Joey Logano Wins First-Career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championshipby Hunter Thomas November 18, 2018 0 comments
HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Joey Logano won the Ford EcoBoost 400 on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway en route to winning his first-career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship.
Logano moved Martin Truex Jr. out of the way back in October at Martinsville Speedway to punch his ticket to the Championship 4. On Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Logano held off Truex in the closing 12 laps of the Ford EcoBoost 400 to capture the title. Logano, the 28-year-old driver of the Team Penkse No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford led on four occasions for a race high of 80 laps.
“We did it,” Logano said. “We won the championship! I can’t believe it. I don’t know what to say. This team, Roger Penske, Todd Gordon, the pit crew. Oh my God. They gave me the car I needed at the end to do my job. Put me in position to do my job. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Joey Logano won three races throughout the 2018 season and captured 13 top-five and 26 top-10 finishes.
Truex, who was looking to defend his series title finished second. The race was the last for Colorado-based team, Furniture Row Racing. Truex will be moving to the No. 19 Toyota team at Joe Gibbs Racing in 2019. On Sunday, Truex ran up front all race long in the No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota. He led 20 laps, but in the end, Logano soared by, and Truex just didn’t have enough time to chase him down to challenge for the win.
“I just needed time,” Truex said. “That’s all I needed. They were faster than us for 15 or 20 laps all day long. It was like a reverse scenario from last year. Last year we took advantage of the short run car at the end – the 18 (Kyle Busch) car should’ve won the race and tonight we should’ve won the race and they (Joey Logano) took advantage of the short-run car. I don’t know what else we could’ve done. Honestly, we worked our guts out all weekend and just to get here, I told you earlier we shut a lot of people up and made them eat crow and that felt good. To come here and almost upset the field and almost win it back to back was really awesome. I just wish that last caution hadn’t come out. Other than that, I don’t know what we could’ve done.”
In his final season with Furniture Row Racing, Truex won four races and earned 20 top-five and 21 top-10 finishes.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick won Stage 1 and finished second in Stage 2, but the Championship 4 competitor finished third on Sunday. Harvick was out in front of the field on five occasions for 58 laps, but as the sun sunk below the horizon, the other three championship competitors reeled Harvick back in.
“Obviously, we got loose as the night went on,” said Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford. “Really, it was a great pit call there in position to win the race if the caution doesn’t come out and we came down to a pit stop and a restart and we didn’t do either good. I just hate it for all our guys on our Jimmy John’s Ford.”
Harvick finished out the 2018 season with eight wins, 23 top-five and 20 top-10 finishes.
Kyle Busch finished last in the Championship 4 after crossing the finish line in fourth. The Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 M&M’s Toyota team gambled on pit strategy, and it worked, but in the end, Busch didn’t have the speed to win. Busch led 21 laps on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“That was just the fact of the matter of nobody giving up,” Busch said about Sunday’s pit strategy. “Don’t give up behind the wheel and just keep driving and keep trying to swing a hail Mary and see what we could get. The strategy fell right in our lap and the pit stall fell right in our lap, but none of it meant anything if you don’t have a fast enough race car. I knew I was just a sitting duck on that restart. I figured I could hold them off for four laps or five laps maybe, but damn, not even a straightaway and they’re gone. That’s just all there is to it.”
Busch also ended the season with eight wins. He also captured 22 top-five and 28 top-10 finishes.
Logano’s teammate, Brad Keselowski completed the top-five. Rounding out the top-10 were Matt Kenseth, Chase Elliott, Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola and Kurt Busch.
There were only two accidents on Sunday. Kyle Larson blew a right rear tire in Turn 4 to bring out the caution on lap 194, and then on lap 248, the caution came out after Daniel Suarez spun in Turn 1 after contact with Keselowski.
The 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season will kickoff at Daytona International Speedway for the 61st running of the Daytona 500 on February 17.
Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images
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