11 June 2012
Logano pushes Martin aside for Pocono win
Logano and Martin were still in charge at the next restart on lap 143, and at the next on lap 152 following a brief debris caution triggered by a piece of metal located in turn 2. By now, after a variety of late pit stop Hail Marys had played out, their closest challengers were Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer for the final uninterrupted eight lap dash to the green flag.
All of Mark Martin's formidable racing experience told him that this was the crucial moment, and he floored it - pulling out a comfortable five car-length lead over Logano within two laps. Then he had a moment on the inside of turn 3 next time around that allowed Logano to close back up again, and it was the youngster's turn to make his play for the win. It ended up being what Martin referred to as a "bump-and-run" move by Logano who used his bumper to throw the veteran off his rhythm for a critical edge.
"It's not how I would have done it, but certainly if I'd have had a fast enough car, he would have gotten a return. But I couldn't quite keep up with him," he admitted. He added that he didn't think Logano had done anything wrong with his overtaking move: "It has been acceptable in this racing for a long time."
Logano didn't quite agree that it was a genuine intentional bump-and-run move, however.
"Went into 1 and I tried to out-brake him, and he was protecting the bottom," Logano explained. "I was trying to stick my nose in there, and we got really close, and I'm not even sure if we touched each other or not, but I know I got him air-loose at least and able to slide up underneath him and clear him by the time he got off of 1."
"Well, I'd call that a bump-and-run," said Martin, known for his clean racing don the years and not one to look kindly on "grey area" moves.
Whatever it was, it worked out for Logano: once past Martin down the front stretch on lap 156 he sailed off into the lead, finally clinching the chequered flag by almost a second. Martin was equally safe from the attentions of Tony Stewart in third who had his hands full of a late-charging Jimmie Johnson taking fourth place ahead of Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer.
It's only Logano's second win in Cup competition in five years at the senior level, something of a disappointment for the driver nicknamed "Sliced Bread" (as in, "the greatest thing since") because of his astounding achievement of winning the Nationwide Series race winner aged 18 back in 2008 - ironically it had been Mark Martin who was one of the first Cup drivers to point him out as a future world champion as long ago as 2006. He's got 13 Nationwide wins in 98 series starts, compared to just two now at Cup level in 125 starts.
"Not to take anything away from that - those Nationwide wins are a lot of fun," said Logano."[But] when you're racing against the best race car drivers with the best race teams out there, and to be able to beat them, it's to me the best of the best out here."
Logano is hoping that this weekend's win will put paid to the naysayers who say he came into Cup competition too young, that he's overrated, that he isn't making the grade. He had his veteran crew chief Greg Zipadelli quit over the close season, suffered concerns about the ongoing sponsorship of the #20 in his hands, and had to endure rumours last year that Joe Gibbs Racing were courting Carl Edwards to replace him at the wheel when Logano's contract expires at the end of the current season.
"I hope it shuts 'em all up," said Logano succinctly.
In the Cup championship stakes, Biffle's engine problems means that he loses the points lead to his team mate Keneth, with Earnhardt also slipping in front of him for second place.
Tagged as: Marcos Ambrose , Mark Martin , Tony Stewart , Joey Logano , Matt Kenseth , Greg Biffle , Brad Keselowski , Jimmie Johnson , Pocono , Jamie McMurray , Denny Hamlin , Dale Earnhardt Jr.
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