CHICAGO — Despite controversy that surfaced Wednesday involving the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford team of Joey Logano and the No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford of David Gilliland, Logano was adamant that he deserves his place in the Chase — because he earned it.
“We’ve got one win and eight top fives and 14 top-10 finishes,” Logano told reporters Thursday during Chase Media Day interviews at the Navy Pier. “If you look at those numbers, that is every bit of the top three or four that have happened this season.
“I don’t feel bad about being in the Chase at all. We deserve to be in it, if you look at those numbers.”
In a story originally reported by FoxSports1, radio chatter from the No. 38 team suggested a deal between Front Row and Penske to give Logano a position at the finish of Saturday night’s race. There was no corresponding radio traffic from the No. 22 team.
Logano finished 22nd and Gilliland 23rd, but as it turned out, Logano didn’t need that point to qualify for the Chase, after the Michael Waltrip Racing cars of Brian Vickers and Clint Bowyer also finished behind the No. 22 — by design.
NASCAR hit MWR with the largest monetary fine in the history of the sport — $300,000 — and assessed points penalties that knocked MWR driver Martin Truex Jr. out of the Chase in favor of Ryan Newman.
For Logano, the attention arising from the controversy is clearly unwanted, but he’s used to it.
“I’ve been the focal point all year on something,” said Logano, who was part of the wreck at Fontana, Calif., in late March that sidelined Denny Hamlin for four races with a fractured vertebra. “I’m used to it at this point. I just go with the flow.
“I guess I’ve learned a lot this year and experienced a lot. It just makes you stronger. They say it’s character-building. I’m a hell of a character now.”