Joey Logano sees Michigan victory slip away in closing laps

Joey Logano was good on every restart Sunday at Michigan, except the last, when Jeff Gordon was able to drive by for the win. 

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Joey Logano knew he let one get away.

All during Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway, Logano ran up front, leading a race-high 86 of 200 laps.

And during the first seven caution periods, he nailed nearly every restart perfectly in his No. 22 Team Penske Ford, at times drawing the ire of polesitter Jeff Gordon, who accused Logano of playing games as he would go to take the green flag.

There was just one problem: There were eight caution flags in all, and on the final one, it was Gordon who hit it perfectly, out-dragging Logano into Turn 1 on Lap 184 and holding on to lead the final 17 laps to score his third victory of the season over Kevin Harvick. Logano fell to fourth on the final restart and had to pass Paul Menard on the last lap to finish third.

It was a difficult way to lose.

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"We kept tightening the car up and getting better," said Logano, who won this race from the pole last year. "By the end we got it right where it needed to be and then just restart after restart after restart. I won every single restart except the last one and here I am. That is kind of frustrating but I almost had him there and I rode around in fourth hoping for a restart because that is the spot you want to be. Then I realized we weren’t going to get another restart and went for third from there."

Still, despite the disappointment, Logano remained optimistic.

Asked what his takeaway was from Sunday, he said, "That we can win a championship. I really feel like we can do that. That is the message I want to put out there and I want to put it out there for my team, that we are strong enough to do it this year. I think we showed it today."

That said, Logano admitted the team has some work left to do.  

"We need to find a little more speed to keep up with one car today," he said. "We were the second-best car. The 24 (Gordon) was the best because he was good on the long run and we weren’t as good on the long run. We are close. We still have to keep working hard and find that next level here in three weeks now to be this strong in the Chase but right now we are in the hunt and doing what we have to do."