Zipadelli deserves the credit for Logano's first win
Chris Symeon, Motorsports Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Joey Logano didn't have the best car Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, but his crew chief, Greg Zipadelli, made the best call in the rain-shortened race.
Logano, 19, became the youngest driver ever to win a race in the series, but it came in the most unusual circumstances.
The rookie driver overcame a one-lap deficit twice and then conserved enough fuel before the event was called 28 laps short of the 301-lap distance due to inclement weather.
When Logano cut a tire and spun on lap 183, he pitted out of sequence from the race leaders. Several laps later, Scott Speed crashed hard into the wall, allowing Logano to get back on the lead lap via the "lucky dog" pass.
While green-flag pit stops took place in the late-stages, Zipadelli made the call to keep Logano on the track as long as the fuel would hold up. It turned out to be the winning move.
"We were lucky, but we put ourselves in position because we were behind," Zipadelli said. "Because we did have the problems, it allowed us to pit, top off with fuel and do some of the things [early] that the guys up front that were guarding their track position [did later], which is pretty normal here."
Logano moved in front for the first time on lap 263 when then leader Ryan Newman ran out of fuel and coasted into his pit stall. Three laps later, NASCAR displayed the yellow flag for rain.
Greg Zipadelli (L) previously guided Tony Stewart to two Cup championships and 33 victories.
During the caution, Logano turned the engine off and coasted as much as he could without relinquishing the lead to second-place Jeff Gordon.
"We probably could have gone four to six more laps," Zipadelli added. "We would have had to have make a decision somewhere around four to five. We were close to running out, and depending where you are on the racetrack and the situation we were in, we were basically going to stay out until we ran out of field."
Gordon's attempt to have Logano run out of gas during the caution failed to bear fruit when NASCAR halted the race after 273 laps and called it shortly after.
"I was just running pace car speed, and it allowed me to get to the outside of him and make him start his engine and use some fuel, and he didn't like that," Gordon said. "I didn't want to push him, and I didn't want to back off, because that was our only shot was for him to run out of fuel."
NASCAR declared Logano the winner, while Gordon settled for a second-place finish.
"I was coasting as long as I could, shutting the motor off, and Jeff was going to make me fire that thing up and burn as much as fuel as I could" Logano said after winning his first Cup race in just his 20th start.
Zipadelli, known as "Zippy," previously guided Tony Stewart to two Cup championships and 33 victories, including three during his sensational 1999 rookie season.
Stewart later left Joe Gibbs Racing to serve as both driver and owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, while Logano hopped into the seat of the No.20 Toyota at the start of this season.
After the race, Stewart walked up to his former crew chief to congratulate him.
"(Tony) just laughed and said, 'This is the win that got away from us last year due to weather, isn't it?'" Zipadelli said.
It didn't get away from Zipadelli this time.
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