Joey Logano: These guys are good – and getting better
NASCAR Wire Service
— Sunday’s Toyota/ Save Mart 350 wasn’t the knockdown, drag-out free-for-all fans have come to expect at Sonoma Raceway in recent years, although it did peg the drama meter with race winner Tony Stewart’s last-lap duel with runner-up Denny Hamlin.
Third-place finisher Joey Logano has an explanation why drivers didn’t rough each other up on Sunday. Quite simply, they’re getting the hang of road course racing.
“In all honesty I think it’s because everyone is getting better,” Logano said after the race. “A lot of the crashes in the past have been because the cars are wheel-hopping into the corner and they can’t stop and they hit somebody. Most of the time that’s what it is. There’s still plenty of contact, but everybody has gotten better at this road course racing – not just drivers, but race teams and getting their cars better and their brakes better and the setups better.
“Not that the cars have become easier to drive. They’re still very challenging to drive here, but it seems like we’ve all gotten better and know how to handle a lot of the situations on the race track and all have learned how to race a little bit
better out here. Like I said, there’s still plenty of contact and bumping and banging. My car is hit on each corner, but it definitely was a fun race and it’s always been a fun race here at Sonoma.”
In particular, Logano had fun over the final 14 laps when he charged from sixth to third after a restart and enjoyed a front-row seat for the decisive battle between Stewart and Hamlin on the final lap.
Another frustrating day for AJ Allmendinger
The same old song has become painfully familiar to AJ Allmendinger.
In 2014, the driver of the No. 47 JTG/Daugherty Racing Chevrolet started second at Sonoma Raceway, led 35 laps – and finished 37th, two laps down.
Last year, Allmendinger started on the pole and came home 37th again.
Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 brought another second-place start, and again the race fell apart for the Californian driver.
After pit stops on Lap 88 of 110, Allmendinger was poised to restart sixth, hoping to claim victory and gain entry into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. During the stop, however, his team incurred a penalty for an uncontrolled tire, and Allmendinger took the green flag on Lap 91 at the tail end of the field.
“I thought, whatever it was, 25 to go, we were coming,” said Allmendinger, who led 20 laps early and ultimately worked his way up to 14th at the finish. “So in the end, just a bad pit stop and let the tire get away and penalty.
“That took away our chance to win the race. Overall, I thought the car was pretty good. It was for sure a top-three, top-four car. We just needed to be up there at the end, and we weren’t.”
The road course ace tried his best to adopt a philosophical attitude after losing what may have been his best chance to qualify for the Chase.
“It’s racing,” Allmendinger said. “You know you are not guaranteed anything until the checkered flag. It’s part of life – we win and lose as a team.
“We have to get our stuff straight if we actually want to be a Chase team and consider ourselves a Chase team.”
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Code 3 Assoc/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, celebrates with his crew after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday in Sonoma, Calif.