Watkins Glen, N.Y. - Joey Logano’s dive-bomb move going into turn one on the final restart with eight laps to go proved to be the difference as he won Saturday’s Zippo 200 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Watkins Glen International for the third time in four years.
Logano, who started on the pole, was third behind Brad Keselowski and Ryan Preece, but when they hit turn one he darted to the inside and got side-by-side with his Penske teammate. Logano was able to gain the advantage and appeared to set sail, but Keselowski was able to reel him in and was right on his bumper as the laps dwindled.
As the two drivers entered turn one with only two laps remaining, Keselowski drove in too hard to the inside and ended up spinning into the runoff area. That left Logano with a four-second lead on the field and he cruised to his 30th career NASCAR XFINITY Series victory. Keselowski finished 10th.
Logano and Keselowski combined to lead 57 of the 82 laps, but all of the other Ford teams emerged with good finishes as well. Aric Almirola finished fifth for Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-DenBeste while Cole Custer was right behind in sixth. Ryan Reed drove home eighth while Austin Cindric survived a spin to finish 13th in a backup Mustang.
The race featured rain tires as a brief shower dampened the track and crews scrambled to make the transition, but it wasn’t too long before the sun returned and teams went back to the preferred slicks.
Ford Finishing Results:
1st -- Joey Logano
5th -- Aric Almirola
6th -- Cole Custer
8th -- Ryan Reed
10th -- Brad Keselowski
13th -- Austin Cindric
15th -- Kaz Grala
JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Snap-On Ford Mustang
WHAT’S THE STORY ABOUT NOT BEING IN THE 22 THIS YEAR?
“I drive the car they tell me to drive (laughing). I don’t know, we wanted to switch and see what was going on, so we switched. The thing is I didn’t really switch because Wilson was the crew chief last year when we won, so I was like, ‘OK, let’s switch. We’re on the same team.’ I don’t know. We just did, but it was a good car. They both were good cars. They’re both great teams. The pit crew on both cars are Cup teams when we come to the road course here with the pit stops backwards, so we do that to get some experience for our guys, but, really, I guess probably the advantage is to the 12 because they don’t race for stages and we’ve got to race for stage points, so it was probably maybe a little advantage there. It comes down to the end of it like the last few years it seems like it’s the two of us battling it out like crazy. I was working as hard as I can there. It was a fun battle. These XFINITY cars have a really good package around this race track for some racing because there’s just enough draft to keep the leader from pulling away.”
WHAT WENT THROUGH YOUR MIND WHEN YOU SAW BRAD SPIN IN YOUR MIRROR?
“We both overdrove that corner because that was the closest he was in a few laps and I knew he was thinking that was gonna be his chance. I knew I had to drive in that corner pretty hard or else he was gonna get to the inside of me. I can’t speak for him, but I’m pretty sure he thought he was gonna drive in harder than me wherever I was, and I started braking and thought, ‘Oh know. I’m gonna wheel-hop this thing,’ and I looked in the mirror and saw smoke and a car sideways and I got piled in to. ‘Well, I guess he got in a little harder even,’ but we both were just pushing those cars as hard as we possibly could. It was qualifying laps when the green flag dropped and you see how we were able to pull away from a lot of the field. We were just trying so hard. It’s a real testament to what the cars and the motors – we’re revving them out as high as we can, we’re pushing the brakes as hard as we can, we’re sliding these things around doing whatever we can do to beat each other. We knew we were gonna have a fun, clean race. You know that when you’re racing against your teammate, but I thought I was gonna be able to pull away and I couldn’t.”
DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING FOR THE GIBBS TOYOTAS TOMORROW?
“The 18 car is really fast. Those cars on the Cup side they’re so fast. It’s gonna take a lot. To answer your question, no we didn’t. None of us had the speed to race with those guys. Now with that being said, I’m sure we changed things. I had to go drive the car, so I don’t know what we changed, but we’re gonna change some things to try to make it better, but you know when you look at the Gibbs cars here, they’re fast here too. When you have Kyle in it here, we’ve all been racing each other pretty hard. Preece ran really good in that car today, so it’s not like they’re lacking speed on this side. They’ve got stuff figured out right now on the Cup side, where all their cars this week are fast – the 20, the 11, all of them, the 19 I think has decent speed as well. We’re gonna have to do all we can do to keep up with them.”
DID YOU FEEL THE RESTART WAS YOUR ONLY CHANCE TO TAKE THE LEAD AND HOW MUCH CONTACT WAS THERE?
“I thought that was gonna be my best shot, but I really honestly thought I would have a shot afterwards, so I wasn’t gonna go all-or-nothing. I was able to have a good restart and dropped to the inside and he braked a little early and I was able to get it all the way door-to-door with him and we barely touched about the two-thirds of the exit point of the corner. It was nothing. It was just a small, little touch and it didn’t even upset our cars, it was just a little thing. It’s hard racing at the end and I would expect him to do the same thing to me when he’s trying to win a race. We were going for it.”
HOW WAS IT RACING IN THE RAIN?
“I’m not very good at it. I don’t know. I was thinking I raced in Montreal once in the rain and ran decent in it and that was the first time any of ever raced in it. I think since then a lot of these guys have raced more in the rain and kind of figured out how to do it. I figured I had the best guy in front of me with AJ that I could just follow him and then I couldn’t follow him. All I was thinking was, ‘Man, I can probably push this thing harder and go faster, but we’re not gonna finish this race in the rain. Let’s just not crash my car at this point and try to keep it in one piece.’ That was the goal for me at that point was to try and have a solid finish in it, but I didn’t want to hurt my race car at that point because I knew we had a car that could win the race, so I was just trying to be smart, but it’s tempting. Every time a car goes by you, you kind of go, ‘Ahhh, I need to go a little harder,’ and every lap it gets a little drier so you go a little bit more and a little bit more and you’re just sliding all over. I don’t know. I told Wilson when the caution came out, ‘I don’t know what to tell you. It’s loose, but I think everybody is. There’s no grip.’ It’s amazing with those rain tires how much grip they gained. When we were driving around on slicks when it was pouring rain I was like, ‘I don’t know how we’re gonna do this,’ and then they put the rain tires on it and it gained a lot until it dried up and then they’re horrible in the dry. It was crazy to kind of go through that, but it was also fun.”
BRIAN WILSON, Crew Chief – WHAT WAS IT LIKE FOR YOU TO MAKE THOSE CALLS IN THE RAIN?
“A couple years ago I was in the rain race at Mid-Ohio and, really, I was just drawing on some of the guys at the shop who had been through it before. When we made the adjustments with Blaney a couple years ago, it seemed like it worked OK, so, really, I just applied the same offsets. That’s one nice thing, you think about all the depth that Team Penske has – we have a lot of sports car background and IndyCar, guys that have done it before – so you can kind of lean on those guys and know what to expect, but we certainly don’t have it perfected. The good news is I don’t think anyone really does.”
AUSTIN CINDRIC, No. 60 LTi Printing Ford Mustang
“It was self-inflicted today for at least a majority of my issues. Obviously, you’ve got to believe your primary is better than your backup. I know these guys work really, really hard week in and week out to not only get a really strong primary and try to have an equal backup, but I just didn’t meet expectations for today. I try not to set any, but I thought this was gonna be the day to break the curse, but we’ll keep going and keep racing hard. I’m just bummed that these guys work harder than any single team in this garage area and it hasn’t come to fruition yet, so I’m hoping to be that guy, but if it’s any of the other two guys I’m gonna be looking forward to when that day comes and I’ll be there celebrating with them.”
RYAN REED, No. 16 Drive Down A1C Lilly Diabetes Ford Mustang
“We started off not good. Our balance wasn’t very good in qualifying and I struggled just having no practice yesterday, so really just tried to get back to my rhythm all race long and keep the thing in one piece and let the race play out and not try to force anything. Then we put ourselves in position with some track position at the end and raced my guts out. We still have some things to work on. Our Ford Mustang was a lot better at the end, but we can still keep getting better, but I’m just really proud of everyone on the Drive Down A1C.com Ford because they did not give up. We were way, way, way off at the start of this deal and just kept digging. I’m proud of the effort.”
COLE CUSTER, No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang
“It wasn’t a good day, but we ended up good. I probably wasn’t doing my best and the car wasn’t the best from not practicing. It was just kind of a mess and with it raining and everything it was an eventful day. We found track position at the end and ended up good. HOW DID YOU LIKE RACING IN THE RAIN? “It sucked. I would never want to do it again because you can’t see anything. If you were out front, it was maybe alright, but you can’t do anything.”
KAZ GRALA, No. 61 DMB Financial Ford Mustang
“That race had a little bit of everything in it. I was excited to see the rain, but it was short-lived, unfortunately. I think we were OK today. We definitely have some work to do. The 61 DMB Financial Mustang was not bad, but it definitely leaves a little to be desired, so we can go back on it this week and see if we can work on it and get it a little bit better for Mid-Ohio. I think we just need a little bit more grip and a little bit more speed. We were weren’t real loose or real tight, just a little bit on top of the track, so some days you’ll have that. We’ll see if we can get it sorted out for next week, but I can’t thank DMB Financial and Fury Race Cars, Roush Fenway Racing and Ford Performance enough for letting me drive these races because they’re a lot of fun.” HOW WAS IT IN THE RAIN? “The driving part was fun, but the vision part was a little bit more challenging. If they can figure out a way to get us to see out of these cars in the rain it would be a blast.”
ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 98 Go Bowling Ford Mustang
“It was a solid day for us for our Go Bowling Ford Mustang. We had to go to the back and to the front and then the back and back to the front, but we had a solid car. We didn’t have anything. The 12 and 22 were lights-out and we were racing for third or fourth, but all in all it was a good day, but just didn’t have what we needed to go up there and compete for the win, but it was fun. I had a lot of fun and I feel like I learned a lot to get ready for the race tomorrow.” WHAT DID YOU LEARN FOR TOMORROW? “Just some things on the race track, curbs to use and just positioning myself, and restarts and where to be and where to try and take advantage of other cars on restarts. I feel like I learned probably a handful of things.”