DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Whenever Joey Logano is in position to win late on a superspeedway, he’s a threat to win. Most drivers consider the two-time Cup Series champion among the best drivers when racing in a pack.
Logano was in the position he wanted to be in late in Sunday‘s Daytona 500. When the green flag waved to start the second overtime finish, the No. 22 Ford was on the outside of the second row, behind Ricky Stenhouse Jr. He couldn’t have drawn it up better.
“I felt better about that spot than being on the front row,” Logano said after the race. “I felt like that‘s about as good of a spot I could be without having enough Mustangs around me. Unfortunately, all of them had issues, so I had no friends around me and it put us as a sitting duck a little bit.”
Even with a lack of help from his Ford brethren, Logano had Kyle Busch, who was looking to win his first Daytona 500, pushing the No. 22 car. As the field crossed the start-finish line to take the white flag, Logano pulled ahead.
It didn’t last for long.
Further back, Kyle Larson was dropping through the field in the middle lane. At the same time, Travis Pastrana was hooked by Aric Almirola and turned the No. 5 Chevrolet head on into the wall. The caution flew just after Ricky Stenhouse Jr. pulled ahead of the No. 22 car.
Stenhouse was declared the winner.
“It‘s when (NASCAR) hits the button,” Logano said. “When they wrecked, I was leading. Whenever the caution came out, whoever was (in the tower) wasn‘t quick enough on the trigger. Could have hit that maybe a second or two sooner. I would have gave that guy half the purse. I would have gave him the whole damn thing, actually.”
Instead, Logano is credited with a runner-up finish. It’s unclear the exact margin of victory, as the race finished under the yellow flag.
“Second is the worst, man,” Logano added. “You’re so close.
“You think you’re racing to the checkered flag and you put yourself in the best position to try to win at the start-finish line, and just caution came out — you wish you could race to the end.”
When Logano got the push from Busch, he knew that probably wasn’t the race-winning move. He expected it to be a real battle had the race concluded under green.
“It’s so jumbled up that it was going to switch two or three more times before we got to the start-finish line,” he added. “It was nice being towards the front, but my thoughts at the moment were to not get too far out because they are just going to run me back over.
“They were three wide behind me, so I was trying to figure out which lane I needed to fall through because the bottom was tight and I just wasn‘t in a good spot at the moment. I was in the lead, but I wasn‘t in the best spot, knowing I was about to get eaten up.”
The second-place finish is Logano’s first top five in the Great American Race since 2019.