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The Art of Racing - Logano presses for win
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race in Martinsville last Sunday provided us with everything fans could hope for. The Martinsville Speedway is the shortest track on the NASCAR circuit so we knew there would be plenty of bumping and grinding during the 500-lap race. The final 10 laps provided us with enough thrills to last a whole year, and not without plenty of controversy.

Logano was the dominant car, finishing second in Stage 1 and first in Stage 2. He led 309 of the 500 laps. The handling of his car deteriorated near the end as Martin Truex Jr. closed on him.

They put on an exciting duel for the last 10 laps as Truex raced side-by-side with Logano, finally getting by him on the white-flag lap. Although Truex raced Logano cleanly during the battle, Logano did not have the same mindset. As Truex rounded the final turn, Logano put his bumper into him and edged past on the way to the checkered flag.

This did not sit well with Truex. He gave the thumbs down during Logano’s interview, offering up frustration after what he felt was a clean race to the white-flag lap.

“He won the battle,” Truex said of Logano. “But he ain’t gonna win the war. We should be in Victory Lane right now. I was next to him for six laps, I never knocked him out of the way. I cleared him fair and square… he just knocked me out of the way. That’s short track racing, but what goes around comes around.”

Cole Pearn, crew chief for Truex, was frustrated by Logano’s move and had words with Todd Gordon, crew chief for Logano. Gordon doesn’t blame Pearn for his frustration, knowing that if he were in the No. 78 team’s position, he wouldn’t be pleased with the outcome, either. But he stands by his driver’s decision and believes the move was clean.

Joey Logano has played second fiddle most of the year but his win assures him of being one of the four drivers competing for the championship in Homestead-Miami, Florida, and gets him the coveted Grandfather Clock. The next two races in Texas and Phoenix will determine the three other drivers joining Logano for the championship.

Kyle Busch had a good run in Martinsville and has extended his lead over Kevin Harvick to 21 points. Harvick and Truex are tied for third and fourth. The “big three” are still in the driver’s seat to move on to the championship, but Kurt Busch (-25), Chase Elliott (-31) Clint Bowyer (-42) and Aric Almirola (-50) have all seen what a victory means. If any of the bottom four win at Texas or Phoenix, a “big three” racer would be dropped from championship contention.