Truex slid sideways across the finish line and promptly declared Logano won’t take his title from him this year.
Logano won the opening race to the third round of the playoffs by using the bumper on his Ford to shove Truex out of his way on the final lap. The contact caused both cars to wiggle, but Truex went nearly sideways while Logano corrected after a swerve, straightened himself out and hurtled across the finish line.
Eight drivers started the day vying for the four spots in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Now one of the slots is gone, to Logano of Team Penske, and NASCAR’s so-called “Big Three” is still without a berth. Truex, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch all were expected to make it to Miami to race for the title after dominating the regular season.
Instead, Truex wound up third and joined those jeering Logano during a post-race interview.
“We should be in victory lane right now,” said Truex, who stood on pit road alongside his Toyota and gave Logano a double thumbs-down gesture as the crowd booed the winner. He may have won the battle, but he ain’t winning the damn war. I’m not going to let him win (the championship). I’m going to win it.”
Logano seemed to be aware that the way he won was unpopular, but his eyes were on the bigger prize.
“Miami. I was thinking about how we could win a championship,” he said. “That’s NASCAR racing. That’s what the grassroots are, that’s what fans come here to see. Some may not like it.”
Logano led a race-high 309 of the 500 laps but had to contend with Penske teammate Brad Keselowski in the waning laps. That gave time for Truex, whose Toyota failed inspection prior to the race and started 31st, to close in on the leaders.
Truex first got past Keselowski before tracking down Logano with 10 laps to go. They raced side by side, door to door, round and round the Virginia paperclip until Truex finally got the lead with one lap remaining.
Truex thought he was clear and headed for his first career victory on a short track. Instead, Logano used his bumper to take the win back into his control and earned an enemy while doing so.
“I was next to him for six laps, I never knocked him out of the way,” Truex said. “We were going to race hard for it, in my book. I cleared him fair and square. We weren’t even banging doors. And he just drove into the back of me and knocked me out of the way. Yeah, it’s short track racing. But what goes around, comes around.”