Joey Logano Celebrates His 300th Cup Series Start With A Win In Richmondby Camille Jones April 30, 2017 0 comments
RICHMOND, Va. – In his 300th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series start, Joey Logano took the lead with 17 laps to go on his way to capture the victory in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on Sunday.
After a quick pit stop on the ninth and final caution, Logano rolled out of the pits with four fresh tires and was prepared to race for the win. He held off his Team Penske teammate, Brad Keselowski for his 18th career series win. Logano originally started the race from the rear of the field due to a transmission change prior to the event. The driver of the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Fusion led just 25 laps over the course of the 400-lap race. Sunday’s victory marked Logano’s first of the 2017 season.
“The boys had a great stop which gave us good track position to pass the cars that stayed out,” said Logano. “We were able to have a good start, work our way past those cars and tried to take off the best I could. I knew the 2 (Brad Keselowski) was so much faster than everybody and I had to get out there as quick and as far as I could. He was on his way to catch me. I think he was catching me a couple tenths a lap. That was all I had inside the car and I burned them up early trying to go. I am proud of the effort of the team. We executed under pressure today and brought a car home that was a fifth to 10th-place car home to victory lane.”
Keselowski, Logano’s teammate, claimed second place in the race after leading 110 laps. The driver of the No. 2 Detroit Genuine Parts Ford Fusion started in the 15th position, but he battled all day long to earn his seventh top-10 finish of the season.
“Disappointed not to bring it home, but that’s just the way these things fall with double‑file restarts and half the field staying out and half the field not,” Keselowski said. “You kind of take the good with the bad on those deals.
“Got the outside lane and got behind two or three cars that I’m pretty sure I lapped six times today. Somehow they’re on the lead lap through wave arounds, and when the restart came we just were bottled up. By the time I cleared those guys, even through we were a little bit faster than Joey, he already had a straightaway on us, and I felt like if I had five or ten more laps, I could have gotten to him and passed him, but there was only a handful of laps left, so that was the way it went.”
Denny Hamlin finished in the third position. Stenhouse, Jr. rebounded from his early accident on lap 67 to finish in the fourth position, while Kevin Harvick was able to round out the top-five with a fifth-place finish.
Completing the top-10 was Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Aric Almirola and Martin Truex Jr.
The Toyota Owners 400 started off with a bang as Erik Jones in the No. 77 GameStop/Prey Toyota Camry cut tire and hit the wall, bringing out the first caution on lap 7.
“Well, we got three-wide right on the start and then the 5 (Kasey Kahne) ran us up into the fence,” Jones said. “I was trying not to wreck everybody and we got run into the wall by the 5 and then a couple laps later we cut a left front, so it’s really unfortunate.”
The next caution flag waved on lap 67 when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. made contact with the outside wall in his Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Fifth Third Bank Ford Fusion.
On lap 343, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was driven hard into the outside wall by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jimmie Johnson. Johnson said on his radio that he wasn’t aware that Earnhardt Jr. was outside his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet on the racetrack.
“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,” said Johnson who finished 11th. “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.”
Earnhardt Jr. had remained out on the track for the entirety of the green flag run before the caution came out. He also went for another spin on lap 358 due to a flat tire. Earnhardt Jr. finished a disappointing 30th.
“He said he didn’t see us,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “He had pitted and got tires and we were out there running around the top and weren’t ready to pit yet. He said he didn’t get any notice that he had a car outside. He was coming to pass me. I was running the top right against the fence and really wasn’t watching the mirror, so I didn’t know he was there or anybody was coming. TJ (Majors, spotter) was giving me pretty good warning about guys getting on my inside, but otherwise when you are running the top you don’t have to worry about it everybody kind of takes care of you, but Jimmie (Johnson) didn’t know we were there.
“Came off the corner and didn’t know the car was there. It was an explosion, but the car held up pretty well. It knocked the sway bar arm off of it, so we ran the last bit of the race without a sway bar hooked up.”
With 35 laps to go, Matt Kenseth’s No. 20 Circle K Toyota slowed at the top of the track with a flat tire. A caution followed for debris followed as Kenseth’s car limped to the pits. After starting on the pole, Matt Kenseth dominated the entire first stage of the event, and he went on to lead a race high of 164 laps. The driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Circle K Toyota Camry finished 23rd.
On lap 378, the caution flag flew for the final time when Ryan Blaney made contact with the outside wall. He obtained a flat tire after contact with Kurt Busch. The late caution brought on wild pit strategy and set the field up for an exciting 19-lap dash to the finish.
Kyle Larson who finished 14th now leads the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standings by 40 points over Martin Truex Jr.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns to competition at Talladega Superspeedway next weekend for the Geico 500 on May 13. Live race coverage will be found on FOX and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 2 p.m. ET.
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