Joey Logano: Earned way into Chase

Updated: September 12, 2013, 5:22 PM ET
By Brant James | ESPN.com

CHICAGO -- Joey Logano said Thursday that radio communications being investigated by NASCAR that could be construed as evidence of collusion with Front Row Motorsports were nothing but normal scanner chatter.

The Penske Racing driver was unrepentant that the heavily penalized late-race manipulation by Michael Waltrip Racing last week at Richmond worked to his benefit in qualifying for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, which begins Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway.

"We got one win and eight top-5s and 14 top-10 finishes," Logano said at a pre-Chase media event at Navy Pier. "If you look at those numbers, that is every bit of the top three or four that have happened this season. I don't feel bad about being in the Chase at all. We deserve to be in it if you look at those numbers."

Whatever happened there happened. We are in the Chase and here to race. ... We deserve it. We deserve to be in the Chase.

-- Joey Logano
The issue of perceived chicanery has become the dominant storyline entering the first race in the 10-race Chase. NASCAR took the unprecedented step of penalizing three MWR drivers 50 points each following Clint Bowyer's race-altering spin at Richmond with seven laps left and his and teammate Brian Vickers' standings-altering pit stops and slow lap times thereafter.

Multiple media outlets reported Wednesday that the sanctioning body was investigating a potentially suspicious conversation between Front Row crew chief Frankie Kerr and driver David Gilliland about allowing Logano to pass to gain a value standings point. Both teams use Ford engines.

NASCAR said it is aware of the report and Thursday issued a second statement saying it would "have no further comment until all the facts have been examined."

In the final laps, with Ryan Newman leading and in control of the final Chase wild-card spot, a voice believed to be that of Gilliland's spotter appears to ask if Gilliland will allow Logano to pass. The voice says "the big dog ... all his cronies," a believed reference to team owner Roger Penske, who often watches races from the spotter's stand. Kerr countered with, "Travis knows what I've been asking for." Travis Geisler is competition director at Penske.

After Logano passed Gilliland on a final restart following Bowyer's spin to finish 22nd and Newman fell from the lead and the Chase field, the spotter responded to Gilliland, "Good job, good job, man. Hopefully we'll get something out of that."

Just typical spotter banter, Logano said.

"That is stuff that happens week in and week out with spotters," he said. "They are up there communicating back and forth trying to work deals out. 'Hey, help me out here. I will help you out here. Let's work together.' That happens all the time.

"What I look at it and say is that if we didn't pass the 38 car, we were still 10th in points and still got our bonus point, so it has no change in the outcome of where we are right now. I don't look at it as being a big deal at all, to be honest with you."

When reminded that Bowyer's and Vickers' actions in the final laps at Richmond had allowed him to supplant Jeff Gordon for 10th place by a point, Logano bristled in pointing out his results this season. He also owned the tiebreaker over Gordon with his victory.

MWR had an interest in Logano finishing 10th in points to allow Martin Truex Jr. to claim the final wild-card berth.

"Whatever happened there happened," said Logano, who qualified for his first Chase. "We are in the Chase and here to race. We are going to take those bonus points. We deserve it. We deserve to be in the Chase. We won that race, and so we have our bonus points. Yeah, we run with it."

Brant James

Contributor, espnW.com
Brant James has covered the Daytona 500, Indianapolis 500, a World Series and Stanley Cup for the big hometown daily, an NCAA tournament and a Super Bowl. He's walked to the paddock with Kentucky Derby horses before post, ridden to the top of Mount Washington with Travis Pastrana and landed on an aircraft carrier with Dale Earnhardt Jr. He once induced Danica Patrick into a dance number from Moulin Rouge by saying the word "Switzerland." It's been pretty interesting so far.

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