Monday, October 19, 2015

Right Sides Only: Notes from Hollywood Casino 400 Winning Crew Chief, Todd Gordon

In the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway, Joey Logano's racing philosophy may have been to simply let the chips fall where they may.

Though the No. 22 team didn't need a win to advance into the Eliminator round because they'd already secured a spot with a win last week, the driver did whatever was necessary to snag another victory, including spinning Matt Kenseth in the closing laps.

Crew chief Todd Gordon described the late-race bump-and-pass as a product of great racing.

"I saw two guys racing their butts off. You know, Joey had a couple runs at Matt and Matt blocked both of them and unfortunately got us in the wall into Turn 1 and there's more contact that prevails beyond the contact to the wall. That's just hard racing, two guys that want to win, and ... Joey has talked about it, they're both very competitive race car drivers and they do a lot of similar things, and neither one of them was going to give there, and obviously it came out the way it did," Gordon explained.

Did Gordon alter the team's strategy since they didn't actually have the speed that others had throughout the race?

"We build our race cars to do that. You have to look at the end of the race and checkered flag and race your race backwards. I think we understand how we need to make our cars to be successful on that last stint and how our cars need to be for the whole race.
            
"Honestly, we didn't have the speed the 48 or 20 had in the middle of the race. Had a tire come apart, actually, and fell back a little ways," he said. "But definitely had a strategy for how we wanted to end the race, and when the caution comes, and we're able to play that strategy and definitely find speed in our race car.

Credit: Charlotte Bray for Skirts and Scuffs
"I think the thing that you look at is we understand what we have to feel in our race car. Joey does a phenomenal job of it, of what we need to feel in a race car in practice to be successful come race time, because you really don't ever get to race the line. The track widens up come race time, and there are some things that happen with the track, and once you know what that offset is and what you're looking for in practice to be successful, you look for those things. We felt really good about our car yesterday. We had speed, but we had the balance that we needed to have to have a good race, and it played out again," Gordon explained.

He also discussed the team's unique position to lock out other teams since they've won consecutive races during a single round, a feat not previously achieved since the new Chase format was implemented.

"We talked about it at the team meeting ahead of time and we've talked about it all week because the opportunity after you win Charlotte is that winners go on, and if you can go ahead and lock everybody else out, it puts everybody else that's a Chase contender on edge going to Talladega. It's a great advantage. We'll take what we can. I haven't had a Chase race at Talladega needing to perform there with a win here last year, and this team has done a great job of making sure that everybody else has to," Gordon said.

On edge at Talladega? That isn't exactly a place where a driver wants to be "on edge." Rest assured that at least 11 other drivers will want to make sure that Logano's advantage means nothing as the teams head to their final restrictor-plate race of the season. Hang on, fans. It's going to be a bumpy ride!

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   Stacey Owens lives just outside Music City USA. She's always wanted to be a NASCAR writer, so working as a columnist and support editor for Skirts and Scuffs allows her to live that dream every single weekend.
    The sole NASCAR enthusiast in her home, she's hopeful that one of her three daughters might also harbor an appreciation for NASCAR, but it isn't looking good so far.
    Her other interests include country music, though she can't carry a tune; collegiate football, though she needs a lot of work on her spiral; and Kentucky basketball, even though at 6' tall, she's never played a day in her life.

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