Joey Logano led a race-best 37 of the 165 laps Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway, and those laps out front included a Stage 2 victory and the lead with seven laps remaining in regulation. The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford was feeling good about his chances of capturing his second victory of 2021 and second at the 2.5-mile track in Daytona Beach, Florida.
But then Logano wound up 23rd at the checkered flag in overtime.
“We had a shot to win there and the 11 just threw a late block and fenced me and then I had a right rear down,” Logano said. “Luckily, I didn’t take out the whole field that time, but that got taken care of the next lap, so it probably wouldn’t have mattered.”
The No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota belongs to Denny Hamlin. Both Hamlin and Logano were locked into the 2021 NASCAR Playoffs. But Hamlin was fighting for the regular-season title, which he ultimately lost to Kyle Larson.
There was a wreck on Lap 158. Hamlin was listed on the caution report. Logano was not, but he was dealing with the flat right-rear tire from the lap before. Hamlin finished 13th.
When asked whether hard feels toward Hamlin will carry over into the NASCAR Playoffs, Logano said, “Absolutely.”
These two have a history of on-track, off-track drama, most notably dating back to Bristol Motor Speedway in 2013 and carrying over a week later at Auto Club Speedway — a reminder of what happened. The rivalry most recently sparked back up in 2019 at Martinsville Speedway, where the two tangled on pit road and Hamlin blatantly mocked Logano on camera after the race.
Hamlin is seeded seventh in the 16-driver postseason field with 2,015 points, while Logano is ninth with 2,013 points. The playoffs begin next Sunday at Darlington Raceway with the Cook Out Southern 500 (6 p.m. ET on NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
(from NASCAR.Com, photo by Getty Images)