Joey Logano said that a vibration on his No. 22 Ford cost him a championship the last time out at the Phoenix Raceway. The Team Penske driver led 125 of the 312 laps in the Championship decider last November but a vibration took away his speed/advantage as he would finish third in the end.
On Sunday, Logano dominated again. He led a race-high 143 of 312 laps, but yet again, he wasn’t the one celebrating in victory lane.
Logano, had a vibration late again but this time said that the vibration didn’t ruin his chances of winning. Martin Truex Jr. was just that much better and got a great launch on the outside lane in his No. 19 Toyota. He stayed with him and then cleared him by time we got to the start/finish line a lap later. He’d set his sail and never look back en route to his 28th career Cup Series victory.
“It’s frustrating in some ways, and in other ways you got to look at the positives and move forward,” Logano said after leading the most laps again but not winning in Phoenix. “I’m usually the one that’s going to probably beat myself up a little bit on the parts where we missed it, but the positives will keep the momentum going. We need to just move on after we figure out where we made mistakes today.
“As far as positives, boy, I couldn’t be more prouder of our pit crew today. They’re animals. That’s great. They really kept us in the race when we started to lose a little bit of handling in our car. I’m not even sure if we were a few balance adjustments off of beating the 19. He was fast. Really, like I said earlier, it started to show the end of the second stage where he ran us down from 4 seconds. He’s going to be really quick.
“I was just hoping on the short run maybe I could get him on the short run there. But once he got out a second ahead of me, he went to cruise control and started saving his stuff.
“Like I said, we’re just not fast enough right now. That’s probably the biggest thing that stands out. We were able to get our balance pretty close after the second run of the race. Just seemed like the 19, even the 11 at times, just were able to roll in more speed, have more grip to still be able to turn. Just had more overall, so…
“That’s a hard thing to find, by the way (laughter).”
Logano, ended up finishing 1.698-seconds back for his second runner-up in the last four weeks. He said the decision to restart on the lower lane wasn’t necessarily a bad choice though. That’s because it’s paid off for him literally every other time when he was in the lead and restarted on the bottom lane prior.
“I chose the bottom because I’ve chose the bottom every time I’ve been the leader, and it’s worked every single time,” Logano said on why he chose the inside lane for the final restart. “I was batting a thousand on the bottom the last, I don’t know, two years here. I was kind of actually surprised that Truex was still out there. Felt like I created enough distance down there on the bottom shortcut in the dogleg that typically I can have someone at my quarter to where I can control them.
“Looked down, gosh, he’s still door-to-door with me. Their car accelerated really well, surprisingly well. Didn’t see that one coming.
“They just had a fast car all the way through. They had a fast car from the get-go. Once they tuned it in the end of the second stage, they were lights out.
“To be honest with you, I’m not sure even if we got in front of him in that last restart, I’m not sure I’d have been able to hold him off or not. Would have been a hell of a battle. He probably would have gotten me eventually.”
What concerns Logano is that the vibration keeps coming back in Phoenix and that he’s not sure why. That’s keeping him up and concerned because he can’t afford to allow that to come back again this November.
“Yeah, definitely keeping me up right now,” Logano said of the vibration again. “I wish I knew what it is. A lot of times you change the tires, it goes away. It’s not a loose wheel. We don’t believe it’s a misbalanced tire or wheel either. Not sure what it is.
“When it happens, the lights shut off for a little bit and the car goes backwards quickly. It cost us a championship. It didn’t cost us the race today, but we lost some track position in the beginning of the final stage here.
“I don’t know. I wish I knew what the answer was on that. I don’t know. Maybe we can take a look at it, cut the tire apart. I don’t know how you fix it. I’m not a tire engineer. I don’t know if it’s consistent through the field, if other cars have the issues or not. I know a lot of cars had it in the fall race. I know my teammate had it in the fall race as well.
“Just something we need to look into, at least try to find the answer. I don’t know if we have the capability to fix that. I think it might be out of our hands. At least try to help find it.”