Joey Logano ‘just couldn’t make it work’ as he and Ryan Blaney crash out of the Daytona 500

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 19: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, pits during the NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2024 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

For a time in Monday’s rescheduled Daytona 500, Joey Logano looked to be his way to becoming the first driver since 2000 to win the Great American Race from pole. It would have capped a week of firsts for the two-time champion and Team Penske after Logano earned his, and Roger Penske’s, first Daytona 500 pole the prior Wednesday.

Logano seemed in position to pull off the win with less than 10 laps to go. But on lap 191, Logano was swept up in one of Daytona’s infamous “Big Ones” a huge multicar crash the involved 22 cars.

“Speedway racing again,” a frustrated Logano said. “It’s a lot of fun until this happens. It was pretty interesting with a lot of pushing and shoving there at the end. Our car was able to take it. Our Mustang was so fast. It could lead a line really well. I kind of thought I had the cars I wanted around me. I had at least one I wanted around me, but just couldn’t make it work.”

The Team Penske driver led the most laps, 45 of the 200 ran, but in the end only had a 32nd place finish to show for his efforts.

“Yep. That’s very much how speedway racing is – boom and bang and crash and all that,” he said. “It’s part of it. You’re pushing and shoving there at the end. We had the cars that could take it and were doing really well.

“I had Blaney behind me. I thought, ‘Man, if I could pick one, that’s the one I want. I’m in a great position here’ and just had to find the right opportunity to slip the 1 (Ross Chastain) again because the 6 (Brad Keselowski) wasn’t working with us, so I felt if I could keep the 12 with me I’m going to be in a decent spot, but it just didn’t work out.

“The car was so fast. The car was the fastest car on the track. I could lead a line. Whenever we weren’t saving fuel, she was a rocket ship. It’s just how this game works. The wreck always starts in the front, and you hope you’re in front of it. Second place isn’t far enough ahead.”

After a red flag of just over 15 minutes, William Byron would go on to lead the last 4 laps and win his first Daytona 500 in a Chevy followed in second by his Hendrick teammate Alex Bowman in second.

“The whole thing – everybody just gets more and more intense,” Logano said.  “You know it’s going to happen. Anyone can see it happening. You just know it. It happens every year. With 10 to go there’s going to be a caution. You just hope you’re not in it and you can’t ride around. You can’t just sit there and not race because you’ll be too far back and won’t win that way. You just have to be one of the lucky guys right now like the 24, the 48, the 2, the 9 that are still alive to do it. It’s usually the people that start the wreck that stay alive. That’s the frustrating part.”

Had it not been for the final crash, Logano’s teammate Ryan Blaney might have followed Logano to victory. He agreed the intensity ramped up in the final laps.

“You’re kind of always watching when you’re in there and especially if you’re on top you can kind of watch and see how well their pushes are,” Blaney said. “It just looked like the 48 (Bowman) kind of got the 24 (Byron) out of shape and just happened to get the 6 (Keselowski) in the right-rear and unfortunately, we were in the top lane. It’s an early end to our night, but we were up there in it and just wasn’t our weekend.”

For Blaney the crash was his second of Speedweeks following a hard crash in his Duel race that forced the team to a backup car and left Blaney fuming. He said he expected the final laps to be chaotic, just hoped he could survive. In the end, he finished 30th.

“Yeah. I mean, there’s 10 to go in the 500,” Blaney said.

“I can’t believe we didn’t wreck before that. I thought we were all going to because we were all shoving hard and stuff like that. It stinks, but I’m not as bad compared to the other night, so that’s good.”

Greg Engle