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Logano went from victory to despair at Pocono

August 07, 2011, Mark Aumann, NASCAR.com

LONG POND, Pa. -- Clear skies took away victory; Montoya-Kahne crash debris took away top-five

When the rains came with 76 laps to go in Sunday at Pocono Raceway -- with his No. 20 Toyota sitting prettily at the front of the field -- Joey Logano attempted to curry favor with the weather gods. Perhaps he should have paid more attention to the racing gods, instead.

Not only did the rain stop and the skies clear, allowing the Good Sam RV Insurance 500 to run the entire 500 miles, but Logano's luck turned from great to horrible. Sitting sixth with 15 laps to go, Logano ran over debris at the drop of the green on the race's final restart and cut his right rear tire.

"I'm not going to hang my head and be miserable over something on the race track I can't control. If it was something that we did and made a bad call, it would be different than that. But right now, we learn."

--GREG ZIPADELLI

With his car fading rapidly through the field, Logano was called onto pit road by crew chief Greg Zipadelli for a replacement. By the time he returned, Logano was a distant 26th, the last car on the lead lap at race's end.

A frustrated Logano was in no mood to talk after climbing from the car, but Zipadelli was willing to explain what happened.

"We just got a flat," Zipadelli said. "We must have run over something on the race track. I don't know, you can't predict that.

"Obviously, we needed air in that right rear. It had a cut in it. When we came in, it only had eight pounds in it. It was definitely going down."

When the race restarted after a 100-minute rain delay, Logano faded a bit to sixth. But Zipadelli felt staying on the track after Juan Montoya and Kasey Kahne brought out the caution on Lap 180 was the correct call.

And he was proven right when Ryan Newman was the only car who pitted for fresh rubber who was able to work his way into the top five in the closing laps.

"I thought we made the right call by staying out," Zipadelli said. "It wasn't like the guys that took tires passed anybody. We had a good car, we had a better car on the longer run. We kind of needed that restart to get bunched back up."

Despite failing to result in a good finish, it was Zipadelli's second great decision of the day. His first came on Lap 101, when he went against convention and decided to go with right-side tires only, putting Logano in front with clean air. And it paid dividends when Logano held the advantage on the restart until it began to rain 21 laps later.

Even after the race restarted, Zipadelli felt like his car was good enough to contend.

"I think the race track changed a bit, but it was starting to come back to where it was," Zipadelli said. "Right before that yellow came out [on Lap 180], our lap times were pretty good and we were catching some of the guys in front of us. For us, we were just hoping it would go green."

Logano wasn't the only driver who suffered misfortune because the race wasn't declared a washout. Teammate Denny Hamlin was third when the rains came, but the No. 11 had a lug nut issue on his final pit stop and wound up 15th. And Clint Bowyer went from seventh at the red flag to 18th at the checkered.

On the other hand, there were several drivers pleased as punch to have a second chance. Winner Brad Keselowski picked up 22 positions and Dodge teammate Kurt Busch 23, while Tony Stewart not only got the free pass to get back on the lead lap because of the rain but rallied to finish 11th, a gain of 17 spots.

While it may take Logano some time to shake off the disappointment, Zipadelli could see the silver lining in an otherwise gloomy finish.

"I'm going to get on a plane and go home, get up at 4:45 a.m. and go to work, just like I do the other 355 days of the year, you know?" Zipadelli said. "What can you do? We did all we could. We sat on the pole, we led a bunch of laps, we had a very respectable top-five car, I think one of our better performances in the last two and a half years.

"I'm not going to hang my head and be miserable over something on the race track I can't control. If it was something that we did and made a bad call, it would be different than that. But right now, we learn.

"The last thing I want to do is walk out of here with a bad attitude and kill the momentum that we've had in the last six to eight weeks."

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