Late caution erases winning chances for Joey Logano

SPARTA, KENTUCKY - JULY 13: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Bayley Currey, driver of the #51 Jacob Companies Ford, race during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart at Kentucky Speedway on July 13, 2019 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

When Bubba Wallace spun in Turn 2 with six laps left in Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, it changed the course of the entire race.

For one thing, it bunched the field for an overtime restart that put brothers Kurt and Kyle Busch center-stage for a breathtaking finish, with Kurt taking the checkered flag .076 seconds ahead of his younger sibling.

For another, it treated the fans in the grandstands to the most electrifying finish of the season.

But one person who wasn’t thrilled was Team Penske driver Joey Logano, who had a comfortable lead over Kyle Busch and seemed bound for Victory lane when Wallace spun to cause the seventh caution of the evening.

The race went to overtime, and on the restart, and Logano got sandwiched between drivers and dropped to seventh at the finish.

“The caution came out at the wrong time,” Logano said. “It happens. You try to think through your notebook on how to have a good restart. I thought I was going to have a decent one, but I got stopped on the left rear there when Kyle (Busch) got into me. That is what it is. That stopped all my momentum.

“The 1 (Kurt Busch) had a huge run (on the outside), and I didn’t have anywhere to go. I couldn’t block them all. I tried to stop the 18 on his right rear by side-drafting. I saw the 1 coming and felt like, if I could get in front of him, that we were so low at the time if I blocked the 1 he would just go to the middle and pass me.

“I felt like I couldn’t stop the 1. I was in a bad spot. Once I got stopped on the left rear on the restart, I was a sitting duck and they just went by me on both sides.”

Logano didn’t win with arguably the fastest car. Nevertheless, he expressed appreciation for the quality of the event.

“Yeah, it was a great race,” Logano said. “It was a lot of fun. You had strategy and cautions, and it was probably the best Kentucky race we have ever had. If I was a race fan, I would say that was a cool finish. I’m a little too close to the fire to say it was a cool finish right now.”

Greg Engle