Logano angers Truex Jr. in victory
The NASCAR Camping World Truck series and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series both raced this past weekend at the tight paperclip shaped half-mile Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia.
The Xfinity series teams had a weekend off in their playoff races. They will be back in action Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway.
The first teams up were the trucks for the Texas Roadhouse 200, and they always put on a great short track show there. GMS Racing had their trucks on a rail. Veteran Johnny Sauter moved out to the early lead and won the first and second stages and the 20 bonus points toward the series title. He continued to be the class of the field, only briefly losing the lead when he pitted. He led a total of 184 of the possible 200 laps in taking the race victory and a guaranteed spot in the final four for the truck playoffs at Homestead. Brett Moffitt could keep him in sight but I feel that was more in Sauter’s control than Moffitt’s. Rookie standout Myatt Snider finished third in one of his best runs of the year. Ben Rhodes and Kyle Benjamin rounded out the top five. Even though Sauter was the class of the field there was great racing throughout the pack. The Truck series will be in action this coming Friday evening at the mile-and-a half Texas Motor Speedway as they move from the slowest track to one of the fastest speedways.
The Monster Energy Cup teams ran the first race — the First Data 500 — in the round of eight races toward the playoffs. A win locks that driver into the playoff finals at Homestead Miami Speedway later this month. There were 500 laps ahead and at least 1,000 opportunities to make a mistake that could cost you a shot at the Playoffs. Denny Hamlin took the early lead and captured stage one. Penske Racing driver Joey Logano flexed his muscles and took stage two. As strategies and plans played out in the final stage, Logano found himself in the race lead. Martin Truex Jr. was having his very best run on a short track and was cutting his way through the field on fresher tires than the leaders. With about 25 laps remaining, Truex Jr. worked his way past Denny Hamlin for third and set his sights on Logano. For approximately 15 laps these two put on a wonderful display of short track driving! They were literally side-by-side, lap-after-lap rubbing and touching but being respectful of each other. Truex Jr. made the pass complete with two laps to go and took the lead and appeared to be headed to his first short track win. Logano was not finished and was dogging Truex Jr. and working on his bumper. I personally feel that with so much at stake, Truex Jr. made the pass a little too early and put Logano in a place to steal the win. Entering the final set of turns, Logano nudged Truex Jr. up the track and slipped inside of him. Truex spun his tires off the corner and turned sideways into Logano and they beat and banged their way to the checkered flag. Denny Hamlin streaked up the inside and almost stole the win. When the smoke cleared Logano won and is locked into the playoff final four at Homestead. Hamlin finished second. A very angry Truex Jr. finished third and showed his displeasure by slamming into Logano on the back straightaway during the cool down lap. Kyle Busch finished fourth and Penske teammate Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five. In the victory lane interview, Logano explained that his team and sponsors pay him to win races and championships, not to make friends. Truex Jr. stood with his arms in the air and pointed both thumbs down during Logano’s interview. When he was interviewed he stated “I can promise you that HE will not win this Championship!” Truex Jr., who is the defending Monster Energy Cup champion, has had two races taken away within sight of the checkered flag. Jimmie Johnson crashed them both with a bonsai move to take the lead at the Roval race at Charlotte. Now Logano has kept him from winning not only his first short track race but more importantly a shot at the title. I doubt that those two will exchange Christmas cards this year.
Texas this weekend is race two of three elimination races leading up to Homestead and the winner, if it’s not Logano, will lock himself into the playoff!
Each and every bonus points and every lap will make a difference as the Playoff battle heats up. I’ll bring you all the action from Texas next week and remember at the end of those 200-mph Texas straightaways, there’s Another Left Turn!