Coca-Cola Racing Family roundup: Kentucky
July 01, 2013, Staff report, NASCAR.com
Although no one from the six-member family ended up in Victory Lane, Joey Logano continued his strong streak and carried the banner for his brethren.
Logano finished fourth, avoiding myriad of incidents in his best finish since Richmond in the ninth race of the season (he finished third there).
Ryan Newman rounded out the top-15 team effort with a 14th-place effort.
A roundup on the Coca-Cola Racing Family in order of how they finished at Kentucky:
Joey Logano (No. 22)
Penske Racing, Ford
Recap: Make it six in a row. Logano recorded his sixth consecutive top-11 finish at Kentucky by finishing fourth; and five of those showings were top-10s. Without a win and hindered by a 25-point penalty from earlier this season, Logano has gained eight spots in the standings over the past two months. He currently has a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Quotable: “I felt like we were good enough to win for a little bit. I thought we were as good as the 20 (Matt Kenseth) or even better. It is all about getting the clean air. It was hard to pass out there. The guys did a great job with the Shell Pennzoil Ford. We lost track position on the restart before the last one and then we made up a lot at the end. We were sitting pretty in fourth when the caution came out and that usually puts you second or third at first. I was hoping for one more caution because I thought I was in the cat-bird seat if that happened.”
His standing: Logano is 10th in the standings with 479 points.
Outlook: Logano displayed a good bit of driving in the season-opening Daytona 500, avoiding a few of the “Big Ones” and finishing in 19th place. It’s impossible to predict what will happen at Daytona, but no one has more momentum than Logano right now.
Ryan Newman (No. 39)
Stewart-Haas Racing, Chevrolet
Recap: Pit strategy put Newman in the top 10 by the end of the race, but he couldn’t keep that standing. Still, a 14th-place showing at Kentucky isn’t at all bad -- in fact, it’s 20 places higher than his result last year.
Quotable: “We had a really good Quicken Loans Chevrolet at the end of the race. With the car being set up for racing at night, we were obviously off a bit, setup-wise. We weren’t alone in that, as everyone was dealt the same hand. But at the end, we had the car where I felt it was capable of bringing home at least a top-10 finish. It’s unfortunate ... we know we probably had a better finish coming than we were left with.”
His standing: Newman is 18th in the standings with 448 points.
Outlook: The summer race at Daytona marks the halfway point of the NASCAR season. It’s the 18th race of 36, the first 26 of which count toward the Chase standings. Newman has the veteran makeup to contend at Daytona, where he has two consecutive top-fives dating back to the 2012 summer race.
Tony Stewart (No. 14)
Stewart-Haas Racing, Chevrolet
Recap: Stewart struggled for the second consecutive race, but he still has a win to fall back on. That will come more and more into play as the Chase draws near. ‘Smoke’ still displayed a few veteran moves, diving onto the apron at one point, but he finished 20th.
Quotable: “We made a bunch of changes to the car throughout the race. When we started out, it felt like it was up on top of the race track. We needed it to get planted better. We made gains, but we eventually got it to where it was too tight into Turns 1 and 2. Then on that final restart where we got forced high ... and we lost a bunch of spots. We got some of them back, but track position being what it was, it was hard to get any more of them back. Not the greatest showing, but we did what we could with it.”
His standing: Stewart is 16th in the standings with 457 points.
Outlook: Stewart was happy as a driver and an owner after the Daytona 500. His Stewart-Haas Racing cars had plenty of horsepower -- and staying power. Two SHR drivers finished in the top 10 there, but Stewart himself wasn’t one of them -- he finished 41st, the victim of an early crash.
Danica Patrick (No. 10)
Stewart-Haas Racing, Chevrolet
Recap: Patrick drove up into 23rd-place at Kentucky after starting 29th on the grid. The driver of the No. 10 Chevrolet continues to show signs of improvements in her first full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Quotable: “We had a couple of runs where the GoDaddy car was pretty good. But every time we tried to make another adjustment and get the car better, it seemed to get worse. So we’d have to go back on the adjustment and try something new. We were really loose in Turn 3, and then at the end of the race we were just loose all over the place. The guys worked hard, and I hate that everyone had to stay an extra day.”
Her standing: Patrick is 27th in the standings with 313 points.
Outlook: Patrick made history earlier this season when she won the Coors Light Pole for the Daytona 500, then went out and finished eighth in the race. It was a wonderful debut for Danica, who no doubt is looking forward to her return there.
Greg Biffle (No. 16)
Roush Fenway Racing, Ford
Recap: Biffle took a slip in the standings through no fault of his own. His No. 16 Ford was simply caught up in a wreck, and promptly burst into flames. Biffle emerged unscathed and stays in the top 10 of the points standings.
Quotable: “It is just a rough race track and he said things are looking dicey out there, the cars do move around a lot on this race track. That doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with that, it just makes it hard to get your car tuned in to get going. That last change there we got our car working pretty good. I was kind of having fun there for the little bit of the race that I was in. I don’t know what happened there. I don’t know what happened with the 18 earlier but we got lucky and missed that one. We weren’t fortunate enough to miss this one. I was trying to get to the bottom to miss the 2 and couldn’t get it. I was on the brakes and the nose might have been on the race track or something. I couldn’t get to the bottom to miss him.”
His standing: Biffle is ninth in the standings with 489 points.
Outlook: Biffle’s No. 16 Ford has been a monster at Daytona the past three races there. He nearly won the 2012 opener, but instead pushed then-teammate Matt Kenseth to victory and finished third. In the summer race, he was in the top five before a major wreck sent him to a 21st-place finish. In the 2013 Daytona 500, Biffle finished sixth.
Denny Hamlin (No. 11)
Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota
Recap: Boy, things aren’t going well for Denny Hamlin at all. In the top five early in Sunday’s race, he cut a tire and fell back into the 30s. After telling his crew not to worry about it, Hamlin backed it up by getting his No. 11 Toyota back into the top five before losing another tire, this one sending him hard into the outside wall and relegating him to a 35th-place finish.
Quotable: “Really, today it was the best performance for us in a while. Hopefully at least something to build off of even though we don’t have a good finish. We're just going to try to win races and that’s what my job is for the rest of the year is to try to win and do the best I can for my sponsors and my team. Really the biggest thing I was pushing for was to get my team into the Chase."
His standing: Hamlin is 25th in the standings with 329 points.
Outlook: Hamlin got the wind knocked out of him when he hit the wall in Kentucky, but he’s still forging forward. Daytona isn’t one of his best tracks -- he has just two top-fives and two top-10s in 15 starts.