Logano gets it done twice


FORT WORTH, Texas -- With the way the Duck Commander 500 started on Monday, the race couldn't end with Joey Logano blitzing the field in a boring finish, could it?

The day started with jet dryers causing the hoods on several cars to pop up -- yeah, it was strange -- and Dale Earnhardt Jr. driving into the grass and then spanking the wall to end his day before lunch.

But after that, the race settled into a normal, albeit monotonous, pace. Logano took the lead with a little more than 100 laps left and clearly had the dominant car.

In fact, as the laps trickled down, crew members on other teams started scurrying toward the garages to get their equipment packed up for the day.

That was before a late-race caution sent them racing back to their pit boxes. The yellow flag came out when Kurt Busch bumped the wall in Turn 2 and NASCAR determined there was debris in the turn with two laps left.

What was Logano thinking?

"A lot of things I can't say on TV," Logano said during his postrace interview. "It's a lot of emotion."

Logano got mad. Then he forgot about it to be sure he got even.

Since the caution came out before the white flag waved, it meant a green-white-checkered sprint to the finish.

Logano, though, had no intention of allowing someone else to steal his race thanks to a badly timed yellow flag. He took four tires in the pits while Jeff Gordon and Brian Vickers, too far behind to win the race without taking a risk, put two tires on their cars to save time and moved up to the top two positions on the track, pushing Logano to third.

"Coming in sixth, you're in that position where you can gamble," said Gordon, whose No. 24 sported a Texas A&M logo and a maroon color since the race was in Texas. "You're not going to win it with four.

"You're not going to win it with none. Joey was the class of the field the second half of the race. I knew it was going to be hard to hold those guys off."

Gordon couldn't do it.

Logano, third in the restart but wearing those fresh tires, zipped past Vickers on the restart and caught Gordon a lap later.

It didn't hurt that teammate Brad Keselowski, who was second before the caution came out, was handed a speeding ticket in the form of a pass-through penalty when he tried to exit pit road a little too quickly.

Still, Logano earned the win and becomes the seventh different winner of a Sprint Cup race this season. The victory likely gives him a spot in NASCAR's postseason, a playoff system that was altered before the season to put a greater emphasis on winning.

Logano's win ends a wild weekend. Mother Nature had an impact the whole way. She soaked the track all day on Sunday, forcing officials to postpone the race until Monday.

But with overcast and cool conditions, the jet dryers were busy Monday morning, trying to blow as much moisture off Texas Motor Speedway's surface as possible.

But as the cars took some caution laps to get a feel for the track, those same jet dryers punched enough air under the cars to pop some of the hoods up, causing some of them to flap.

NASCAR made the rare decision to let the drivers go back to pit road and get the hoods fixed if they wanted to without losing their starting positions.

"I'm not sure what's more odd: That it happened or that NASCAR allowed those guys to repair them," Jeff Gordon said.

Keselowski ended up with tape on his hood to fix it and the race started under caution for 10 laps. Almost as soon as the green flag whipped in the wind, Earnhardt made a mistake, finding his left-side tires in the grass on the frontstretch. When he came back onto the track, he lost some control and ended up in the wall in Turn 1. He climbed out and was OK, but he spent the rest of the race in the garage, finishing 43rd -- which is last.

That certainly wasn't what many of the estimated 71,000 in attendance were hoping to see, having waited nearly 24 extra hours to see racing.

"I just didn't know I was that close to the grass and made a mistake," Earnhardt said.

He wasn't the only contender whose race was over early.

Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 was hit with debris from Earnhardt on that same accident and couldn't really recover, crossing the finish line two laps down and barely at speed.

Kevin Harvick blew a motor after 28 laps and finished 42nd.

Through it all, Logano just kept getting better. And he didn't let some tough luck late cost him a chance at his first win since last August.

"It was really cool," Logano said. "It was nice to be back in Victory Lane. I got to shoot the guns, and a trophy, a ring and a hat and some duck calls. That's pretty cool."