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Joey Logano Drives to Top-Five in Busch Light Clash

Joey Logano was one of three leaders in Saturday night’s Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. (Photo: Patrick Vallely | NASCAR Studios)

LOS ANGELES — Joey Logano made the most of a very quick, hurried Busch Light Clash on Saturday night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

With impending strong storms approaching California on Sunday, NASCAR moved the exhibition race to Saturday night when Heat races were scheduled to decided a majority of the Busch Light Clash starting positions. Eliminating the preliminary events, this placed a huge premium on nailing practice for drivers and teams.

Despite the audible by the sanctioning body, Logano and his No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Mustang Dark Horse team were prepared. The two-time Cup champion maximized all the good in his Roush-Yates powerplant, posting the second fastest time in practice and the third fastest effort in a 10-lap consecutive run.

More importantly, Logano’s one lap effort in the practice session netted him the outside pole position. From the get-go, the Middletown, Connecticut native put the spurs to his Team Penske machine to the front on Laps 1 and 2, snatching the lead from pole sitter Denny Hamlin.

Never dropping outside of the top 10 in Saturday night’s race, Logano regained the lead on Lap 72 and showed the way going into the halfway point of the race. However, he relinquished the lead on Lap 77, with the Clash essentially becoming a Joe Gibbs Racing showdown between Hamlin and Ty Gibbs.

Towards the end of the Clash, Logano and Gibbs waged in some extracurricular activities in the form of some paint trading. Both drivers attempted to battle for the lead with Logano feeling as if Gibbs was overaggressive at the 0.25-mile Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Although the box score shows Logano netting a fourth place result to Gibbs’ 18th-place finish, both drivers sparred in a mildly tense post-race conversation. Following the race, Logano considered his race day and evening.

“I think it’s very entertaining and sometimes it’s real frustrating when you’re out there because it’s a tight bull ring and you’ve got big cars and they’re sliding around, especially on refires with old tires you’re sliding a lot,” Logano said. “I know from rewatching races and sitting in the grandstands for one of the LCQ’s a couple years ago it was like, ‘This is really entertaining to watch.’

“It becomes pretty crazy at the end, obviously, but you kind of see that. I think we were actually a little better than we were last year.”

Last year, Logano was mired to a 16th-place result in which he was entangled in a Lap 86, Turn 3 incident with Kyle Busch. On Saturday night, Busch looked more like the driver who won the first iteration of the Clash in Los Angeles, a victory that catalyzed his championship season.

Joey Logano and Kyle Larson engaged in a great battle for the lead between Laps 72 to 77. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

Now, 10 days separate the Clash from front row qualifying for the Daytona 500 at the Daytona International Speedway, Logano eyes his second “Great American Race” win and a spot to claim a pivotal Playoffs seed.

For a young racer with 32 Cup wins, Logano does not view the season opener as the end all, be all for a driver with their career.

“It’s not a true measure of your career,” Logano said. “It’s a huge race to win because of everything that goes behind the Daytona 500. Unfortunately, the race is kind of the way it is.

“It’s a speedway race. You would assume the biggest race of the year, the best teams and drivers would always win, but it’s not like that. Speedways have always been known as the great equalizer and it really is.”

Given the unique nature of superspeedway racing versus the majority of the tracks on the Cup circuit, Logano knows each race offers the same incentives – points and trophies.

“With that said, you could still set yourself apart from the field and be better at it and help your chances of it, but you still can get caught up in something or something can happen,” he explained. “So, I don’t think it defines your career. It is an unbelievable stat to have on your resume. That part is fantastic, but I think if you never won the Daytona 500 and then you won 15 Cup races, you’d probably rather win 15 Cup races over one 500.

“I don’t know what that number is. Maybe it’s five to one, I don’t know, but I feel like winning at other tracks, personally, I don’t want to call it a bigger accomplishment, but it kind of means a little different things.”

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing. Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Journalism at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's an everywhere kind of man residing in Texas.

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