Logano – From Worst to First

Joey Logano Wins Checkered Flag at Richmond

By Kent Whitaker
The last thing Joey Logano apparently had on his mind prior to taking the green flag at Richmond was the fact that he was not starting in the fifth position! Instead, the driver of the No. 22 Penske Ford started the race all the way at the back due to changes made on his car following qualifying.
Logano nailed down the fifth spot during the qualifying round for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Speedway. Everything appeared to be fine as Joey was happy with the way his ride performed. Then, the team started working on the car and they found excess debris in the transmission.
Under Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rules that meant that the qualifying position was voided and the team was be sent to the back of the pack. None of that seemed to matter when the green flag dropped as Joey went from “Worst to First” to capture his first victory in 2017.
“Coming from the back … man, it really feels good. I’m out of breath,” said Logano following his win at Richmond. “We had a good restart and were able to get enough cushion. I think there were four Fords in the top five and that’s something to be proud of as well.”
Matt Kenseth
Matt Kenseth won the Richmond pole and seemed like the car to beat for the first stage of the race. Kenseth started out front and never looked back for the first hundred laps capturing his first stage checkered of the season. It was also the first time the driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry led laps this year.
Before the day was over Kenseth would chalk up 164 laps as the leader before dropping back for a 23rd place finish. Kenseth left Richmond sitting 17 in points as the series heads next week to Talladega Superspeedway.
Dale Earnhardt Jr
It was not the day that Dale Earnhardt Jr had hoped for following his announcement after the 2017 Cup Series season. The driver, and crew, of the No. 88 Chevrolet never seemed to get a handle on the car after unloading. Dale started the race in twelfth on the grid and finished a disappointing 30th.
The crew tried an aggressive pit strategy to keep Dale on the track logging laps to move him towards the front. The move seemed to be working until Jimmie Johnson, his Hendrick teammate, started to pass him. Johnson, with newer tires, made the pass and then slammed into Earnhardt. The driver of the No. 48 car quickly apologized to his teammate stating that he had no idea Earnhardt was beside him. The two said there were no hard feelings.
Things continued to go bad for Earnhardt as a cut tire caused him to spin late in the race. The incident with Johnson and the spin erased any gains the team had made using their pit strategy.
“Just terrible luck,” Earnhardt said following the Richmond race. “I don’t know what to do. But, we were probably going to finish anywhere around 10th to 15th today — not all that awesome — but we just had such terrible luck.”
The Top Five Following Richmond
There was only one swap in the top-five following the Richmond race. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings still show Kyle Larson at the top after finishing 14th. The change comes with Ryan Truex Jr and Chase Elliott swapping spots. Truex moved into second in points moving Elliott to third. Truex finished 10th and Elliott 24th at Richmond. Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski remained in the 4th and 5th spots on the 2017 leader board.
Race Stats
Time of race: 3:12:08
Average Speed: 93.685 mph
Pole Speed: 121.076 mph
Cautions: 9 for 53 laps
Margin of Victory: .775 sec
Lead changes: 18
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kent Whitaker, often called ‘the Deck Chef,’ is a sportswriter, culinary writer, and cookbook author with fourteen titles. He covers NASCAR, racing in general, Football, barbecue, grilling, and tailgating. You can visit him on The Deck Chef .”