Evan J. Smith
Freelancer
February 23, 2015
Photos By: Courtesy Ford

Joey Logano’s win in the “Great American Race” gave Ford a perfect 2015 race record with four wins in a row at Daytona International Speedway. Ford now remains undefeated at DIS in 2015 after cashing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck race, XFINITY Series event, Sprint Cup Daytona 500 and the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona last month.

The 2015 Daytona 500 was a thriller combining insane pack racing, wild spins and pit road strategy. Most times, the gaggle of 20-30 lead-pack drivers were separated by mere seconds, as they blasted at speeds over 200 mph fighting two- and three-wide for position. The Roush Fenway and Penske Fords ran strong all day, but there was drama when Brad Keselowski’s #2 Miller Lite Ford blew an engine mid-race. “It scares the crap out of you to be honest,” said Keselowski. “It’s a big explosion and you’re sitting right next to it, so it’s not fun. Once you get recovered from that, then all you can think about is you had a shot to win the race and that’s pretty cool.” Unfortunately, Ryan Blaney’s #21 Ford lost an engine shortly after, but Logano kept on pushing.

“You see cars, a lot of cars, and I saw we were single file the first three cars,” said Logano. “I knew that was a good thing because it would be harder for them to form a run,” Logano added. “Then I saw them crash in the mirror, but I had a distance to go and I thought that was good because it was still going to be harder for them to catch up without as many cars in the pack. Then the caution came out anyway. That feeling of winning the Daytona 500—I can’t explain how cool this is. This was our worst race track last year and we worked really hard to figure out how we could get better at it and all the hard work got us the win today.”

Logano was elated and grateful to his family and team during his post-race interviews. “What an amazing moment. Wow. To win this race is just amazing,” said Logano, who at 24 is the second youngest winner of the Daytona 500. “I have the best team on pit road for sure. These guys are awesome. My spotter did a great job giving me the information I needed to get out front and stay out front before that last caution and be able to have a good restart there at the end. I knew I had the 15 behind me and Clint Bowyer was the best pusher I could find out there and was able to push me to the lead and I knew I wanted the outside to make sure he was behind me to work up there again.”

In dramatic fashion, Logano held off a charge from notable challengers such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer. A late-race caution and red flag gave teams and drivers the opportunity to strategize. Logano chose to restart on the high side of the track (leader has the opportunity to pick either lane on restarts) just ahead of Clint Bowyer. The race restarted with three laps to go and right away Bowyer gave Logano’s shiny Yellow and Red Pennzoil/Shell #22 Ford Fusion (owned by Roger Penske) a bump, forcing him forward and distancing him from the pack.

With only a half a lap to go there was a mid-pack wreck, causing Jeff Gordon to spin. It appeared the leaders would race back to the checker flag, but in the next moment the caution came out and Logano was declared the winner. “It feels just like the way you dream it. This is better than Disney World in here,” he stated.

Roush Fenway Claims First Victory

Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity series race was no less exciting as Ryan Reed scored the very first win in the series at Daytona for Roush Fenway Racing driving his #16 Lilly/American Diabetes Ford Mustang. Reed was diagnosed four years ago with Type 1 Diabetes.

“First of all, thoughts and prayers go out to Kyle [Busch, who crashed hard and suffered a broken leg during the race]. I heard that he was hurt in some way, so I hope he’s doing okay. It was amazing. I can’t describe the emotions and the feelings that go into the first win—so much hard work and sacrifice from all my guys—Seth [Barbour] and Jack and everyone who stood behind me. Like I said in Victory Lane, to be diagnosed four years ago with Type 1 Diabetes and to have Lilly Diabetes, American Diabetes Association, Ford, and Roush – everyone who stood behind me through it all – to get our first win at Daytona, get the first Xfinity win, there are just a lot of firsts there and it’s really exciting.”

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Jack Roush was also on hand and commented. “First of all, I just can’t say how excited I am to be here for the first win. I’m gonna sit down and make myself a list of all the firsts. I understand it’s the first Xfinity race that we’ve won at Daytona with a car like this, so that means a lot, but to be here with Ryan and Seth and Xfinity for their first event is just a wonderful thing. The guys worked hard. Of course, everybody that’s involved with NASCAR works hard all winter to get ready for the season, but we’ve had good speedway cars for a number of years, like Seth said, and to be able to close the deal and finish one-two tonight is really satisfying. It’ll be a happy shop in North Carolina on Monday when we’re able to celebrate this as a crew.”

Ford also took a win on Friday night in the NextEra Energy Resources 250 when Tyler Reddick held off a charging pack of rigs behind the wheel of his Brad Keselowski-owned Ford F-150.

“I just had all the confidence in the world in our trucks going into the race," Reddick said to NASCAR.com. "If we were able to get together, we were going to be able to do some great things together and help each other out. Once I knew we finally we got together on the front row for those restarts, I had a pretty good feeling that we were controlling the race and controlling the pack.

"I just can't tell you how much it means to have a teammate there helping me get my first win. I just hope I can do the same for him on down the road."