Logano fi­nally back on top af­ter win at Tal­ladega

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - SPORTS - By Jenna Fryer

TAL­LADEGA, ALA. » Joey Logano had a clear race track in his wind­shield and a pack of fel­low Ford driv­ers on his bumper. That com­bi­na­tion helped the Team Penske driver snap a nearly year­long los­ing streak.

Logano won Sun­day at Tal­ladega Su­per­speed­way to snap a streak that dated to April 30 of last year. That win at Rich­mond was later dis­qual­i­fied be­cause his car failed in­spec­tion, so the ben­e­fits from the vic­tory were stripped and it cost him a spot in the play­offs.

Out front at Tal­ladega, which is usu­ally the worst place to be in the clos­ing laps, Logano couldn’t be caught. His Ford team­mates were com­mit­ted to get­ting a Ford the win, and they waited pa­tiently in line un­til the clos­ing laps to make their at­tempt at snatch­ing the vic­tory away from Logano.

Only Kurt Busch was bold enough to make an early move, and he wrongly thought de­fend­ing race win­ner Ricky Sten­house Jr. would go with him. Sten­house didn’t get to Busch in time, Kevin Har­vick wasn’t pre­pared for Busch to go so early, and Busch couldn’t gar­ner enough steam to catch Logano.

Logano sailed to an easy vic­tory at a track where he should have been forced to de­fend sev­eral at­tempts at a pass on the fi­nal lap.

“I re­ally thought (Busch and Har­vick) were the cars, no mat­ter where they went, if they got to the out­side of me, I was hosed. I knew that. That would have been the end of it for me,” Logano said. “I would have got­ten passed by pretty much the whole train. I would have lost so much mo­men­tum. I knew they were go­ing to work to­gether, as they should. Once they got picked apart, think that was the game changer.”

It was Logano’s third win at Tal­ladega.

Busch fin­ished sec­ond, his ca­reer best fin­ish at Tal­ladega, as Ford driv­ers went 1-2.

Chase El­liott was third in a Chevro­let for Hen­drick Motorsports, while Kevin Har­vick was fourth in a Ste­wart-Haas Rac­ing Ford. Ricky Sten­house Jr. was fifth, David Ra­gan sixth and Aric Almirola sev­enth as Ford driv­ers took six of the seven spots.

El­liott said the Fords had too strong and steady of a strat­egy for him to have any chance at mak­ing a move to catch Logano.

“I thought for sure one of them wanted to win more ca­reer than they showed,” El­liott said. “If it was me, I would have wanted to do some­thing or try. They were not in­ter­ested in ad­vanc­ing. They were not go­ing to help me move for­ward.”

Busch said his in­ten­tion was to work with Sten­house to help SHR get a vic­tory from ei­ther Busch or Har­vick.

“Two Ste­wart-Haas cars run­ning sec­ond and third should have been able to pull this off,” Busch said. “I’m happy that a Ford won. It wasn’t the right one. Kevin was in good po­si­tion. I was go­ing to roll with him in any di­rec­tion that I could. We just got bro­ken up by Sten­house.

“You wish you could go over and do it again. I feel like I left that one out on the ta­ble. “

Har­vick felt Busch his move too early.

“The Fords are so fast, we had five or six lined up there, and Kurt went a lap be­fore I was ready,” Har­vick said.

JOHN­SON LOS­ING STREAK

made

Seven-time NASCAR cham­pion Jim­mie John­son’s los­ing streak hit 33 races when he fin­ished 12th.

He was part of a 14-car ac­ci­dent late in the race when he slid in front of team­mate Wil­liam By­ron to start the melee that knocked out two Team Penske cars — Brad Ke­selowski and Ryan Blaney — as well as sec­ond stage win­ner Paul Me­nard.

John­son thought as he closed in on By­ron, the air was taken off his Chevro­let.

“I was in the sec­ond lane and he came up near my lane and then packed air un­der­neath us and around it went,” John­son said.

McMUR­RAY’S LONG WEEK­END

Jamie McMur­ray was in­volved in two ac­ci­dents at Tal­ladega, in­clud­ing a frightening crash dur­ing a prac­tice ses­sion in which his Chevro­let rolled sev­eral times.

He didn’t catch any breaks on Sun­day and was in an early ac­ci­dent that led to a 28th-place fin­ish.

HARD TO DRIVE

The rules pack­age NASCAR used Sun­day at Tal­ladega made the cars dif­fi­cult to drive and changed the dy­namic of a race that usu­ally is marked by mul­ti­ple ac­ci­dents.

“The cars weren’t han­dling re­ally good, so you had to be very cau­tious with the runs that you had and where you had them,” John­son said.

Driv­ers weren’t able to make big moves or sling­shot passes, and it cre­ated a lot of sin­gle-file rac­ing.

“I think the cars are a hand­ful to drive and I think that is why we have seen a lot of sin­gle file rac­ing, just be­cause every­body’s con­fi­dence in their cars isn’t as high as it has been in the past,” Kyle Lar­son said. “Less big moves and stuff, so I think it kind of gets sin­gle file be­cause of that.”

BRYNN AN­DER­SON — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Joey Logano cel­e­brates in Vic­tory Lane af­ter winning the GE­ICO 500 at Tal­ladega Su­per­speed­way, Sun­day. It was Logano’s first in in al­most a year.

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