FONTANA, Calif. – Joey Logano didn’t experience the early complications that beset teammate Brad Keselowski, but the driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford nevertheless had to overcome late-race obstacles to pull off a fifth-place finish.
Logano pitted early on Lap 177, along with Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott. Three laps later, an ill-timed caution trapped Logano a lap down, but he regained the lead lap with a wave-around for a restart on Lap 185.
When caution flew on that same circuit for Matt Kenseth’s hard crash into the inside backstretch wall, Logano came to pit road for tires and ultimately drove up to fifth by the end of the two-lap overtime.
“It was up-and-down, for sure,” said Logano, who started the race 35th after his car failed to pass inspection in time to make a run in the first-round of knockout qualifying on Friday. “Our car was really good on the short runs just like yesterday (in the NASCAR XFINITY Series race). Our car was good on the short runs and not good on the long runs. We would lose too much time.
“We tried to short-pit them and got caught with the caution and got stuck down a lap with 20 to go or so. We were able to recover, and at one point I thought we were going to win the race and had some trouble on pit road and lost some spots again. But we were able to make some of them back up and end up with a top five out of it.
“I guess we need to try to make our car a little bit better on the long run and smooth out some mistakes.”