On to Miami: Logano bumps and bangs his way to the final four at Martinsville

MARTINSVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 28: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 28, 2018 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Joey Logano would not be denied Sunday.  After leading a race high 309 laps, Logano was able in a two-car battle with Martin Truex Jr. on the final lap; exiting turn 4 the two cars got together, got loose and nearly spun out with Logano crossing the line for the win.

“We’re going to Miami!” Logano screamed on the team radio as he secured his spot in the Final 4 who will race for the title in the season ending race at Homestead.

As Martinsville races go Sunday’s was tame; until the closing laps.

Polesitter Kyle Busch led 100 laps, but it was Logano who took control in the second half, closing it out with his first Martinsville win.

“NASCAR racing at its finest,” Logano said. “It was a lot of bumper banging towards the end and a hard race. You know, we didn’t wreck each other. We bumped into each other a lot and that is what this sport was built on. I know a lot of fans out there aren’t too happy about it but it is racing and that is what NASCAR is about and what stock car racing is. I am just glad we finally won here. It has been so long, and we have had so many chances and it feels like sweet redemption after everything that has happened here.”

Truex who ended up third after getting passed by Denny Hamlin at the line, had a different view.

Truex lost his sixth-place starting spot after failing inspection Sunday morning and fought his way through the field with a chance to win his first short track race, a chance that fell short.

“He may have won the battle but he ain’t winning the damn war,” Truex said. “That’s it.”

Kyle Busch was fourth, Brad Keselowski fifth. Keselowski led 41 laps on the day, most of those late in the going.

“We had a great car and led a ton of laps,” he said. “It wasn’t like we snuck one out there. It was a race winning car and we got it and I am proud of that.”

Kurt Busch was sixth, Chase Elliott seventh, Ryan Newman 8th, Daniel Suarez 9th and Kevin Harvick 10th. Of the championship 8, it was perhaps Harvick who struggled the most going a lap down at one point and nearly losing a lap after gaining the other back.

“Our goal is always to come here and kind of just not defeat ourselves with a horrible finish,” Harvick said. “We had a good day. A decent day. Not a great day. Lost a few spots there at the end racing Newman. His car gets as wide as his neck there sometimes. You know, it is Martinsville, and everybody is racing hard and we wound up finishing 10th and we go to Texas and hopefully have a good day.”

Harvick wasn’t the lowest scoring of the 8 Playoff drivers however. That distinction belonged to Clint Bowyer. Bowyer ran inside the top 10 much of the day, when a late race spin caused while racing Jimmie Johnson and Daniel Suarez three wide entering turn 3 late in the race left him with a 21st place finish.

“Obviously we are disappointed,” Bowyer said. “We struggled all day trying fix our loose car, but we stayed in the top-10 until there at the end when we got spun. We lost a lap, and that killed us. We have two races left, and we’ll do our best to win at Texas or Phoenix.”

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway for next Sunday’s AAA Texas 500.

Greg Engle