Joey Logano: These guys are good – and get­ting bet­ter

Cecil Whig - - NATIONAL & LOCAL SPORTS - By REID SPENCER

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

SONOMA, CALIF.

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.”

BLAINE OHIGASHI

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.

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