Joey Logano dominated most of the First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway, but in the end it took a controversial move to get him to victory lane.
Busch turned a lap at 96.254 miles per hour around the Virginia paperclip to earn the top starting spot in Sunday's race, the first of the third round of NASCAR's Cup Series playoffs.
"Just thinking about Miami, man", Logano said unapologetically after climbing from his vehicle to an evenly divided chorus of cheers and boos from fans in the frontstretch grandstand. I don't think that's a secret to anyone. Eight drivers are racing for four slots and a win earns an automatic berth into the championship event. After bumping Truex to move him up the track in Turns 3 and 4, the two drivers made door-to-door contact coming off Turn 4 with Logano breaking away for the victory.
"He may have won the battle but he didn't win the damn war", Truex explained to NBC Sports after the race.
"I raced him as hard as I race everybody", said Truex. "(If) Harvick has a better three races than we do, he's in on points versus us". But again, I never touched him to pass him so I thought I would get the same courtesy once I passed him.
"And he just drove into the back of me and knocked me out of the way". His only other win was at Talladega Superspeedway and Team Penske has been overshadowed on the track by Ford partner Stewart-Haas Racing.
From past experience, Logano knows that retaliation can be sudden and decisive.
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So for Logano to make it to the finale, he needed to be flawless for three races or in position to win one.
Logano was aware how he won was not popular but his eyes are on the bigger prize.
"Anytime you're under pressure or under the amount of stress as what this round is, to get yourself into the final four for Homestead, anytime you can kind of take a step back and have a clear head is a good time", Busch said.
Logano auto owner Roger Penske wasn't pleased to learn Truex called the bump-and-run a "cheap shot" and he was unusually feisty in his rebuttal. "We've got to do what we've got to do, and he's got to do what he's got to do, and we'll hash it out one way or the other".
"But that was our shot". "This was our shot, maybe our only shot, so we had to make it happen". On the final turn of the last lap the two made contact with Logano getting into the side of Truex Jr.'s vehicle heading to the checkered flag. If Logano wasn't going to put it all on the line, then what's the point of even getting into the race auto each week? The 22 was on the outside. "I'll remember that if he's in front of me coming to the checkered flag".
As it stands, if the round ended today, Truex would advance to the Championship 4 alongside Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, with Kurt Busch, Elliott, Clint Bowyer and Aric Almirola being eliminated. Busch is now 46 points above the cutline while Truex and Harvick are 25 points to the good. Kyle Busch sits second on the grid, 46 points ahead of his brother.