the slightest, the group would have been closely criticized for not permitting Logano to have a better path to the victory.
Penske dismissed any drama.
“Brad knew what needed to occur right here immediately. I informed them to make use of their heads. That is all I mentioned. He knew precisely what was occurring,” Penske mentioned, including Keselowski additionally did not intentionally impede Truex attempting to maneuver nearer to Logano.
“Brad may have blocked (Truex). You noticed he did not make it too laborious for him to go by, so let’s get on with it.”
HAMLIN COMES CLOSE: Denny Hamlin has gained a minimum of one race each season since his 2006 rookie marketing campaign however that streak is in jeopardy with three races remaining. He completed second at Martinsville, the place he’s a five-time winner.
As he noticed Logano transfer Truex forward of him, he had only one thought: “Crash more durable. Simply crash more durable. That is all I hoped,” Hamlin mentioned.
NEW DEAL FOR JJ: It took an extended seek for Hendrick Motorsports to land a brand new sponsor for Jimmie Johnson. About an hour earlier than the race, Ally Monetary mentioned it could sponsor the following two seasons for Johnson.
Ally will change Lowe’s, which is leaving NASCAR on the finish of the season. Lowe’s has been on Johnson’s automotive since his debut in 2001 via seven championships. The take care of Ally covers all 38 races a season — an enormous monetary dedication in present-day NASCAR.
UP NEXT: The center race of the third spherical of the playoffs, Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. Kevin Harvick is the defending race winner and Kyle Busch gained there earlier this season.