The final act of the Food City presents the Supermarket Heroes 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway in May produced one of the most memorable sequences of the 2020 NASCAR season.
With just three laps remaining, Chase Elliott drove his car hard into the corner in a bold effort to pass Joey Logano for the lead.
That’s when the drama picked up.
The Elliott and Logano cars slammed into the outside wall, while Brad Keselowski cruised past en route to his third Bristol victory.
A furious Logano offered the following review after a post-race chat with Elliott.
“He wrecked me,” Logano said. “A simple apology … be a man and say ‘My bad.’ I had to force an apology, which to me is just childish.”
During a Zoom conference with Bristol area media last week, Logano was asked about the incident that became fodder on highlight shows for weeks.
“What would I do different? What would [Elliott] do different, that might be another question,” Logano said.
Just one lap before the crash, Logano grabbed the lead from Elliott on a restart. On his second attempt to dive under Logano, Elliott lost control of his car.
The crafty Keselowski watched and waited for his chance.
“I feel like I was an innocent bystander in that one,” Logano said last week. “I was on the outside, and the next thing you know I was up in the fence.”
Logano was forced to settle for a 21st place finish, one spot ahead of Elliott.
“It’s kind of hard to look back and say there was much I would do different in that case,” Logano said. “That’s short track racing, I guess.”
The short track spectacle at Bristol Motor Speedway will become part of the playoffs with Saturday’s Night Race.
Under the cutoff format, four drivers will be sliced from the playoff field after Saturday’s event.
Logano has no problem with the high stakes element on a BMS track known for sudden mishaps like he experienced this spring.
“Of course it’s fair,” Logano said. “We’re all racing at the same track. It doesn’t matter what the lineup is for any of these races.”
According to Logano, the 2020 Night Race has the makings of a must-see event.
“Just making a lap around [Bristol] is nuts,” Logano said. “When you put 40 of us out there where you’re making 15 and 16 second laps – that’s crazy.
“And when you put that on top of what’s going to be on the line for some drivers, whether it’s trying to get into the next round or get a win, the intensity is going to be up.”
Logano, the 2018 Cup champion, opened his latest playoff push with a pair of third place finishes at Darlington and Richmond. He’s currently fourth in points.
It’s been a season of adjustments for Logano, who was paired with new chief Paul Wolfe before the opening race at Daytona.
After winning two of the first four events at Las Vegas and Phoenix, Logano has not visited Victory Lane since.
“Those early wins feel like they were a long time ago at this point, but the challenges that COVID-19 has brought to all of us have been pretty tough in their own unique ways,” Logano said.
For Logano, the unique challenge on his Team Penske ride was adapting to life without crew chief Todd Gordon for the first time since 2013.
“We had a whole new team essentially with Paul Wolfe, the engineers and the guys working on the car,” Logano said.
The elimination of practice and qualifying complicated the transition process.
“We really didn’t have much to talk about. [Wolfe] didn’t know what little things I was looking for with the car,” Logano said. “Each track is different, and practice would have helped a lot in those cases.
“Our speed has been more consistent, and we’re worked really hard to bridge that gap from where we were early in the season.”
Logano said his confidence level is high entering his return to Bristol.
“It feels we’re getting close to getting in that championship mode,” Logano said. “Darlington kind of proved that.”
Logano recovered from a flat tire and crash on a restart on his third place run at Darlington.
In 23 starts at Bristol, Logano has 10 top-10 finishes. He won the Night Race in 2014 and 2015.
“Every racer wants to win one of those crown jewel events, and I think the Bristol Night Race is part of that,” Logano said. “I absolutely love Bristol. The atmosphere is amazing.”
So will there be more must-see sequences from Bristol Saturday?
“The intensity is going to be up,” Logano said. “There will be lots of drama for the fans to watch.”
firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @Greg_BHCSports | (276) 645-2544
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