DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Nearly a week after the grinding conclusion to the 63rd Daytona 500 at Daytona Int’l Speedway, Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski still haven’t discussed the finish.
The pair came together in turn three of the 2.5-mile superspeedway after Keselowski got a push in the draft from Michael McDowell, who was running third with half a lap to go in The Great American Race.
As Keselowski looked underneath Logano to challenge for the victory, Logano moved down to block Keselowski’s run. The pair of Ford Mustangs made contact with both Logano and Keselowski spinning in front of the oncoming pack.
McDowell sneaked between the two and ultimately won the Daytona 500, while Keselowski and Logano left the race track with destroyed race cars and crushed dreams.
Logano met with reporters Friday morning for the first time since the crash to discuss the finish, noting that even if he could have made a different move on the final lap, “what’s done is done.”
“You can’t change it now; that’s the bottom line,” said Logano. “I was up in the mirror and watching everything develop behind me. When the 34 (McDowell) and the 2 (Keselowski) hooked up, they came at me with a run, I threw a mild block, and when Brad moved to the left to pass me … that got the 34 off-center on his bumper. These Cup cars are very unstable when they’re getting pushed. It’s not like when we used to tandem, when we had a pair of 400s across the back. There’s not much mechanical grip in our cars anymore.
“With the lower ride heights, we’re trying to get the spoiler out of the air to make speed. When a car gets off-center as much as McDowell was on Brad, it’s going push him around, just like we saw the first (lap-14) crash happen,” Logano continued. “At that point, from watching it in slow motion and trying to dissect it, I saw Brad’s hands turn to the left and the back end of his car was further left than he is, so that meant he was going to the right at that moment spinning out. That’s why I got tagged so hard in the left-rear and (got) spun out so quick. That’s how I see it happened.”
Logano’s hope during the closing stages was that because he had several Ford drivers lined up behind him in the draft, he’d be relatively safe near the finish.
Unfortunately, those hopes were dashed in the third turn coming to the checkered flag.
“It’s quite the bummer that (the crash) happened because you’re so close to winning The Great American Race and you think 30 laps before … when you’ve got four Fords behind you and everyone is working together that everything will be fine. I was pretty stoked about the situation,” Logano noted. “It’s kind of the best scenario you can possibly be in for the last 30 laps of that race and then once I saw Brad lay back and shuffle the 4 (Kevin Harvick) out I said, ‘OK, this game is about to change. This isn’t going the way I would expect it to,’ and I knew that things were going to be a little different.
“That’s what developed in the last few laps. Cars were laying back so much trying to form runs and I was backing up trying to keep everyone tight behind me and not get so far out (in front), because everyone was checking up behind me trying to form runs. I knew everyone would be bumper to bumper and all that came to fruition when we went down the back straightaway and everyone opened it up. You saw some cars on the bottom and that top lane had five cars pushing each other.
“There will always be a few runs coming at you that way and that’s just how it ended this year.”
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