Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Joey Logano got his guns with win in rain-postponed Duck Commander 500 at Texas

Credit: Boyd Adams, courtesy of  Rubbingsracing.com
Sprint Cup Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway has everything a kid who grew up dreaming of being a race car driver could imagine a win in the Lone Star state would have. The winner's name in lights, flames, confetti (Texas-shaped, of course), a cool trophy, a cowboy hat, a ring and the iconic pair of pistols that the driver gets to shoot as photographers snap photos. 

This year, the Duck Dynasty added a duck call to the swag.   

When Joey Logano won the Duck Commander 500 on Monday — the race postponed because of rain and track-drying issues Sunday — one of the first things he asked was, "Where are the guns?" 

In earning his fourth Cup win and becoming the seventh different winner in seven races this 2014 season, Logano also became the youngest winner of a Cup event in the history of Texas Motor Speedway. He currently holds the record for youngest driver to win a Cup race, but that was way back in 2009. 

With five full seasons of Cup racing behind him, for him to be the youngest to win at any track now just seems odd, and is a reminder of how young he was when he inherited the team two-time Cup champion and larger-than-life personality Tony Stewart vacated. 

Finally, Logano appears to be emerging as the skilled driver he was touted to be when he earned the nickname "Sliced Bread." With the exception of Daytona, he's been a threat for the pole every week, and he's now got four top fives in seven races, including this win. 

Logano led three times for a race-high 108 laps. He seemed to have the race well in hand when he took the lead on Lap 302, keeping Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson behind him with ease. 

In post-race, Logano recapped the end of the race. 

"When you got like 40-something laps after the last pit stop, you got a pretty sizable lead, really all you're thinking is, 'Where is the white flag? Where is the white flag?'" said Logano. "Brad was able to catch us a little bit. Then you go into Turn One, you see the 41 up against the wall. You're like, 'Please, no caution; please, no caution.' Boom, it comes out. You got to be kidding me.

"You get so mad you barely can control yourself — at least for me. I had to make sure I stayed calm and tried to give Todd the information I needed to, then he had to make the right call. Really, I was so mad, I didn't really tell him what the car did until I was coming down pit road. He made a last‑minute decision to put fuel in it because I heard, 'No fuel, no fuel.' I was like, 'No, no, no, I was tight.' He made the right decision at the last minute to put fuel in the car, give me a better balance for what I needed, the guys made the money stop, put us out as the first car with four tires on, restarted third.

"At that point I got Kyle Busch on the outside of me. I know he's very aggressive on restarts, very good on restarts. My number one goal at that point was try to figure out how he doesn't get clean air and get out to the front. I had to make sure he didn't stick it three‑wide, get in the middle, do something like that."

"The 24 was lucky enough to have a good enough restart with his older tires.  I was able to follow him through, get a second, get a run off of four, cross him over, get the lead. Then we get the win."

"Just awesome. We've been in contention every race this year to win these things. To get the Shell‑Pennzoil Ford in Victory Lane, it means a lot. It's such a tough racetrack. We have had plenty of time to think about this the last couple days.  Pretty cool place to win.  I got a ring, guns, a trophy, a hat, a duck call. That's pretty cool," said Logano. 

Credit: Boyd Adams, courtesy of  Rubbingsracing.com
Jeff Gordon, whose No. 24 carried the maroon and white of Texas A&M, wound up second after a two-tire stop. "I feel very fortunate to finish second. Joey was the class of the field there the second half of the race. I knew it was going to be hard to hold those guys off."  

Coming home in third, Kyle Busch said, "The Penske cars, I went by one of them in one run like he was standing still, then he went by me in the next run like I was standing still. Kind of crazy the way that happened. They come out of nowhere and took off the last 70 laps, 80 laps, whatever it was. They were going to be tough to beat." 

Brian Vickers also gambled on two tires. "It’s great to get a top-five here.  Just really proud of the effort. We probably didn’t have a car to win, but we made the most of it. We’ll learn from this and we’ll move on to the next race and we gave it our best there at the end.”

The highest-finishing rookie, Kyle Larson, continues to impress, filling out the top five. "There down the backstretch with Kyle and Biffle, the 55, we all had a good run there. I helped Kyle (Busch) kind of get past the 16 a little bit. I had to drag race 55 back to the line. He edged me out there," explained Larson. 

"It was exciting, I thought. Like I said, not quite as crazy as California, but still green‑white‑checkereds are still pretty wild." 

Pre-race favorites Dale Earnhardt Jr, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick all had issues that took them out of race contention. 

 Earnhardt Jr. clipped the soaked sod of the infield with the splitter, tearing up the front end of the No. 88, sending him into the outside wall, then careening into the inside wall, car in flames. Johnson was behind him and caught a windshield full of debris and never quite overcame the damage. Harvick's No. 4 blew an engine, taking him out of the race on Lap 28.

For the complete finishing order, click here

Earnhardt Jr.'s 43rd-place finish dropped him from first to sixth in points. Gordon took over the points lead for the first time since 2009. For the full points report, click here


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