Joey Logano started the Bojangles’ Southern 500, from Darlington Raceway, in the 21st position. Working with crew chief Jason Ratcliff, he was able to overcome handling issues and finish in the 10th place. Here is a recap of his night and quotes from Joey on the race.
Joey Logano and the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota qualified 21st for Saturday night’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. The car was extremely free for his qualifying lap.
On lap one, Logano fell back to 22nd position. However, this would be as far back as Logano would be in the field all race long. By lap 10, he started a slow and steady progression forward.
Logano got his first “Darlington stripe” on lap 71 while running 13th. It didn’t appear to effect the car’s handling too much and Logano finally made it into the top 10 by lap 150.
On lap 165, Logano got another “Darlington stripe” and the team came in twice on the next stop to pull out fenders and check if any repairs were needed. Despite the two stops, Logano remained in the top-12.
All night long, the car ranged from neutral to just a tick on the loose or tight side. Minor adjustments and superb pit stops, like the one of lap 231 which got Logano out in fourth after coming into the pits seventh kept Logano in the top-10 for much of the middle portion of the race.
Logano struggled on restarts all night long and lost a couple of spots each time, but the Home Depot Toyota was fast on longer runs. He once again found himself in the top-five with just 60 laps to go.
Logano got loose going into turn three hit the outside wall very hard on lap 322 and fell from eighth to 19th. A timely caution allowed the Home Depot team to bring him in and once again pull out fenders and left Logano just 30 laps to make up as many positions as possible.
Logano restarted the race 20th with less than 30 to go and showed some amazing determination to get his car back into the top-10. Over the final laps, Logano drove from 20th to 10th to record his third top-10 finish of the season.
Logano’s on the race: “That was a good race for our Home Depot Toyota. It feels good to get back in the top-10 for sure, but I am really disappointed in myself because I know we had so much more than a 10th-place car out there tonight. I just wasn’t very good on restarts and I would lose several positions each time and I was getting frustrated. Our car was great on the long run and I could reel those guys back in and make those spots back up, but once the restarts happened, I’d lose them again. I was really frustrated there with about 40 to go when we went from fifth back to ninth and I just got into the wall pretty hard and really messed up the handling of the Home Depot Toyota. After that, we were just falling like a rock because the car got really tight. Thankfully we got a caution and came in, fixed it all up and went back out there. I knew we only had a handful of laps to get back as many positions as we could and I was able to drive back into the top-10. That was a hard fought lap 25 laps or so, but I was determined to get back into the top-10. I’m a little disappointed in myself though. We had a car that was fast enough to finish in the top-five. Just got a little impatient there.
“If there was an award for the most cars passed I feel like we would have won that tonight pretty easily. We went from 21st or 22nd into the top-five, dropped back to 20th and then drove our way back into the top-10. And, we were always losing a few spots on restarts but making them all up after the car would get going after six or seven laps. I know I passed a lot of cars tonight. That was fun racing like that and finding some speed once again in the Home Depot Toyota. It’s been a while since we’ve had a car that could compete. We started out the season strong but have struggled since. Tonight, I feel like we were back to where we were to start the season. We just need to build on this and continue to bring fast cars to the track. The guys did an awesome job tonight in the pits and Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) made some great calls. Hopefully we can build on this and head to Charlotte and get in that All-Star race.”