“This is definitely the hardest start to a season we’ve had” – Joey Logano

“This is definitely the hardest start to a season we’ve had" - Joey Logano
“This is definitely the hardest start to a season we’ve had" - Joey Logano
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Joey Logano came up one spot short in his bid for a third-career win at Richmond Raceway Sunday night as the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang crossed the line second in a green-white-checkered finish.

The runner-up effort marked Logano’s fifth top-five finish in his last eight starts at Richmond and 14th-career top-five in 30 starts at the Virginia short track.

With scattered showers in the area prior to the drop of the green flag prompting the use of wet weather tires, Logano worked his way up to seventh in the running order by the time of the competition caution on lap 30.

After getting a set of slick tires and fuel, Logano continued his charge to the front as track conditions improved en route to a fifth-place finish in Stage 1. Varying pit strategies began to take shape in Stage 2 as crew chief Paul Wolfe and the 22-team opted for a two-stop strategy in the 160-lap segment.

Following a scheduled, green flag stop on lap 128, Logano cycled to third on the leaderboard when the caution came out on lap 170, trapping a handful of teams a lap down that chose to split the stage in half.

Logano restarted from the outside of row one with 53 laps to go in the stage and came away with a third-place finish in Stage 2. After settling into third in the running order during the opening run of the final stage, the 22-team stayed with its two-stop strategy, prompting Logano to hit pit road for a pair of four-tire stops under green on laps 287 and 336, respectively. Logano raced his way up to second with 30 laps to go as his long-run speed closed the gap to the leader to under a second with 10 laps remaining.

As the margin to the leader continued to close, the caution came out with two laps to go, setting up one final round of pit stops prior to the green-white-checkered finish. Logano lined up for the restart from the inside of row two and cleared the outside lane coming to the white flag, but ultimately settled for the runner-up result.

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LOGANO’S THOUGHTS:

“This is definitely the hardest start to a season we’ve had, but last week we started scratching and clawing and got a little bit of momentum through the last three races and ultimately get to here to where we were in the hunt again. It feels good. It’s Richmond. It’s a unique racetrack. It’s our best racetrack as a team, so we expect to run good here. I don’t know if this completely takes us out of the deep end, but I think, ultimately, it’s a good momentum-builder for sure.

I didn’t get a good enough restart. I really wanted to pressure them down into one and force them to work up [Martin] Truex, but I spun my tires there just trying to stay with them and that ultimately cost me to be close enough to do something. It feels good to be towards the front again. We haven’t had a run like that in a while, but it also stings to be that close and not capitalize on the win. I guess I have mixed emotions. We had a really good car, a car that was capable of winning if we were in the front, but we didn’t execute everywhere else good enough to get there.”

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Martinsville Speedway for Round 8 of the 2024 NASCAR season on Sunday, April 7 for the Cook Out 400. Coverage begins at 3:00 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.

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