Denny Hamlin said it, but perhaps Joey Logano knows it best: Sometimes breaks fall your way, and sometimes they don’t.
For Logano, two pit errors in as many weeks tempted fate a bit too much.
The first was a salvageable pit-box accident in Phoenix a week ago. But Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, a broken jack on a pit stop with fewer than 20 laps to go pushed Logano back to 29th place, and the driver ended the Ford EcoBoost 400 in 16th place, the last of all four Sprint Cup title contenders.
“It is unfortunate,” said Logano, who drove the No.22 Ford for Penske Racing. “Execution was our strong point all year, and we just didn’t do it [Sunday]. For that reason, we finished fourth after I think we scored the most points this whole Chase. We finished fourth in a season I feel we had a great championship run going. At the same time, we can’t hold our heads down.
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“It is frustrating after all that to say you finished fourth when I feel like this team deserved a lot better.”
The 24-year-old arrived in Homestead having executed a dominant season that included five Sprint Cup Series wins and 16 top-five finishes.
But the sub-par finish put Logano fourth in total points, behind the other three title contenders and just ahead of Penske teammate Brad Keselowski.
That his championship-caliber season counted for nothing in the end made the loss bitter for the driver whose disposition is usually well-suited for the Sunshine State.
“I am proud of [my team], but it is hard to be proud right now after coming home wherever we finished in this race,” Logano said. “I don’t even know what that is. I don’t even care. You don’t get shots at championships often; hopefully we get another next year. This car had a lot of wins and a lot of top fives, and it doesn’t mean a thing.”
Logano, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin ran at the front of the pack for most of the race Sunday, with Logano as a mainstay at second for a good chunk of the contest.
It was a collection of small things that killed Logano’s chances. He hit the wall about halfway through the race, and a lug nut came off of his wheel during a pit stop to push him back to eighth.
The result aside, Logano stressed the value of his season as good experience in building a championship bid.
Not even Michael Jordan’s presence could get Hamlin a Sprint Cup title Sunday.
Toward the end of the race, the basketball legend walked through the pit to cheer on Hamlin, who finished seventh. Jordan stood with two policemen in the midst of an iPhone camera-armed mob and fist pumped as Hamlin drove by.
“You know, it’s cool for him to take time out to come down here and show support, and like I say, he’s a friend, and we communicate on a weekly basis,” Hamlin said. “He’s a race fan, he’s just a huge race ran. … That’s awesome that a guy like that, that has accomplished so much, thinks so much to come down and support his friend at a NASCAR race.”