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Joey Logano Scores First-Career Bristol Victory

by Pete McCole
Sunday, August 24, 2014

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Joey Logano
Getty Images for NASCAR
Joey Logano picked up his first-career Bristol Motor Speedway victory on Saturday night, beating out his Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski for his third win of the season and a share of the lead in the standings for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Logano passed Matt Kenseth for the lead with 44 laps to go and then held off Keselowski in the final lap to secure his sixth-career Sprint Cup victory.

Kenseth held on for third, followed by Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch.

Logano's victory ties him with Keselowski, Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., for the most this season, putting them atop the ladder for the Chase for the Sprint Cup field with two races remaining in NASCAR's "regular season".

"This is like one of the three biggest races of the year, and to have this in the record books with your name on it is really, really cool," said Logano, who is officially fourth in the points standings. "What a year we're having.  I'm having so much fun.  The past six or seven races have been unbelievable.  We've been running up front and it's just been so much fun."

Joey Logano leads the lapped car of Danica Patrick
Getty Images for NASCAR
Logano has made the Chase field in each of his two seasons at Penske, and with three victories under his belt this season is looking like a legitimate contender for his first Sprint Cup title.

"It's definitely the best shot I've ever had at winning the championship," said Logano. "I know inside, this 22 team, this whole 22 team feels like we're contenders to win this championship.  You know, it would be really weird if we didn't think we were.  We've got three wins right now, we've got a good shot."

Team Penske drivers swept the weekend's events at Bristol, with Penske driver Ryan Blaney winning Friday night's Nationwide Series race and Keselowski taking the checkered flag in Thursday's truck race, albeit driving for his own team.

Keselowski came close to making it 2-for-3 with a desperate last-turn effort for the lead, diving to the low side of turn four under Logano, but couldn't make the move stick as Logano powered ahead on the high side coming out of four to hold on for the win.

"That was a hard night, I swear this is the most grueling race of the year," said Keselowski. "It feels good just to complete it and be able to kind of look myself in the eye and know I gave it all I had and it just wasn't enough, but I didn't fall out of the seat.  I'm damn near as proud of not falling out of the seat as I am anything else, but it was a heckuva weekend for everyone at Team Penske."

For Kenseth, Saturday night's third-place finish was just another missed opportunity to clinch a spot in the Chase field.

Kenseth was running in the top five when the ninth and final caution flag waved in lap 432. Jamie McMurray, who had led a race-high 148, ducked to pit road along with Logano and Keselowski.

Gambling that racing up front in clean air was their best shot at winning, Kenseth and his crew rolled the dice and elected not to pit, instead moving up to take the lead with Carl Edwards – who also decided not to pit – restarting second.

Back under green with 63 laps to go, Logano quickly began moving up from his sixth-place position on four fresh Goodyear tires, moving past Edwards on lap 441.

Kenseth, running on old tires, was a sitting duck as Logano tracked him down, ducking under the no. 20 Toyota in turn four with 44 laps to go.

With 32 to go, Keselowski shot past to take second, sending Kenseth to third place where he finished, earning his first top five in his last four races.

Kenseth is now 13th in the Chase standings and still in position to make the Chase even if he doesn't collect a win in the final two races.

"I wanted to win that thing in the worst way, but I just couldn't hold them off," said Kenseth. "I just knew that clean air was going to be worth more than new tires. Maybe we could have gotten tires and beaten those guys -- we'll never know. I knew when they lined up a couple rows behind me that it was going to be hard to hang on with old tires. We had to at least go down swinging."

Throughout Saturday night's race, the concrete coliseum at Bristol lived up to its reputation as a meat grinder, with several of the Chase contenders going home early.

Among the early exits was Denny Hamlin, who came into Saturday night's race seeded eighth in the Chase but fell out after contact with Kevin Harvick sent him spinning into the inside wall on the frontstretch, where he then caromed off and collected Earnhardt., Jr.

Both drivers were unhurt, but Hamlin showed his displeasure with Harvick by chucking his HANS Device at Harvick's car.

Kyle Busch also got caught up in an earlier incident with Clint Bowyer and spent some time behind the wall before finally dropping out of the race and finishing 36th.

Jeff Gordon finished 16th and retained the overall point lead by 27 points over Earnhardt, Jr.  Keselowski is third, followed by Logano and Kenseth.

Kenseth leads the wildcard standings among the drivers without a win looking for a spot in the Chase. Ryan Newman is 14th ahead of Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle. Kyle Larson, Kasey Kahne, Austin Dillon and Paul Menard are all still in the hunt with two races to go before the cutoff for the Chase.

Results

Pos No. Driver Manufacturer Start Laps Led Status
1 22 Joey Logano Ford 5 500 76 Running
2 2 Brad Keselowski Ford 9 500 46 Running
3 20 Matt Kenseth Toyota 16 500 62 Running
4 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 6 500 0 Running
5 41 Kurt Busch Chevrolet 7 500 0 Running
6 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr Ford 21 500 0 Running
7 99 Carl Edwards Ford 3 500 0 Running
8 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 18 500 148 Running
9 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet 17 500 0 Running
10 16 Greg Biffle Ford 8 500 0 Running
11 4 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 1 500 75 Running
12 42 Kyle Larson Chevrolet 40 500 0 Running
13 31 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 11 500 0 Running
14 47 AJ Allmendinger Chevrolet 22 500 0 Running
15 14 Jeff Burton Chevrolet 25 499 0 Running
16 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 2 499 17 Running
17 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 14 498 0 Running
18 95 Michael McDowell Ford 28 498 0 Running
19 51 Justin Allgaier Chevrolet 19 497 0 Running
20 78 Martin Truex Jr Chevrolet 23 497 0 Running
21 55 Brian Vickers Toyota 15 497 0 Running
22 40 Landon Cassill Chevrolet 39 497 0 Running
23 34 David Ragan Ford 29 496 0 Running
24 36 Reed Sorenson Chevrolet 36 496 0 Running
25 38 David Gilliland Ford 32 495 0 Running
26 13 Casey Mears Chevrolet 43 495 0 Running
27 10 Danica Patrick Chevrolet 24 493 0 Running
28 3 Austin Dillon Chevrolet 26 493 0 Running
29 98 Josh Wise Chevrolet 30 492 0 Running
30 26 Cole Whitt Toyota 34 492 0 Running
31 33 David Stremme Chevrolet 41 491 0 Running
32 23 Alex Bowman Toyota 27 489 0 Running
33 32 J.J. Yeley Ford 37 489 0 Running
34 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford 10 480 0 Running
35 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet 12 477 40 Running
36 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 4 442 8 Accident
37 83 Ryan Truex Toyota 33 338 0 Engine
38 7 Michael Annett Chevrolet 38 243 0 Accident
39 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 20 176 0 Accident
40 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 13 160 28 Accident
41 43 Aric Almirola Ford 42 123 0 Accident
42 66 Brett Moffitt Toyota 31 78 0 Engine
43 37 Dave Blaney Chevrolet 35 37 0 Overheating

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