LAS VEGAS – Joey Logano knows the contact with Daniel Suarez wasn’t malicious, but that doesn’t make him feel any better.
Logano’s night took a turn Sunday in Stage 2 when contact with Suarez in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway caused significant damage to the right side and front bumper of his No. 22 Team Penske Ford.
“He crashed me,” Logano said. “I wasn’t too excited about it. It wasn’t on purpose; he just made a mistake. It’s unfortunate that we were the ones that paid the penalty for his mistake.”
Prior to the incident, Logano rocketed from a 22nd-place starting spot to lead in time to win Stage 1. In all, he led a race-high 105 laps during the 267-lap event.
After the contact with Suarez, Logano’s No. 22 team made repairs under caution from a Lap 189 incident involving playoff driver Kurt Busch. That allowed Logano to rally back for a ninth-place finish and helped him to keep his fifth-place position in the playoff standings.
“We were really good,” Logano said. “We had a car that drove all the way to the lead and led a bunch of laps. We need to be proud of that. We’re not going to let our heads get down on that.”
Although initially hesitant to point fingers, Suarez indicated he had no knowledge Logano was in his vicinity leading to the contact.
“I hate to blame people, but that was my spotter, just didn’t say anything,” Suarez said. “And I apologized to Joey. He’s one of the last guys I’d really want to be in his way. But I don’t know. It’s my bad, though.”
Logano also showed his frustration in-race immediately after the contact, displaying the middle finger to Suarez and forcing the No. 41 car down onto the apron in Turns 1 and 2. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver took no offense to the actions.
“I know I’ve got one from him and he’s going to be good, but I don’t blame him,” Suarez said. “I would do the same thing.”