Coca-Cola Racing Family roundup: Michigan
August 19, 2013, Staff report, NASCAR.com
Joey Logano was the latest member of the Coca-Cola Racing Family to find Victory Lane this year.
It was a day of firsts for the young driver at Michigan, where he won his first race in a Ford, his first race of 2013 and his first race for Penske Racing.
The victory also shuffled the Chase standings and gives the Coca-Cola Racing Family three legitimate postseason players -- and perhaps four, if Tony Stewart manages to return from a broken leg.
Greg Biffle finished ninth, joining Logano in the top 10.
A roundup on the Coca-Cola Racing Family in order of how they finished at Michigan:
Joey Logano (No. 22)
Penske Racing, Ford
Recap: Logano started on the Coors Light Pole, then won his first race of the year. His No. 22 Ford was fast and stable. Logano put himself in position to win on the final restart of the day, when he dove onto the apron to make it three-wide and pass Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch. He trailed Mark Martin late and just had to wait and see if Martin’s fuel cell ran dry -- which it did.
Quotable: “We are getting closer to the Chase. This was a hard fought win throughout the whole 22 Penske team. We have gone through a lot this season and it is well deserved. Todd Gordon and all the guys gave me a great car today that was capable of winning and they kept tuning it in and getting it a little better and keeping me up front with the right strategy. It was up to me on the last restart and I had to be very aggressive to get by the 29 and do what I had to do and here we are. What a great place to win and a great time to win being in Ford’s backyard and coming up to the Chase like this. Being in Roger’s back yard it was a great opportunity for me and I am glad we delivered.”
His standing: Logano is 13th in the standings with 646 points.
Outlook: Logano has a win, but not a Wild Card berth yet. There’s a few ways to get one. The first is to win again. The second is to climb into the top 10. The third is to see if either Kasey Kahne (11th) or Martin Truex Jr. (12th) gets into the top 10 ahead of a driver with no wins (Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch). The series returns to Bristol this week, which is where the Logano-Denny Hamlin feud took off earlier this year.
Greg Biffle (No. 16)
Roush Fenway Racing, Ford
Recap: Biffle was attempting to become the first driver since Bill Elliott in the mid 1980s to win three consecutive races at Bristol. It didn’t happen, but his No. 16 Ford still led 28 laps en route to a ninth-place finish and 36-point day. Biffle still has an automatic spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup for now, and he has a win to fall back on as well.
Quotable: “We bumped the 2 (of Brad Keselowski) coming out of the pits in that scramble at the end and hurt the left front fender. That might have been some of our problem. Our cars are way, way better out front than they are in traffic. That is really tough for us.”
His standing: Biffle is 10th in the standings with 663 points.
Outlook: Biffle is a Bristol veteran, having competed 21 times at the high-banked, 0.533-mile oval. He finished 11th earlier this year, but hasn’t had a top-10 since 2011 and a top-five since 2010.
Ryan Newman (No. 39)
Stewart-Haas Racing, Chevrolet
Recap: One week after entering the Chase field, Newman fell out of it. Not only did Joey Logano win for the first time this year, but the driver leap-frogged Newman in the standings. Now, Newman is in 15th place and needs another win, or to move way up the standings. He finished 13th at Michigan, which isn’t at all a bad day.
Quotable: “As far as the Chase goes, we came into Michigan with a Wild Card, and left without one. The points are so tight, and with three races to go, anything can happen. We need to focus on running as consistently as possible, week in and week out. If we’re able to get another win, that will obviously help tremendously in the Wild Card battle. But, there’s a couple of guys that are in the top 10 without a win, and if they’re to have a bad race or two and fall out, that might get us into the top 10 and out of the Wild Card scenario.”
His standing: Newman is 15th in the standings with 636 points.
Outlook: There’s three races to go before the Chase field is set -- Bristol, Atlanta and Richmond. The only thing Newman can do is worry about his own success. He can’t control what those above him in the standings do.
Denny Hamlin (No. 11)
Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota
Recap: Hey, Hamlin was leading laps multiple times Sunday at Michigan. Sure, it was because he was on a different strategy and trying something new, but maybe that will build his confidence heading into Bristol following his 20th-place showing in Michigan.
His standing: Hamlin is 25th in the standings with 439 points.
Outlook: Hamlin may not have pleasant memories of Bristol. It is, after all, where he and Joey Logano first got into a tussle on pit road. We all know how that ended later in the season at Fontana.
Danica Patrick (No. 10)
Stewart-Haas Racing, Chevrolet
Recap: Patrick wasn’t involved in an incident, which is a good thing. She finishes on the lead lap, which is also a good thing. Patrick finished 23rd on the wide, flat 2-mile oval, which is actually 10 places worse than her showing there earlier this year.
Quotable: “Late in the race, the car just got tight. It was really good from the halfway point until we made that last pit stop. Then it just went tight. Overall, though, the car was pretty good all weekend. We had good practices and it felt comfortable throughout the weekend. I’m proud of Tony Gibson and the GoDaddy crew. We’re making progress and getting better each weekend.”
Her standing: Patrick is 27th in the standings with 418 points.
Outlook: Patrick performed incredibly well at one short track this year. It wasn’t Bristol, rather, but Martinsville. Patrick finished 28th at Thunder Valley earlier this season and was 27th in this race last year.
Tony Stewart (No. 14)
Stewart-Haas Racing, Chevrolet
Recap: Stewart missed his second consecutive race this past weekend. Instead, he watched (from home, we assume) Austin Dillon pilot his No. 14 Chevrolet to a 14th-place finish. Stewart is still nursing his broken leg and won’t return for Bristol.
His standing: Stewart is 18th in the standings with 594 points.