Joey Logano finishes second in 2023 Daytona 500: 'Second is the worst, man'

Joey Logano finishes second in 2023 Daytona 500: 'Second is the worst, man'

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Joey Logano came close to adding more history to his hearth once again in Sunday‘s Daytona 500.

After winning the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series championship — not to mention the 2015 edition of the “Great American Race” — Logano almost added another crown jewel to his growing Hall of Fame resume in the 65th running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. However, his late-hour push toward the front wasn’t quite enough to seal the deal in overtime, and a last-lap caution turned the outcome into a career-defining victory for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. instead, leaving Logano as the runner-up.

RELATED: Unofficial results | At-track photos: Daytona

“Pissed off, that’s where I’m at right now, with a little bit of a smile at least,” Logano said after a quick pit-road debrief with his No. 22 Team Penske Ford group. “We finished it, which is all right, but gosh, I hate finishing second in the 500. You’re so close to winning the biggest race of the year. … What do you do? It’s over now, you move on, but we were so close to winning this thing. So proud of our team and what we’ve done from coming off the championship and carrying momentum into the season, but finishing second in the 500 in an extremely solid race is just, argh! It stings. It hurts right now.”

Logano led six times for 12 laps in a bid for his second 500 crown, and he was lined up in fourth place for the final restart, sitting behind Stenhouse on the outside lane. Three-quarters of the way through the next-to-last lap, Stenhouse gained a bit of a margin and shifted lanes, leaving Logano to lead the top side with Kyle Busch’s No. 8 Richard Childress Racing entry behind him.

Even as the only Mustang driver among the top nine — the “lone horse,” he said — Logano actually inched ahead after the white flag when Stenhouse’s No. 47 JTG-Daugherty Racing Chevrolet was forced three-wide with Kyle Larson in the middle. When Larson’s car faded heavily and spun sideways, the ensuing multi-car tangle behind the front-runners prompted a race-ending yellow flag.

“Second is the worst, man,” Logano said. “You‘re so close. Leading the white-flag lap there, I was up front. Kyle (Busch) gave me a good push, and, yeah, you‘re watching in the mirror, and you‘re three-wide across there. I felt like the three-wide was going to hurt a lane; looked like Kyle (Larson) was getting pushed ahead, and then Ricky started getting pushed ahead.

“I knew if I went to the bottom, my car didn’t handle good enough. I already got pushed off the bottom once, and I thought, if I go down there, I‘m probably going to get wrecked, and I don‘t know if I can get down there in time to throw the block and so I didn‘t want to wreck my car either.”

Logano came through with his No. 22 Ford largely unscathed in an eventful race where many of his fellow competitors were not as fortunate. The Sunday performance also backed up a rock-solid showing in the days leading up to the 500 — fifth-fastest in time trials, a victory in a Duel qualifying race and a third-place starting spot for the main event.

“We had the performance the whole week we’ve been down here,” No. 22 crew chief Paul Wolfe told NASCAR.com. “The Fords were fast, that was encouraging. Proud of our pit crew. We executed really well and that put us in position there at the end really to get the lead. Gosh, it’s just so hard to get through one of these races clean and to be that dang close. It just stings right now. Typically, second’s a good run but it just doesn’t feel like it right now for everything it took to get ourselves here.”

While the result was bittersweet, Logano made it a priority to give credit where credit was due and offer his congratulations in his televised interview, saying from experience, “There’s nothing like winning the Daytona 500.”

Even with the video review of the finish indicating a clear victory for Stenhouse, Logano mostly kept his foot on the gas on his way back to the start-finish line for the final time. He actually edged ahead of Stenhouse’s No. 47 to take the checkered flag and yellow flag first — an action that briefly and incorrectly put his No. 22 atop the scoring pylon before the accurate finishing order was listed.

“I was in denial,” Logano said with a laugh. “I still am.”

Contributing: John Crane