Joey Logano Defends Las Vegas Victory After Not Pitting In Closing Lapsby Camille Jones February 23, 2020 0 comments
LAS VEGAS – Joey Logano earned his first win of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season after taking the lead in a late-race restart in Sunday’s Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Logano earned his 24th-career race win after staying out under caution and driving off in the lead position with three laps to go. With a mix of new and old tires at the front of the field, the chaotic restart led to a tire rub on the car of William Byron, sending him back through the field and resulting in a crash following the white flag. At that point in time, the race was called and Logano was deemed the winner.
“Man, nothing like winning the Pennzoil 400 in front of this amazing crowd with this awesome yellow car right here in the front,” Logano said. “Man, this is a huge win, and nice to kick off the season with a W.”
It was a bit of miscommunication that left the No. 22 Pennzoil Ford of Logano on track, but it ultimately paid off.
“I’m not really sure what I was supposed to do,” said Logano, “but boy, we fought hard for this one today. Man, what a battle between Blaney and I and Chase Elliott and the 19 (Martin Truex Jr.) earlier in the race, and then to see this finish with Matt finishing second is great day for Wood Brothers and for Team Penske.”
After staying out on old tires, Matt DiBenedetto claimed the second finishing position. This marks a tie for his best finish in the NASCAR Cup Series.
“This is all just too surreal,” DiBenedetto said. “Tough to be that close, but, hey, this is only the second race of the season. So it was the strength of this team. It’s so cool to have the backing of all the people that allow me to drive this thing. It took so many people, Motorcraft, Quick Lane. To be driving this iconic car is so cool, Menards and Paul, I know you’re watching at home and proud and I can’t thank everyone in that whole family for this opportunity for it.”
Finishing in third was Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who used strategy throughout the race to extend his runs between pit stops. In the end, his team chose to stay out on old tires, allowing Stenhouse to earn a third-place finish on Sunday.
“Our Kroger Camaro was good,” Stenhouse said. “It wasn’t perfect by any means, but we know what we need to work on now, and it was cool to get a good solid run in this Camaro for everybody at JTG Daugherty Racing. Got to thank Hungry Jack, NOS Energy Drink and everybody that works on this car. So far so good. Two weeks, we’ve been fast this week, we weren’t bad this week, and we know what we need to work on, and I know Brian (Pattie, crew chief) and the boys will tune it up.”
Austin Dillon and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top five in the finishing order.
Bubba Wallace, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson and Ty Dillon completed the top-10.
In the closing laps of the race, Ryan Blaney led the way as Alex Bowman soared into the top-five of the running order, picking off each car and making his way into the second position. When the caution flag flew with seven laps to go for a spin by Ross Chastain. He was piloting the No. 6 Roush Fenway Ford for the injured Ryan Newman in Sunday’s race.
When the leaders pitted and drivers with old tires moved to the front of the field, three laps wasn’t going to be enough for those who pitted to return to their previous running positions and fight for the win.
Chase Elliott won both, Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the event, before finishing 26th, one lap down, due to a tire failure that sent his car into the wall.
The NASCAR Cup Series continues its “West Coast Swing” next weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California for the Auto Club 400 on Sunday, March 1. Live coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX.
Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images