Joey Logano got a stark reminder at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course last Sunday of just how important a single point can be in a championship run.
Fortunately, the wake-up call didn’t prove costly to Logano himself.
But when Kyle Larson bounced off the outside wall in a crippled car on the final lap of the Bank of America Roval 400 and finished just high enough to create a three-way tie for the last two berths in the Round of 12 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, the complexion of the title competition changed radically.
Moments earlier, entering the final chicane, seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson had been battling Martin Truex Jr. for the race win. But Johnson lost control in the chicane and ultimately knocked Truex into the outside wall.
Johnson would have advanced to the Round of 12 had Larson not steered his car around the track and passed the stalled car of Jeffrey Earnhardt 100 feet from the finish line to gain the one position he needed to create the three-way tie. On a tiebreaker using the respective best finishes in the Round of 16, Johnson was the odd man out.
And Logano noticed.
“We always say, ‘Man, we need every point possible; we need to get every little bit that means so much,’” Logano said on Friday at Dover International Speedway. “But think about like not only during that race, but the races leading to it or the regular season. You know how big one stage win would have been? That’s all that matters sometimes to make a huge difference.
“Your whole season can be on one point, and that’s what these Playoffs bring, and that’s so cool. We all knew that, but when you see it again, and sometimes you get kind of comfortable with a situation and then you see that and it’s like, ‘Wow, one point would make a really big difference a lot of times.’
“So we need to race aggressively knowing that. You can be put into a situation where the smallest thing makes a big difference.”