Logano's crew chief admits he made "poor call" by not bringing car in

Todd Gordon issued a mea culpa on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Tuesday.

Logano's crew chief admits he made "poor call" by not bringing car in
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Todd Gordon
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford, Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske Ford and Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford
Joey Logano, Team Penske Ford and Todd Gordon

The crew chief of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford admitted he waited too long to bring Joey Logano to the pits after he developed a severe tire rub following contact with Kyle Busch while battling for third at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday.

"I failed"

At the time of the incident, teammate Brad Keselowski was in command First Data 500. Keselowski had a 1.7-second lead over Chase Elliott when Logano’s left rear tire blew with less than 10 laps remaining in the race.

“I guess, I’ll say it to all the Team Penske fans and everybody out there, I probably made a poor call in not getting him to pit road before that tire got cut down. It impacted our teammate's day. I’m regretful for that. I wish I could have that call over. But we make calls in 60 seconds at times, and we don’t always have all the facts clear in our head.

“I failed with that one a little bit and it took a potential clinching spot for my teammate. Really, really sorry for that situation and that thought process.”

Prior to the wreck, which relegated Logano to a 22nd-place finish, it had been a banner weekend for the team. Logano was 12th-quick off of the truck in first practice, led Happy Hour and then earned his 19th-career pole—and his fourth at Martinsville. He led 59-laps in the first stage and remained in contention throughout the event until Busch knocked his fender in.

Battling up front

After missing the playoffs for the first time since Gordon and Logano joined forces at Penske in 2013, it’s understandable why the team pushed past the normal limits in hopes of posting a solid finish in an otherwise unremarkable season.

“We were third at that point,” Gordon said of Logano’s position on Lap 487. “As big of a struggle as it has been all year, we thought this was a place that we could build some momentum. It’s a place that we’ve run well very frequently. I think it’s a race track that Joey gets very well. I think we have a good setup for what we do there.

“At the time that Kyle got into us, we were third and fighting—the 24 was playing defense against us—for second. I only got a couple of glimpses of it, that it was smoking. After the first lap-and-a-half, I wasn’t sure how bad it was. As I saw it, with a few laps remaining, I didn’t know if it was an external rub or whether it was on the tire contact patch. The smoke kind of clouded it for me.

“Honestly, I was looking at the fact that if it was just a tire rub, we just might sacrifice a top-five finish out of the day—which would have been great momentum for the team. As we saw it get worse and it got worse, we had cars on the inside of us and I couldn’t call him to pit road from the outside lane. By the time we finally got to the bottom, it blew in (Turns) 1 and 2. I guess I should have called him earlier, in the grander picture, and I missed the call.”

Gordon said, emotionally, a crew chief has to learn how to handle tough calls. He’s apologized to his fellow Penske crew chief Paul Wolfe, who oversees Keselowski’s team.

In retrospect, he wished he had called Logano in sooner but feels he’ll learn from this situation and move on.

Overall, he felt the team and Logano displayed an exceptional effort at Martinsville. Gordon believes the team can build on their performance next weekend at Texas Motor Speedway where Logano has posted seven top-five finishes at the 1.5-mile track in nine starts with Team Penske.

“We had good speed all day,” Gordon said. “I thought our long-run speed was really good. Our first 10 laps were kind of a struggle because he had to play some defense. But overall we had a great run with the Shell/Pennzoil Ford. Unfortunately, we got damage there with 10 to go and cut a left rear tire.

“But we had speed, which is a good recovery from where the season was and something we can build on going to Texas.”

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