FORT WORTH, Texas — With less than one mile remaining in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Duck Commander 500 on Monday, Joey Logano was storming toward a victory when an awful sight interrupted his enjoyment.
A yellow flag. The third Kurt Busch-driven caution of the day, this time for the always popular “debris on the track.”
“You’re like ‘Please no caution, please no caution,’ and of course it comes out,” Logano said. “You’ve got to be kidding me. You get so mad that you can barely control yourself.”
Logano put himself back together in time to make the most of the type of late drama that NASCAR envisioned when it launched the win-and-get-in format to the Chase for the Sprint Cup. After crew chiefs placed their bets on the re-start, Logano passed Jeff Gordon on the final lap for the victory at Texas Motor Speedway.
“Joey was the class of the field in the second half of the race,” Gordon said.
With the victory, Logano became the seventh driver to win in seven races this season. More important, Logano put himself in prime position to qualify for the Chase. The top 15 for wins go into the Chase.
Logano’s sense of relief was tangible.
“You can start getting your ducks in a row for Chase time, make sure you’re ready for then. You’re not playing on the back side of your foot, trying to win a race a couple of races before Richmond,” Logano said of the regular-season finale. “You feel a little bit more comfortable now than what we would have been.”
The leaders all pitted in the advance of the race-ending two-dash lap. Gordon’s crew chief, Alan Gustafson, went with two tires for a quicker stop that would put the No. 24 Chevrolet in the lead coming out of the pits. The risk was that cars with four new tires would have better speed.
Gustafson tried four tires for a similar re-start at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., two weeks ago. Gordon finished 13th despite having the best car in the field.
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