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Joey Logano on his last-lap incident: ‘A dumb mistake’

From excitement and butterflies to overwhelming nerves and pressure, NASCAR Cup Series drivers share what they remember from their first forays into the Daytona 500.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Joey Logano said he made “a dumb mistake” when he tried to keep Chris Buescher from taking the lead on the last lap of their qualifying race Thursday night at Daytona International Speedway.

The result is that Logano will go to a backup car at a time when there’s a scarcity of cars for each team because of a shortage in supplies. Buescher’s win made it a sweep of the Duels for RFK Racing, which had team owner Brad Keselowski win the first qualifying race.

Logano knew what was coming on the last lap.
“I knew as the leader, I was a bit of a sitting duck, but at worst I was gonna finish fourth and was gonna try to let it play out,” Logano said after being cleared from the infield care center. “Didn’t think (Buescher) was going to get a run that quick. He didn’t fall back that far, and it came to me so fast, and I reacted to try to block it.

“I should have just let it happen and race from there. Just messed up. Worst part isI put our team in a bad spot trying to ... get another car (ready), and I got (Harrison Burton) in it, too. A dumb mistake. All there is to it. Not perfect.”

As for going to a backup car and starting at the rear of the field in Sunday’s Daytona 500, Logano said: “We’ll try to make (the backup car) the best we can. We’ve got a couple of days of practice to work on it and get it good and move on. There’s nothing I can do now. I wish I could reverse time, but I can’t. Just a mistake, and I’ve got to move forward.”

Logano led three other Fords on the final lap. Buescher was second, followed by Michael McDowell and Burton.

As they went into Turn 2, the four cars went high to pass the lapped car of David Ragan. Once Buescher was clear of Ragan, he dived down the track and Logano blocked. They made contact, sending Logano’s car spinning and into the SAFER barrier nose-first.

Logano’s comments about how quick a run Buescher made is something that drivers have noticed with the Next Gen car. As for why the runs are quicker, Buescher wasn’t sure.

“The thing that has been extremely interesting — and I think we’re learning every time — is that these cars are very good at having huge runs front to back in a narrow wake,” Buescher said. “But when you get side-by-side, it stalls you out aggressively.

“We had a line of four of us and a single car that we (lapped). It stalled us all out. It stalled our whole line out. As (Logano) had a little bit more gap ahead, we had a run moving up to him single file and was able to move down the hill some.
“I don’t want it to happen that way, and I definitely hate it did. You look back at it and if I was in that position, we all know our situation on cars and where we’re at, but you put those helmets on and no one is really thinking about that. We’re trying to go win races.

“If the shoe was on the other foot, I’d probably do the same thing and would be bummed about it just the same, where if you don’t try and make a move and end up fourth or fifth or whatever it would be, you’ll be bummed at the same time.”