Coca-Cola Racing Family roundup: Watkins Glen
August 12, 2013, NASCAR.com
Joey Logano continued his hot streak, finishing seventh Sunday at Watkins Glen to pace the Coca-Cola Racing Family.
Logano now has three consecutive top-10s as he competes for a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Speaking of hot streaks, Ryan Newman continued his as well. He finished 14th -- not bad, considering the intricacies of the 2.450-mile road course -- and now holds one of two Wild Cards into the postseason.
A roundup on the Coca-Cola Racing Family in order of how they finished at Watkins Glen:
Joey Logano (No. 22)
Penske Racing, Ford
Recap: With the exception of two races, Joey Logano has been the most consistent driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series since Charlotte. He's recorded eight top-10s in the past 11 races, and also finished 11th once. The problem, though, is that his misses have been drastic. Consecutive 40th-place finishes due to tire problems has knocked him down -- but not out -- of the Chase race. He proved that much at Watkins Glen, handling the road course with skill.
Quotable: “Anytime you come to a road course you never know what’s gonna happen and obviously there are a lot more guys out there that had really fast race cars and got wrecked, so survival is always key to get through these things. Our Shell/Pennzoil Ford was about where we finished. I felt like our strategy worked out decent. It wasn’t stellar, but we didn’t catch the cautions perfectly as some guys did. I could have done a little better job on the restarts earlier in the race, but, overall, seventh out of a kind of crapshoot of a race track, you never know what’s gonna happen, so to get seventh and have a solid points day was important for our goal of getting in the Chase.”
His standing: Logano is 16th in the standings with 598 points.
Outlook: With four races until the postseason is set, Logano is very much a darkhorse contended for the Chase. He almost certainly needs a win; if not, four top-fives could also do the trick.
Ryan Newman (No. 39)
Stewart-Haas Racing, Chevrolet
Recap: For the third consecutive week, Newman finished exactly where he qualified -- good for 14th at Watkins Glen. Newman also earned enough ground in the standings to grab the second of two Wild Card berths, so it's tough to complain about his day. Still, it was tough to swallow after Newman was one of several drivers who was ruled to have pitted after pit road had closed during a caution flag. That penalty send him to the end of the longest line, although he recovered.
Quotable: “I haven’t seen the reply of when the lights went from green to red at the pit opening, but I feel confident that we were on pit road before the light changed. But we were sent to the tail end of the longest line. It is what it is. We didn’t get the finish that I feel we were going to get, but a lot of the guys that we’re racing for points had misfortune, and that allowed us to gain some ground in the standings. We really could have capitalized had it not been for that penalty, but we can’t do anything about that now. We’ll head to Michigan next week and look to continue climbing our way into contention for making the Chase field.”
His standing: Newman is 14th in the standings with 605 points.
Outlook: With the unfortunate accident to Tony Stewart, Newman currently owns the second Wild Card spot. It's not set in stone, though. If Martin Truex Jr. slips out of the top 10, he'd likely grab that position from Newman. All the No. 39 can do is drive the wheels off.
Greg Biffle (No. 16)
Roush Fenway Racing, Ford
Recap: Biffle actually gained ground at Watkins Glen, despite being involved in an accident and finishing 16th. That's important, because every place in the standings is important with the points battle so close.
Quotable: Biffle was unavailable for comment.
His standing: Biffle is ninth in the standings with 627 points.
Outlook: Biffle is heading to perhaps his best track this week at Michigan. Not only is he the defending race champion, but he won at Michigan earlier in 2013. He's looking to win three in a row at the 2-mile oval.
Denny Hamlin (No. 11)
Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota
Recap: What has happened to Denny Hamlin? His Chase chances are totally gone, and he finished 19th at Watkins Glen. Then again, in the past eight races, Hamlin has finished inside the top 20 just twice -- on Sunday, and an 18th-place showing at Indianapolis.
His standing: Hamlin is 25th in the standings with 414 points.
Quotable: Hamlin was unavailable for comment
Outlook: The No. 11 Toyota finished 30th at Michigan earlier this season, giving the team something for which to improve upon this time around.
Danica Patrick (No. 10)
Stewart-Haas Racing, Chevrolet
Recap: Patrick finished a respectable 20th at Watkins Glen, not bad at all for her first time on the track. In fact, Danica's had a steady showing the past few races, but seemed to get involved in a wreck or something that caused her to finish more poorly than she drove.
Quotable: “I think at the end of the day, there was a lot going on, especially at the end. Really just trying to finish and really just trying to not get frustrated, no matter what is going on out there, and just taking what the car will give you. So I just tried to stay calm and stay focused on not making any mistakes. It was really easy to make mistakes out there, and we worked on the car, and I feel like we have a direction for next time. We didn’t nail it today, that is for sure, but I think we made gains, for sure, from the beginning of practice until the end of the race. It’s just a matter of using that for next time and getting better.”
Her standing: Patrick is 27th in the standings with 397 points.
Outlook: Patrick finished 13th at Michigan earlier this year, and the bigger tracks suit her style. This race could net the driver her second top-10 of the season.
Tony Stewart (No. 14)
Stewart-Haas Racing, Chevrolet
Recap: Stewart likely watched the race at Watkins Glen from his television in the hospital. A broken leg -- suffered during a sprint car crash -- will keep the driver out for an extended period of time.
His standing: Stewart is 17th in the standings with 594 points.
Outlook: Smoke's next move is picking a full-time replacement for his No. 14 Chevrolet. Austin Dillon will drive the car at Michigan.