Sunday, May 18, 2014

CUP: Fan Favorite Wise Survives While Logano Gets First All-Star Last-Place Finish

Joey Logano finished last in Saturday’s 30th NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway when his #22 Shell / Pennzoil Ford was involved in a two-car accident after he completed 25 of the race’s 90 laps.

This is the first All-Star last-place finish for Logano and the #22 Penske Racing team.  Penske’s #2 car has three last-place runs in the event, one for each of its drivers: Rusty Wallace (2002), Kurt Busch (2006), and Brad Keselowski (2013).

Logano qualified for the All-Star Race by virtue of his win last August at Michigan.  Since then, he has become one of the series’ most consistent front runners.  He picked up five more Top Fives between his Michigan win and the end of the 2013 season, then began 2014 with six more, including a pair of wins at Texas and Richmond.  In just 11 races, he has qualified inside the Top Ten in all but three of those events, and he has led 447 laps - more than 100 laps over his season total in 2013.

Logano timed in 15th during the final practice session for the event, then once again turned in a solid qualifying performance for the 10th starting spot.

In Saturday’s race, last place belonged first to David Ragan, who started 20th in the 22-car field in his Taco Bell #34.  By the end of the first segment, that spot went to surprise Fan Vote winner Josh Wise in his #98 Dogecoin Digital Currency / Chevrolet.  At the start of Segment 2, Tony Stewart, who had blown his transmission in qualifying, briefly held the last spot when trouble broke out on Lap 25.

Heading into Turn 3, Segment 1 winner Kyle Busch nudged Clint Bowyer’s Toyota, causing Bowyer to wash down the track.  Kyle tried to pass down low, but was clipped by Bowyer, sending him spinning into the outside wall.  Busch slid back into traffic, and Joey Logano had nowhere to go, resulting in a crash similar to one that occurred between the same drivers last spring at Kansas.  Logano managed to roll back into the garage area, but both were done for the night.

Logano’s involvement in the wreck narrowly prevented Busch from scoring his second last-place finish in the event, joining his engine failure in 2008.  That finish remains the only time a last-place finisher of the All-Star Race ever led any laps in the same event.

Rounding out the Bottom Five were A.J. Allmendinger, who made the field with a 2nd-place finish in the Showdown only to be wrecked during a battle on the restart following the Logano / Busch crash, then Greg Biffle and Martin Truex, Jr., who both wrecked when Jeff Gordon’s car suddenly slowed in front of them leaving turns three and four.

Just as he had at Talladega, Josh Wise avoided all the night’s wrecks and brought his #98 home in 15th.  Plans are already underway to get Wise into the fall race at Talladega by way of selling uniform t-shirts.  Click this link for more details - as of this writing, the effort is 78% funded with six days to go.  Yours truly is one of the backers.

*This is the third-consecutive last-place finish for Ford in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, joining teammate Brad Keselowski (2013) and Roush-Fenway’s Carl Edwards (2012).
*The #22 had never before finished last in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.

22) #22-Joey Logano / 25 laps / crash
21) #18-Kyle Busch / 25 laps / crash / led 11 laps
20) #47-A.J. Allmendinger / 30 laps / crash
19) #16-Greg Biffle / 60 laps / crash
18) #78-Martin Truex, Jr. / 60 laps / crash

1st) Carl Edwards, Kyle Petty, Greg Sacks, Rusty Wallace (2)
2nd) John Andretti, Johnny Benson, Jr., Greg Biffle, Geoffrey Bodine, Neil Bonnett, Jeff Burton, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Ricky Craven, Bobby Hamilton, Kevin Harvick, Ernie Irvan, Kasey Kahne, Brad Keselowski, Alan Kulwicki, Bobby Labonte, Terry Labonte, Joey Logano, Ricky Rudd, Ken Schrader, Hut Stricklin, Martin Truex, Jr. (1)

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