Despite troubles, Team Penske driver scores fifth-place finish KANSAS CITY, Kan. – If Joey Logano hopes to contend for this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, the Team Penske driver and his No. 22 team will have to avoid the kind of mistakes that took them out of contention during Saturday night's rain-delayed SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway . Logano passed more cars than any other driver at Kansas , 147 according to NASCAR loop data, and came home with a not-so-terrible fifth-place finish, his sixth top-five result in this year's first 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. But missteps by the driver and team continually put the yellow Ford at the back of the field, requiring Logano to work his way through rush-hour-like traffic on at least two occasions. "We inverted the field on ourselves," Logano said sheepishly. "We got most cars passed and it was fun, but … man, we did a terrible job. That's pretty much what it comes down to." The Daytona 500 winner joins the rest of the series this week at Charlotte Motor Speedway , site of Saturday night's Sprint All-Star race (7:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, Sirius XM). A week later, Charlotte plays host to the Coca-Cola 600 (May 24, 6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM), the series' longest affair. He has finished as high as second in the non-points race and his average finish in points races there is better than any other facility. But he has yet to win at the 1.5-mile track. And unless they avoid problems such as those that surfaced at Kansas , he'll remain winless at Charlotte. Although he started on the pole for the fourth time this season last weekend, and led the first 29 laps of the 267-lap race, a penalty during pit stops on Lap 95 (his crew was over the wall too soon) dropped him to the tail end of the field. After working his way from 32nd back inside the top 10, Logano was flagged again on Lap 186 when he came down pit road before it was open under caution. That miscue sent him back to the rear once more, this time just outside the top 15. "I typically hear it on my radio, whether (pit road) is open or closed," he said of the mistake. "I heard the call to pit but I never looked (at the pit entrance lights). I saw no one else was pitting and thought 'we're going to get off strategy here. I'm the only guy (pitting).'" Fortunately for the team, Logano's car had speed. He was back inside the top 10 once again by Lap 220 and fifth by the time the checkered flag finally appeared. "We got a top five out of it because we had a fast car and we were able to recover," he said. "But just on all aspects we all just did a terrible job; We know how to do it, we've done it before, we execute really well; we just kept screwing up." Logano made it to the Championship Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup a year ago, winning a career-best five times in his second season with the Penske organization. Based on his team's showing thus far this year, he's once again considered one of the favorites to battle for the title. As long as he and the team avoid putting themselves in the type of precarious positions they found themselves in last weekend. "We had a fast race car and that’s what saved us," Logano said. "But our execution was not very good. We've got to raise our game a little bit. We've got to clean it up." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Relive the top five moments at the past weekend's races as Matt Crafton becomes the first NCWTS driver to be a two-time winner at Kansas Speedway and Jimmie Johnson grabs his third checkered flag of the 2015 season.
Jimmie Johnson holds off Kevin Harvick in the final laps at Kansas Speedway to win the SpongeBob SquarePants 400.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick each talk about what went right and wrong at Kansas Speedway as the trio all finished inside the top 10.
Brad Keselowski Racing teammates Austin Theriault and Tyler Reddick got together during at Kansas Speedway , sending both drivers to backup trucks.
Matt Crafton wins the Toyota Tundra 250 at Kansas Speedway after several drivers ran out of fuel in the final laps of the race.
Matt Crafton becomes the first two-time winner at Kansas Speedway in the NCWTS and earns his second win of the season.
No. 88 driver focused on earning first career Coca-Cola 600 win RELATED: Junior goes from 'big trouble' to top 5 " Johnson gambles, wins Although the Kansas race made Dale Earnhardt Jr . panic at one point late Saturday night, the No. 88 Hendrick Chevrolet’s fast finish to third in the SpongeBob SquarePants 400 has him excited about coming to Charlotte. Junior said in this weeks "Dale Jr. Dowload" on Dirty Mo radio that the No. 88 team was confident coming off the truck at Kansas and started the soggy Cup race well, then things fell apart. "Everybody was real loose. It was a bit of a shock, I think, for everyone how loose the track was. So everybody was skating around, having trouble. We were, too, but not as bad as most guys. "Then the next run it got worse. The next it got worse. We’re working on the car, and it’s getting worse. So I was freaking out. I’m panicking because we’re trying to fix the car, doing some pretty big stuff, and it’s getting worse." A rain delay of 2 hours and 16 minutes wound up being a saving grace for Junior and the No. 88 crew. Junior said he climbed up on the pit box during the rain delay and let his emotion fly with crew chief Greg Ives. "I’m about to go nuts, what are we gonna do, Greg?" Junior recalls saying at the start of the rain delay. "Greg said it was good I pushed him, but I think I aggravated him more than anything. "He made some great changes. Him and Kevin and the guys put their heads together and did some good things." Junior said the car was more like he expected after the race restarted, with good handling and great speed. "So we took off haulin’ ass there, everything’s going good, passing cars," Junior said on Tuesday's radio show, which took a few times to record because Gus Earnhardt was barking a lot as his master fired up the grill. "Fun restarts on the outside, especially following Kyle Larson around the top. Me and him must have passed 10 cars on that one restart. The kid’s got some talent." Larson wound up finishing 15th in the SpongeBob SquarePants 400, moving the Chip Ganassi Racing driver up two spots in the points standings to 22nd place. Earnhardt Jr. remains in fifth place, trailing leader Kevin Harvick by 77 points and Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson by 29 points. Junior said he thought he might have been able to steal the win from Johnson had he started on the outside rather than behind Johnson on the inside on Saturday’s final restart. But now his attention turns to the races at Charlotte, where he believes his strong finish last weekend bodes well. "It’s got me excited for Charlotte. We’re going to another track for the first time with Greg Ives. We got a lot of stuff that we feel like worked there in the past. Bring on his new ideas and see what happens." RELATED: Sprint All-Star Race format " Who's eligible Junior says he feels no pressure in running the Sprint All-Star Race, because it’s all or nothing with the $1 million on the line for the winner. He’s much more intense about the Coca-Cola 600 . "What I’m really wanting to focus on is the 600. I want to win that 600. I’d rather win the 600 than the All-Star Race. I just would. It's just a much more important race for me." Junior finished 19th in the Coca-Cola 600 last year. He never has won the 600, his best finish of fourth coming in 2000. He won the All-Star event as a rookie in 2000. VOTE: Show your support for your favorite driver in the Sprint Fan Vote FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Camping World Truck Series driver says track can be a 'cruel teacher' Even after crashing out of his two previous Kansas Speedway starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Spencer Gallagher still sees the intermediate-sized track in the Midwest plains as a favorable venue. It's a love-hate relationship that could understandably veer toward hate, but for Gallagher, the love side of the spectrum still wins out. "I've had some ridiculous things happen to me at my career at Kansas , but I still love the place," Gallagher says. "She can be a cruel teacher, but it really is a great race track." Gallagher and the rest of the Truck Series regulars get their chance to learn more Kansas lessons, shaking off a five-week layoff in Friday night's Toyota Tundra 250 (8:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1), the fourth of 23 races this season for the tailgate tour. Spins, wrecks, and other heartaches tell only part of the tale of Gallagher's backstory with the 1.5-mile speedway . The 25-year-old Las Vegas native also claims Kansas as the site of his first win in the ARCA stock-car series last season, but also as the home to his truck series debut in 2013. Though that first Truck race was marked by a dead-last starting spot and a crash-abbreviated 22nd-place finish, it still serves as a reminder for how far Gallagher has come from his partial-schedule beginnings to his full-time role with GMS Racing in the No. 23 Allegiant Travel Chevrolet this season. "What a disaster that race was," Gallagher said, pointing out a photo on the wall of his race shop that shows him making a pit stop during his debut. "It's funny, if you go back and look at my record at Kansas , I have had some of the dumbest stuff I've every had happen to me in my entire race car driving career happen at Kansas , but I still love the place. By all rights, I really shouldn't be because it hasn't been kind to me all that much. I still love going around it. "It feels like a whole lifetime ago. That was a different team really with a completely different way of doing things than we are now. We've come so far. We're so much better than the team we were a couple of years ago. I really catch myself thinking and feeling that a lot, that wow, all that stuff feels like a lifetime ago." Fast forward two years later and Gallagher has reason for optimism in his first full season in a NASCAR national series. Though he notes that the results haven't reflected the team's performance so far, Gallagher still ranks eighth in the truck standings with plenty of racing left -- just three races into a season-long contest. Gallagher hasn't lacked for motivation, identifying himself as "the goal-setting type." This season's aim is a finish in the top five in the Camping World Truck Series standings, a feat he sees as achievable. "We have made leaps-and-bounds improvements over the stuff that we were running even last year. It's been nothing short of a revolution for us in the offseason," he says. "So I try to be a goal-oriented person. I find that helps me get things done a lot better. If you have a clear goal in mind, that keeps your mind from wandering and it keep you on focus." The other factor that's helped him sharpen both his focus and his driving skills has been a newfound interest in dirt-track racing, where he's a self-described "new convert to the gospel" of slinging a late model around clay bullrings as an extracurricular diversion. Gallagher said he's enamored with the compact time frame of dirt-track racing, which allows him to shoehorn an event into his schedule with relative ease. After Friday night's Truck race, he plans to compete at Friendship Speedway in Elkin, North Carolina, in an effort to fit in more seat time. Though the Kansas high banks are paved and contain a decent amount of grip, Gallagher said he sees some parallels with dirt-track racing, comparing the two styles of running on the ragged edge. Friday night, he'll see if the hobby translates to success in his full-time ride. "We're going to get to find that out at Kansas ," Gallagher said. "That's going to be the first real test I'm going to have since I started. I totally see what people mean when they say it helps a driver's feel so much because you're so out of control constantly in those things. You have to develop a good 'butt feel,' as it were to just be able to get around the race track." In just 15 career Truck Series races, Gallagher has a best finish of third place, secured last fall in a mad scramble of a finish at Talladega Superspeedway . This season, he's still in search of his first top-10 run, but he's emphasized making the focus about his team's fortunes and not his personal aspirations. "I kind of come secondary. If I'm having a great day, wonderful, but I want to make sure GMS Racing's having a great day," Gallagher said. "... Week in, week out, we've taken cars to the race track that have had great speed with them, and that's the important bit. If we can keep that consistency going through the rest of the season, good things happen, man. Good things are all about consistency, and that's what's important. That's what I like about it." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Get caught up for the SpongeBob SquarePants 400 (Sat., 7:30 p.m. ET, FS1) SHOP: NASCAR gear of all your favorite drivers What: 5th Annual SpongeBob SquarePants 400 When: Saturday, May 9, 2015 Where: Kansas Speedway , Kansas City, Kansas TV/Radio: FOX Sports 1, MRN/SiriusXM Distance: 267 laps (400.5 miles) Time: 7:30 p.m. ET Pit Road Speed: 45 mph Caution Car Speed: 55 mph Competition Caution: Lap 25 On The Front Row " Full starting lineup " See all 43 cars 1. Joey Logano , Team Penske No. 22 Ford (192.397 mph) 2. Kasey Kahne , Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet (191.911 mph) Failed To Qualify Brendan Gaughan , Premium Motorsports No. 62 Chevrolet Fastest In Practice First Practice: Kevin Harvick , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet (190.772 mph) " Results Final Practice: Erik Jones , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota (191.306 mph) " Results Driver Rating Best driver rating average at Kansas based on past 14 races: Jimmie Johnson , Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet (112.1) Matt Kenseth , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota (105.6) Kyle Larson , Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates No. 42 Chevrolet (103.9) Greg Biffle , Roush Fenway Racing No. 16 Ford (102.8) Jeff Gordon , Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet (100.5) Defending SpongeBob SquarePants 400 Champion Jeff Gordon , Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet Former Kansas Winners In Field Jeff Gordon (3); Greg Biffle , Jimmie Johnson , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart (2), Denny Hamlin , Kevin Harvick , Brad Keselowski , Joey Logano , Ryan Newman (1) Happy and Sad Former Kansas winner Kevin Harvick had an interesting Friday at Kansas Speedway , topping the first practice session with a speed of 190.722 mph, then inexplicably placed 35th in the final session at 185.471 mph. The Mentee Teaches Carl Edwards has a new teammate this weekend in 18-year-old Erik Jones , filling in for the injured Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Toyota. Jones just happened to top final practice — heading into what will be his first Sprint Cup Series start. "I haven't talked with Erik (Jones) much. I talked to him a little bit today. As fast as he is … the advice will be going the other direction it seems like. He's very good and it's really exciting to see someone that fast. A Racetrack Under the Sea? Saturday’s forecast calls for heavy rain, putting the status of throwing the green flag into question. Thankfully, SpongeBob SquarePants – whom the race is named after – is, you know, a sponge, so hopefully he can aid the Air Titans in drying the track if it's necessary. RELATED: Live weather updates from Kansas Coming From the Back Brad Keselowski holds the distinction of winning after qualifying deepest in the field, winding up in Victory Lane after starting 25th in 2011. The race has been won from the pole four times ( Joe Nemechek , 2004; Johnson, 2008; Kenseth, 2013; Harvick 2013). Home Sweet Home? Three Sprint Cup Series drivers consider Kansas /Missouri home, but not all three consider Kansas Speedway their home track. Here's what Clint Bowyer (Emporia, Kansas ), Carl Edwards (Columbia, Missouri) and Jamie McMurray (Joplin, Missouri) said what a win would mean for them. Bowyer: "It would be awesome to win here. We're going to need a hospital if we win here. … If we win, there could be a flamethrower in Victory Lane." Edwards: "The thought of winning here, winning that ( Camping World Truck Series) race here, I could hear the crowd over the engine – I'd never heard that before. I never had anything like that happen. There's so many people from my hometown and so many people that I've raced with that are going to be here, to run well here would be special." McMurray: "This isn't a home track because we've all raced here the same amount of times. It's not like we grew up racing here. It would be special to win here, but it would be special to win anywhere." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule