Joey Logano Wins His First Dirt Race At Bristol Motor Speedway In Dramatic Fashionby Hunter Thomas March 29, 2021 0 comments
BRISTOL, Tenn. – Joey Logano survived NASCAR Overtime to win the Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway and become the seventh different winner of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Joey Logano made his way around Daniel Suarez with 61 laps to go in Monday’s dirt race, and as he navigated through lapped traffic and kept Denny Hamlin behind him, the final caution of the day came out with just four laps remaining. During the middle of the race, NASCAR announced that there would only be single file restarts for the remainder of the race, so all Logano had to do is have a solid restart, and that’s exactly what he did. Logano sailed into Turn 1, and he never looked back. The win marked his first of the season and the 27th of his career.
“Denny and I had a heck of a race because he found grip up top and I was like, ‘Well, I don’t know how to do that,’ so I had to go up there and try to figure that out to defend the lead position and then eventually just worked the lapped cars,” Logano said. “That was very hard as well as it should be. Everybody is racing to stay on the lead lap, so I was able to get through them as needed and, of course, the late-race caution but what an amazing team.”
Logano became the first driver in more than 50 years to win a NASCAR Cup Series race on dirt, and he did so in only his fourth dirt start in any type of race car. He becomes the 77th driver to win a series race on dirt.
“This is obviously my first dirt win,” Logano said. “It’s only my fourth dirt race ever, so I had a lot of fun trying to figure it out. I was having a blast racing, trying to find the right lanes, moving around, watching Denny figure out the top after they watered the track. I was like, ‘Oh no, now what do we do?’ So, just a crazy moment.”
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. benefitted from the NASCAR Overtime finish as he was able to advance to finish second. The runner-up is his first top-five effort of the season.
“Yeah, our Kroger Camaro was really good on the long run; we needed a little bit more NOS Energy Drink for the restarts,” Stenhouse said. “I just couldn’t get going; couldn’t get the turn in the race car that we needed.”
Hamlin had chased Logano down by running the high side, but hit the wall just prior to the NASCAR Overtime finish. He restarted with a damaged No. 11 FedEx Toyota and held on and finished third.
“Really had the top ripping there for a couple laps and that was my opportunity to get the 22 (Joey Logano),” Hamlin said. “Ran him back down and then just kind of stalled out there behind him. I went back to the top and jumped the cushion, got a bunch of damage and that was all she wrote. All effort there.”
Suarez had an impressive run as he raced up front for the majority of the 250-lap race. The Monterrey, Mexico native brought the No. 99 Camping World Chevy home in the third position. He even led 58 laps throughout the afternoon. The top-five effort marks the first-ever for newly formed team, Trackhouse Racing.
“To be honest, I had no idea what I was doing. But we’re having fun,” Suarez said. “Everyone at Trackhouse Racing did an amazing job. This is the second week in a row that we’ve had very fast race cars capable of running in the Top-5, Top-10. I couldn’t be more proud of all these guys (like) Justin Marks, Ty Norris, and everyone that helps in this program; Camping World, Chevy, CommScope. Everyone has been a huge support of myself. It just feels so good to be back. It’s been a little bit difficult the last year, and it feels so good to be able to race with these guys and to have some fun up front. Hopefully our time will come soon.”
Ryan Newman bounced back from an early-race spin to round out the top-five. Completing the top-10 was William Byron, Tyler Reddick, Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones and Chase Elliott.
The race only saw five lead changes among five different leaders. Martin Truex Jr. led a race high of 126 laps, but he finished a very disappointing 19th after he slid up the track on the NASCAR Overtime restart.
Throughout the race, there were 10 cautions for 37 laps. Six of the cautions were for multi-car accidents.
On Lap 42, Aric Almirola spun along the backstretch and pinballed after being hit by Shane Golobic, Corey LaJoie and Anthony Alfredo. The red flag was displayed for 6 minutes and 30 seconds for cleanup.
Ryan Newman spun on the backstretch after contact from William Byron on Lap 49. Kevin Harvick made a maneuver to miss the crash, but simultaneously, he pinched Chase Briscoe into the outside wall. Briscoe hit so hard that the front of his car left the ground.
The most chaotic crash of the afternoon occurred on lap 54, when Christopher Bell spun while running second. He collected Kyle Larson who was running fourth at the time. Larson had battled his way to the front after starting from the back. Larson wasn’t happy about the situation and pushed Bell down pit road and around the track.
The largest accident, which included a 10-car pile-up, occurred on lap 145. The accident took on a life of its own due to poor visibility from dust. Not long after, NASCAR made its decision to finish the race with single-file restarts.
The NASCAR Cup Series will take this weekend off for Easter but will be back in action on Saturday, April 10 for the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Live coverage will broadcast on FS1 at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images