Logano pulls away to win NASCAR race at Rich­mond

Cape Breton Post - - Sports -

Joey Logano smiled as if he’d stolen some­thing and got away with it, and that wasn’t far from the truth.

Logano passed dis­tracted and dom­i­nant Penske Rac­ing team­mate Brad Ke­selowski on one restart and then pulled away on an­other with about 20 laps to go to win the Mon­ster Energy NASCAR Cup Se­ries race at Rich­mond In­ter­na­tional Race­way on Sun­day.

“We were just fast enough to break through and kind of steal a win,” Logano said. “We had a de­cent car. We were in the lead when the cau­tion came out there and we looked like we were in pretty good shape, and then, ob­vi­ously, to have the good pit stops and all that, I don’t know if you’d call that steal­ing. We didn’t get lucky. We were able to just do what we know how to do.”

Logano, who qual­i­fied fifth but had to start 37th af­ter mak­ing a trans­mis­sion change, grabbed the lead when Ke­selowski had to make a de­fen­sive move to keep Kyle Busch from pass­ing him on the inside. His 18th ca­reer vic­tory came in his 300th ca­reer start.

“I was driv­ing my guts out out there,” Logano said in Vic­tory Lane. “That’s all I had. We won with a car that may not have been a win­ning car, so that’s some­thing to be very proud of as a team. That means the ex­e­cu­tion was there and we were able to put our­selves in po­si­tion to race there hard at the end. Brad was the fastest car. He was so fast.”

Ke­selowski got stuck be­hind some slower cars on the fi­nal restart, let­ting Logano pull away by nearly 2 sec­onds.

“I think what we needed was about 10 more laps,” Ke­selowski said. He led six times for 110 laps

On the fi­nal restart, Logano had to get around Kyle Lar­son and five oth­ers who stayed on the track when ev­ery­one else pit­ted. He made quick work of that chal­lenge and pulled away while

Ke­selowski and Denny Ham­lin got caught in traf­fic du­el­ing for the sec­ond po­si­tion.

“That’s part of how this rac­ing deal works, and the fastest car doesn’t al­ways win,” Ke­selowski said.

Ke­selowski, who had the dom­i­nant car for the sec­ond half of the race, held on for sec­ond, fol­lowed by Ham­lin, Ricky Sten­house Jr. and Kevin Har­vick. Dale Earn­hardt Jr., in his first race since an­nounc­ing he will re­tire at the end of the sea­son, fin­ished 30th.

“We just didn’t have the speed that the other cars had,” a frus­trated Ham­lin said. “We fin­ished right where we should have.”

Ryan New­man, Jim­mie John­son and Dale Earn­hardt Jr. all took a chance when the rest of the field started mak­ing green­flag

stop with about 80 laps to go. The three stayed out hop­ing for a cau­tion flag that would al­low them to get new tires and re­main up front.

John­son even­tu­ally pit­ted, and then he brought about the cau­tion when he side-swiped Earn­hardt into the wall in the back­stretch, mak­ing the gam­ble pay off for New­man, who was likely to be passed shortly there­after by the hard-charg­ing Ke­selowski.

“I just have to try to fig­ure out if I just didn’t hear it be­ing told to me or if it wasn’t told to me,” John­son said. “I just feel ter­ri­ble, ob­vi­ously. Man, I’m sur­prised our cars even kept rolling af­ter that be­cause I just body slammed him into the wall and I could have eas­ily not heard the clear or some­thing else hap­pened. I don’t

know, but that’s the last thing you want to have hap­pen with a team­mate.”

New­man couldn’t cash in, how­ever, fail­ing to be a fac­tor at the end and fin­ish­ing 7th.

Pole-sit­ter Matt Kenseth led the first 163 laps, win­ning Stage 1, and raced in the top 10 un­til a flat tire with 35 laps to go.

NO SMILE FROM KYLE

Kyle Busch was fum­ing af­ter NASCAR flagged him for a com­mit­ment line vi­o­la­tion with 22 laps to go, drop­ping him to the back of the field. It was his sec­ond penalty of the day fol­low­ing an ear­lier one for speed­ing en­ter­ing the pits. That also put him to the back of the field, and he’d fi­nally made it back into con­tention when the sec­ond one ru­ined his day. He fin­ished 16th.

MIXED BAG Rich­mond moved the race from its typ­i­cal Satur­day night start time to Sun­day af­ter­noon, with mixed re­sults.

“The day race changes this track dra­mat­i­cally, and I think it makes it re­ally racy,” Ke­selowski said. ““I think it’s great. I think some of the best rac­ing here is dur­ing the day, but it’s hot and I know it’s hard for some of the fans to be up in the stands and go through all that.”

With tem­per­a­tures in the low 90s, the crowd was sparse.

UP NEXT

The se­ries goes from one ex­treme to the other as it fol­lows back-to-back short track events with a re­stric­tor plate race at 2.66-mile Tal­ladega Su­per­speed­way in Alabama.

AP PHOTO

Joey Logano cel­e­brates af­ter win­ning the NASCAR Cup Se­ries auto race in Vic­tory Lane at Rich­mond In­ter­na­tional Race­way in Rich­mond, Va., Sun­day.

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