DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Joey Logano looked poised for victory Sunday, taking a late lead, but was eventually bested by race-winner Christopher Bell (Toyota) coming to the white flag on the Daytona Road Course.
Logano led 10 laps, second-most of any driver en route to the runner-up finish.
Logano’s teammate Brad Keselowski finished 5th with Kevin Harvick 6th and Michael McDowell 8th to round out the top-10 Mustangs. For McDowell, the top-10 finish was a nice follow-up after his victory a week ago in the Daytona 500.
The other Team Penske entry, Ryan Blaney, ran strong early and ran into trouble late, eventually finishing 15th. Chris Buescher (11th) and Cole Custer (13th) also landed inside the top-15.
Chase Briscoe had a solid top-15 day going before contact led to the hood of his No. 14 Ford flipping up and covering the windshield. Briscoe was able to make his way around the track to pit road without incident and an eventual 32nd place finish.
The Cup Series returns next Sunday afternoon (3:30 pm ET) at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
NCS RACE TOP-10 FINISHERS
1st - Christopher Bell
2nd - Joey Logano
3rd - Denny Hamlin
4th - Kurth Busch
5th - Brad Keselowski
6th - Kevin Harvick
7th - AJ Allmendinger
8th - Michael McDowell
9th - Ryan Preece
10th - Alex Bowman
REMAINING FORD FINISHERS
11th -- Chris Buescher
13th -- Cole Custer
15th -- Ryan Blaney
17th -- Aric Almirola
20th -- Ryan Newman
22nd -- Anthony Alfredo
32nd -- Chase Briscoe
36th -- Josh Bilicki
37th -- Matt DiBenedetto
KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang
“There was lots of chaos. We had a pretty solid day and were a lot better. We missed all the chaos and finished the race. Our goal was to score stage points and we did that a couple of times. We also wanted to finish in the top 10 and we did that, so we’re gonna leave and go home.”
JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Mustang
“I was trying to keep him behind me. We gambled by staying out and then I’d say it paid off overall, but you just hate being so close and one lap away. He started catching me a second a lap and it wasn’t like I blew any corners or anything, he was just faster. We just got beat, plain and simple. We’ve got to get our long run speed faster. We made some gains and gotten better with our Shell/Pennzoil Mustang. We’ve just got to be able to find a way to keep our rear tires on these things on the road courses. We’ve identified the issue, now we can go to work.”
“He was the one that got through with tires. One more lap. One more caution lap would have been enough to at least have a door-to-door finish across the line maybe, I don’t know. It’s hard. When he starts catching you a second a lap. Gosh, I was just trying to get all I could on that restart, trying to get out there as far as I could because I knew as soon as those guys with tires were gonna catch us really quick, but we’ve made gains with our Shell/Pennzoil Mustang on road courses, but we’re not quite good enough yet. As you can tell, our long run speed is off. We’ve got to keep working to get that better, but we maximized the day. I hate being that close, but congratulations to Christopher. It’s his first win and I know that means a lot. It’s always a special one, so I’m happy for him, but no so happy for myself at the moment.”
BRAD KESELOWSKi, No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang
“It was a front, back, front, back kind of race, but the Discount Tire Ford Mustang and the entire team, we just didn’t give up and kept working on it. Eventually, the race came to us. We caught some breaks for sure and made the most of it.”
KESELOWSKI POST-RACE ZOOM TRANSCRIPT
HOW DID YOU GET TO FIFTH?
“It was just one of those never-give-up kind of races. We just fought and fought and fought and just made some mistakes, caught some bad breaks, kind of all threw together. But, in the end, just a lot of perseverance, a lot of heart, a lot of will from the entire team and put us in a good spot there at the end, so tried to make the most of it. We’re not where we need to be on these types of tracks, but we’re not gonna accept that and just run 15th-20th, we’re gonna fight our butt off and I think that’s what we did today.”
DID YOU THINK YOU HAD A SHOT AT A TOP FIVE AFTER THE START?
“It didn’t seem to matter what I’d do. If I saved the tires, we’d just get ran over from behind. If I’d run them hard, they’d lock up so it was just frustrating. In the end, we put ourselves in position for something good to happen to us and it did, and I’m really proud of that.”
HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE YOUR MEETING WITH JOEY EARLIER TODAY AND DO YOU THINK YOU PUT LAST WEEK BEHIND YOU?
“I don’t really think that what happened at Daytona, the big track, has anything to do with most of the rest of the season. The speedway races are their own animal and there’s something to be learned from last weekend and hopefully we’ll learn it.”
HOW DO YOU WANT TO SEE ROAD RACES OFFICIATED? WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE LOCAL YELLOWS? WHAT’S THE RIGHT SOLUTION?
“I think the tough part here is the reality is a stock car is not meant to race on a road course and there are some compromises that are made across the board. There’s some limitations that come with that, not just for how the drivers drive the car, but with how NASCAR officiates the race. I think part of what people love about watching us race on road courses is the fact that the cars drive so incredibly awful bad that it can sometimes make for a very compelling race because there are a ton of mistakes. I think normally you don’t see that at most types of NASCAR racing, so with that in mind the cars not being made for the track, there are some considerations that NASCAR has to make that I’m sure they would rather not make, but with the cars not being made for this type of track, any little issue is magnified and multiplied, so that means NASCAR has to officiate the race, I think, differently than all of us would like, but it’s kind of part of the trade off in my mind for running on a road course. The alternative is we could go back and run more short tracks. I think I would be OK with that, but as of now that’s not the way the pendulum has swung and we’ll have to reap what we sow.”
DID THE RAIN AFFECT THE TRACK AT ALL?
“No, I could definitely tell it was raining pretty hard a couple of times. The track might have got wet, but we were OK.”
HOW WOULD YOU CATEGORIZE THE LEVEL OF AGGRESSION OUT THERE TODAY?
“It was pretty high, but it should be. It’s a race. It’s early in the season. Everybody still feels pretty good about themselves and thinking they’ve made changes in the offseason to be better and they’re gonna try to see it play out. I totally get it. I totally get it.”
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DAY?
“There was a good point in the day where a top-15 was looking pretty darn good, so to end up with a top-five I’m super proud of it, but, as proud as I am to run fifth I’m hopeful that we can work on our cars and get ourselves to where we can win these types of races. We’ve been in position to do that in the past. We’re quite a ways off of realistically being able to challenge for wins right now with all of the Penske cars, and we have work to do.”
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE RELATIONSHIP WITH JOEY RIGHT NOW AFTER LAST WEEK AND GOING FORWARD?
“Certainly it’s not a high coming off of last weekend, but it’s not the end of the world.”
ARE YOU GUYS GOOD?
“We’re as good as we can be.”
WITH TWO GUYS GETTING WINS THAT MAY BE UNEXPECTED, DO YOU START LOOKING AT PLAYOFFS? DOES IT CHANGE THE DYNAMIC?
“The dynamic has changed dramatically right now. We’re very early in the season and it’s now turned into a points race for those last few spots. Hopefully it doesn’t matter for us. I think that we’ll be able to go to Richmond and Martinsville and some of those tracks and contend for the win and hopefully bring home wins, but if you don’t win, you’re in a lot of trouble right now because it’s not looking like you’re gonna be able to get in the playoffs right now without a win.”
MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 34 FR8 Auction Ford Mustang
“That was way too much excitement for me. The FR8 Auction Ford Mustang was actually really good. We had a flat tire there coming to the green. I knew something was wrong. I should have just pitted, so I screwed that up and that hurt us a little bit. We lost track position and then missed the chicane. Pretty much everything that could go wrong went wrong today, but this is what our team is all about -- Front Row Motorsports -- we grind it out and we fought hard. We just kept the fight in it and ended up with another top 10, so pretty crazy how that all went down. It was another great run. I’m really excited to keep this momentum going. We’ve got to clean it up a little bit, but not a bad night altogether.”
CHRIS BUESCHER, No. 17 Fastenal Ford Mustang
“Overall, I was pretty happy with our Fastenal Mustang. This has been a really good road course for us. I think a lot of things we learned from the Clash got a lot better, so I was real proud of that. I think I need to clean up a few things on my end, and need the field to clean up a few things on their end and that really changes our day a good amount. At the end of the day we were able to salvage a decent day out of it, a decent finish, especially after last week being a rough start to the season. I’m proud of everybody. I’m ready to do a little bit more road racing this season for sure. I feel pretty confident we’re gonna be competitive at all of them.”
ANTHONY ALFREDO, No. 38 The Pete Store Ford Mustang
“We had a really solid Pete Store Ford Mustang. Unfortunately when they stacked up in turn 1 on one of the restarts we got pushed into it and got a little nose damage. It didn’t hurt temperatures or anything like that but did slow us down a little in the high speed sections. We ended up cutting a left front tire down. The crew did a good job clearing the tire and we fought hard to get the lucky dog so we could battle back in the last 15 laps and salvate a top-25. We got a little more damage in those last 15 laps but we were able to make it work.”
HOW ABOUT THOSE FINAL RESTARTS?
“I had a feeling we were going to stack up like that on the restarts at the end. Honestly they were hectic from the start. I couldn’t believe they kept making it through 1, 2 and 3 earlier in the race. I was trying to take it easy. We had just gotten the lucky dog and there was no reason to go wild there. Once we were around the 14, that was one of the only things we were battling for there other than a top-20 which we weren’t quite close enough to get. It was hectic but we did our best to stay out of trouble and make the most of our day.”