Sunday, July 14, 2024

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Why Joey Logano Took a 'Huge Risk' to Win Nashville

Stretching the fuel in Logano’s No. 22 Penske Ford for 110 laps – including five overtimes covering a further 31 laps – definitely looks as if the proper decision now.

After all, with a victory, the two-time champion is assured of a playoff spot and a likelihood to win a 3rd series title. Given how he began the 2024 season, that was anything but certain.

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When the yellow flag got here out and extra time began on certainly one of the originally scheduled 300 laps of the race, Logano found himself in the identical situation as many other drivers in the highest 10 – dangerously near running out of fuel.

Many teams had planned for a possible extra time or two after they last refueled. But five? No Cup race has gone longer than three.

Joey Logano, Team Penske, Shell Pennzoil Ford Mustang on the Winners' Lane

Joey Logano, Team Penske, Shell Pennzoil Ford Mustang on the Winners' Lane

Photo: Danny Hansen / NKP / Motorsports images

A succession of top drivers dropped out of the race resulting from running out of fuel or having to pit for fuel, including Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Briscoe.

Yet Logano continued.

For a team that was winless and barely cleared the points threshold, making it to the play-offs seemed not possible – either fight for a much-needed win or run out of gas and potentially lose an enormous variety of points.

“For me, it was a huge risk because I mean, you pit and you come back out on the track and maybe you could end up in the top 15, as opposed to fighting for the win, but you could end up 35th. That makes it a pretty tough decision,” Logano said.

“But man, once you win the race, how will you not do it? Especially once you see the opposite cars that were there. Chase Briscoe, winning, and that wouldn't be good for our playoff hopes.

“When you think about who we were racing against, we had to make sure we could at least stick to the same strategy as them.”

How did they do it?

As it turned out, Logano was the one driver to enter the house stretch with fuel to spare and manage to complete with victory in his hands.

The numbers show Logano’s crew boss Paul Wolfe got here as close as he could – a result supported by the incontrovertible fact that Logano drove the ultimate lap along with his fuel light on and the automobile occasionally ‘clicking’.

Of the 110 laps Logano accomplished, 69 were under the green flag and 51 were under the yellow flag, which helped his cause immensely.

Generally, three caution laps are similar to two normal laps when it comes to fuel consumption. This signifies that caution laps are roughly similar to 17 green flag laps.

Add 69 and 17 together and also you get 86 laps. The estimated fuel window for Sunday's race was about 80 laps. Factor in Logano occasionally shutting down the engine during cautions, and you possibly can see how he managed to carry out.

Still, if Wolfe's primary goal was to make the playoffs, he ultimately may not have had much alternative.

“I think for me and one of my engineers, it was a mindset of, ‘Hey, we have to win the race.’ As much as you want to say you can lead the way, that’s great, but I think we personally had the mindset that we needed to win,” Wolfe explained.

Joey Logano, Team Penske, Shell Pennzoil Ford Mustang on the Winners' Lane

Joey Logano, Team Penske, Shell Pennzoil Ford Mustang on the Winners' Lane

Photo: Rusty Jones / NKP / Motorsports images

Although Logano’s Penske teammates Ryan Blaney and Austin Cindric had won races previously month, the No. 22 automobile’s performance still wasn’t what Wolfe expected, and the probabilities of a victory were dwindling.

“I feel like we’ve made some progress. I’m optimistic that we’re headed in the right direction,” he said. “I knew the following three races – Iowa, Gateway, Loudon – I told Joey that those were going to be our probabilities to win the race.

“Of course, we weren't able to do that. Our teammates were, which was good for the company, but we still weren't in a good position.”

This may need made the choice to maneuver the fuel issue forward not so dangerous.

“We got to the point where I thought, ‘Well, we’ve got guys around us who were fighting to win, to get into the playoffs, and if we’ve come this far, let’s keep it going,’ even though it looked like we were probably going to run out of steam on the last lap,” Wolfe said.

“That’s when I decided it was worth the risk.”

This was definitely the case this time.

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