Five things we learned from Joey Logano in the All-Star Race

Team Penske proved how quickly the organization could turn around two cars and come out fighting in the All-Star Race on Saturday night.

Five things we learned from Joey Logano in the All-Star Race
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford race winner
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford crash
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford race winner
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford race winner
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford
Start segment 1
Start segment 1
Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota crash
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford race winner
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford race winner
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet

Yes, the rule changes entering last weekend’s event at Charlotte Motor Speedway were the same for everyone. And as NASCAR said, the modifications were just minor tweaks including the truck trailing arm and crossmember assembly, electric fans and rear wheel toe alignment. 

Still, from the moment the alterations were announced last Monday to when the transporters rolled into the speedway four days later, there wasn’t a lot of time to react. Couple that with a minimal amount of practice — just 10 minutes for race winner Joey Logano — no qualifying and it’s remarkable how dialed in the Nos. 2 and 22 Fords were by the end of the race.

Logano described his car as “fast the whole time”. 

“We just didn't really show the speed in our car until the end,” Logano said. “It was definitely a long‑run car, as well, but Todd (Gordon, crew chief) made some good adjustments to help me fire off a little bit there at the end and have a good restart finally.”

Logano led twice for a total of 12 circuits. His first 10-lap run came late in the first segment (Lap 35-44). In the final segment, Logano battled Kyle Larson for the lead over the final 12 laps, finally catching the No. 42 Chevy with three to go and completed the pass on the backstretch. 

Brad Keselowski led 39 of 113 laps — the most among the 20 competitors — and finished second behind Logano.

If Logano’s car was this stout when set up for long runs, he should be quite the contender in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. 

Five other things we learned from Logano in the All-Star Race:

  1. A step in the right direction — The modifications to the cars allowed drivers to maneuver around the track for position — something drivers have not been able to execute recently at Charlotte particularly at night. Logano felt, the changes “promoted a lot of side‑by‑side racing, a lot of passing.” “The racing was significantly better than last year,” Logano added. “I remember this race last year, and I'd get trapped because all you can do is run the bottom. That was last year. Run the bottom, run the bottom, and it's really hard to pass someone because you can't get clean air.  It was a lot of fun as a driver to be able to move up the racetrack and find speed.” 
  2. The simpler the better — When the racing is this entertaining, there doesn’t need to be a tricked-up format. That was clear with the Sprint Showdown. Three segments, 50 laps including a 10-circuit shootout where Kyle Larson laid everything on the line to transfer into the main event. “There was a point I came over the radio where I said, I don't know what's going on, I don't really want to know what's going on, let me drive the car and you call the race because I was confused,” Logano said. “Sometimes the simple life is a little easier inside the race car.” 
  3. A quick study — Logano has been known to study race film in the past. On Saturday, all he had to do was watch the Showdown to get a feel for the racing and the strategies since rain cancelled qualifying and most of practice. Viewing the race also enabled Logano to size up his competition. “I knew what I was up against after watching the Showdown,” Logano said. “I knew we were going to race really hard.  It's for a million bucks.
  4. Where the rubber meets the road — Tires came into play during the Showdown and the All-Star Race. Four fresher tires for Greg Biffle enabled him to pass the stronger cars of Chase Elliott and Austin Dillon in the second segment for the win. In the All-Star Race, when 11 drivers were forced to pit following the draw before the final segment, track position meant nothing for the three cars on old tires that moved to the front of the field. “It didn't really play out like a lot of us thought it would when there's only three cars on old tires in front of you,” Logano said. “We got through them in the first corner, and then it was like, all right, it's Larson and I for this thing.”
  5. Speaking of Larson ... After watching the Showdown — and the way Larson took it to Chase Elliott, Logano understood it would be game on for the final All-Star segment. Larson loves the high line — it’s been his preferred lane since making his Sprint Cup debut at Charlotte in 2013. That forced Logano to work the bottom. “Once I had position on him going into the corner, I had to make sure I kept him on the quarterpanel and not to the door.” Logano said. “So I knew he was going to drive in to try to suck me around from the outside and I knew I had to drive in to make sure he didn't do that, and just good hard racing there at the end. It was a lot of fun. He's a heck of a racer. He's going to win a lot of races, that's for sure, and it's fun to race against.”
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