Logano holds off Hamlin to win Bristol NASCAR Cup race

Penske Ford driver Joey Logano won Stage 2 and then led every lap of Stage 3 to win the Food City 500 NASCAR Cup race on the Bristol Speedway dirt track over Ricky Stenhouse Jr. who was 4th when the green-white-checkered waved but moved up to 2nd on the final lap.

Logano grabbed the lead from Daniel Suarez on Lap 193 of a scheduled 250 and held it the rest of the way through a caution for the second stage break and a late yellow that sent the race three laps beyond the prescribed distance.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished second in the JTG Daugherty Racing No. 47 Chevrolet, just ahead of Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Daniel Suarez snagged fourth place in the best showing for the new Trackhouse Racing Team with Ryan Newman completing the top five.

It was the NASCAR Cup Series’ first race on dirt since 1970.

Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

The race was run at a slow 67.430 mph.

Logano led 61 of the 253 laps in the Food City Dirt Race, driving his Team Penske No. 22 Ford to a 0.554-second margin of victory at the checkered flag. His first win of the season was his third at Bristol and the 27th of his Cup Series career.

Logano’s win extended the series’ streak, making it seven different winners in seven races to start the season.

“Man, it’s incredible,” said Logano, who won the second straight race for Team Penske and the 27th of his career, extending his streak of at least one victory per year to 10 years. “How about Bristol on dirt? This is an incredible, unbelievable race track—great job by everyone that prepped the track. Obviously, a lot of work over here the last few days (because of rain that forced postponement from Sunday). We did a lot of work in the dirt department here the last few weeks…

“Great car, obviously, to be able to execute the race that we did and get a win. I was getting nervous. There were so many first-time winners and different winners than there has typically been. I said, ‘We’ve got to get a win to make sure we get in the Playoffs,’ so it’s amazing to get this Shell/Pennzoil Mustang into Victory Lane at Bristol. There’s nothing like winning at Bristol, but putting dirt on it and being the first to do it is really special.”

Despite late brushes with the outside wall as he chased Logano, Hamlin now has three third-place finishes and six top fives this season.

“I really couldn’t see a whole lot,” referring to the dusty conditions late in the race. “I was kind of guessing. I thought I could, on that last restart, run the top in hard, but they didn’t prep it in-between cautions the way they did before. It was just marbles up there.

“Man, I thought I had a shot there. I cut the 22 (Logano) too many breaks there when he was cutting us off. They had a little better car, it looked like, there in the long run. Proud of this whole team—we’re third-best again.”

Two of the experienced dirt drivers expected to battle for the victory were eliminated from contention in one dramatic wreck two laps after the restart that followed the first competition caution.

Running second on Lap 53, Christopher Bell spun in the top lane in Turn 2. Kyle Larson, running the top lane behind Bell, plowed into his chief dirt-track rival in a wreck that also involved Kevin Harvick and Ross Chastain.

“Way to go, Bell—way to go,” Larson said sarcastically on his team radio after the wreck. Larson, at least, was able to continue but lost two laps during repairs. Bell and Chastain fell out of the race in 34th and 35th place, respectively. Larson finished 29th, five laps down.

“I was just trying to run the water in under yellow,” Bell said after a visit to the infield care center. “I knew it was a little bit slick, but I felt like I could go up there and make some time, and I kind of entered shallow underneath of it and tried to pick it up on exit, and it was just really greasy up there.

“That was a lot of fun, being able to be out there for that first run was really cool and hate it that I can’t be out there longer.”

Worn tires  during the NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Truex, who scored his first Camping World Truck Series win on the Bristol dirt, prevailed in Stage 1 and led a race-high 126 laps before fading to a 19th-place finish with a flat tire in overtime. He gave way to Suarez on Lap 135, who held the point for the next 58 laps until Logano took charge to win Stage 2. Logano stayed in front the rest of the way, leading the final 61 laps.

The race was slowed by a handful of multi-car wrecks that thinned the field of contenders. A Lap 51 crash knocked dirt-track specialists Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell out of the running for the win early. Bell lost control of his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the high line, collecting Larson’s No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and Ross Chastain’s No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevy in its wake.

Bell and Chastain were sidelined, and Larson continued off the pace with a damaged car.

More to follow….

Race Results

1 22 Joey Logano Ford 253
2 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Chevy 253 0.554
3 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 253 1.315
4 99 Daniel Suarez Chevy 253 1.618
5 6 Ryan Newman Ford 253 1.812
6 24 William Byron Chevy 253 2.288
7 8 Tyler Reddick Chevy Chevy 253 2.316
8 12 Ryan Blaney Ford 253 2.451
9 43 Erik Jones Chevy 253 2.784
10 9 Chase Elliott Chevy 253 3.627
11 2 Brad Keselowski Ford 253 3.791
12 34 Michael McDowell Ford 253 4.027
13 21 Matt DiBenedetto Ford 253 4.134
14 17 Chris Buescher Ford 253 4.480
15 4 Kevin Harvick Chevy 253 5.014
16 1 Kurt Busch Chevy 253 5.175
17 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 253 5.725
18 37 * Ryan Preece Chevy 253 8.207
19 19 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 253 8.976
20 14 Chase Briscoe # Ford 252 -1 lap
21 3 Austin Dillon Chevy 252 -1
22 48 Alex Bowman Chevy 252 -1
23 77 Stewart Friesen(i) Chevy 252 -1
24 41 Cole Custer Ford 252 -1
25 00 Quin Houff Chevy 252 -1
26 96 * Ty Dillon(i) Toyota 252
27 23 Bubba Wallace Toyota 251 -2
28 53 JJ Yeley(i) Chevy 249 -4
29 5 Kyle Larson Chevy 248 -5
30 52 Josh Bilicki Ford 247 -6
31 66 * Mike Marlar Toyota 244 -9
32 51 Cody Ware(i) Chevy 242 -11
33 15 Chris Windom Chevy 62 -191
34 20 Christopher Bell Toyota 54 -199
35 42 Ross Chastain Chevy 52 -201
36 10 Aric Almirola Ford 39 -214
37 78 Shane Golobic Ford 39 -214
38 7 Corey LaJoie Chevy 39 -214
39 38 Anthony Alfredo # Ford 39 -214 laps


Average Speed of Race Winner:  46.313 mph.
Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 43 Mins, 53 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.554 Seconds.
Caution Flags:  10 for 37 laps.
Lead Changes:  5 among 5 drivers.
Lap Leaders:   K. Larson 0;D. Hamlin 1;K. Busch 2-8;M. Truex Jr. 9-134;D. Suarez 135-192;J. Logano 193-253.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Martin Truex Jr. 1 time for 126 laps; Joey Logano 1 time for 61 laps; Daniel Suarez 1 time for 58 laps; Kyle Busch 1 time for 7 laps; Denny Hamlin 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 19,24,11,99,12,22,23,6,47,17
Stage #2 Top Ten: 22,99,11,19,6,47,23,43,8,9