Logano Fends Off Keselowski for Bristol Victory

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

As the Chase for the Sprint Cup nears, drivers are stepping up their game. Joey Logano ran exceptionally well and took a commanding victory Saturday night in the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. His championship-caliber performance provides the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion team with the confidence needed to make a run at the title.

One-hundred laps into the race, you could not have predicted a Logano victory. Many storylines involving cars capable of pulling off the win provided game-changing moments throughout the race.

Early on, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, and Kyle Busch looked to have the dominant machines. Busch’s day took a turn for the worse as soon as the competition caution came out on Lap 60. A pit-road speeding penalty placed him back in the field where he would run into trouble later on.

The first of two major accidents came on Lap 126. A tight battle between Brian Vickers and Kyle Larson led to contact which sent the No. 55 car down the track and into Aric Almirola. Almirola would spin and hit the inside wall before sliding back up the track and backing into the outside wall.

Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer were also involved as contact between the two sent the No. 18 car spinning. Despite only receiving minor damage; he was never able to recover.

Pit strategy allowed Denny Hamlin to gain the lead on the ensuing restart. He maintained the position until Harvick closed in. As the two were battling side-by-side off of turn 4, contact sent Hamlin spinning into the inside wall. His car then drifted up the speedway where Dale Earnhardt Jr. clobbered it, causing extensive damage to both.

Hamlin showed his displeasure afterwards by throwing his HANS-device towards the No. 4 car form the track apron.

From the halfway point until the final yellow-flag flew, Jamie McMurray became the one to beat. He held an impressive lead and had a car capable of winning. A victory would have done great things for the No. 1 McDonald’s Chevrolet SS team as they need a win to earn a spot in the Chase.

Under the ninth and final caution of the race, he opted to pit while some drivers remained on track. His car didn’t react well to running in traffic and he never recovered.

Although Team Penske teammates Logano and Brad Keselowski also pitted, they managed to work their way back to the front. Logano took the lead for the final time from Kenseth with 45 laps to go. Keselowski would close in on numerous occasions. He could never quite catch him which allowed Logano to score victory.

Another opportunity for a driver outside of the Chase Grid to win and gain a spot in the Chase has come and gone. While there are still two races remaining, many drivers needing a win came very close to punching their ticket to the playoffs, but came up a little bit short.

The final Labor Day race weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway appears next on the schedule. If last year’s event was any indication, another fantastic race is coming next Sunday night.

Results via ESPN.com

POS DRIVER CAR MANUFACTURER LAPS MONEY START LED PTS BONUS PENALTY
1 Joey Logano Ford 500 5 76 47 4 0
2 Brad Keselowski Ford 500 9 46 43 1 0
3 Matt Kenseth Toyota 500 16 62 42 1 0
4 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 500 6 0 40 0 0
5 Kurt Busch Chevrolet 500 7 0 39 0 0
6 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford 500 21 0 38 0 0
7 Carl Edwards Ford 500 3 0 37 0 0
8 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 500 18 148 38 2 0
9 Paul Menard Chevrolet 500 17 0 35 0 0
10 Greg Biffle Ford 500 8 0 34 0 0
11 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 500 1 75 34 1 0
12 Kyle Larson Chevrolet 500 40 0 32 0 0
13 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 500 11 0 31 0 0
14 AJ Allmendinger Chevrolet 500 22 0 30 0 0
15 Jeff Burton Chevrolet 499 25 0 29 0 0
16 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 499 2 17 29 1 0
17 Clint Bowyer Toyota 498 14 0 27 0 0
18 Michael McDowell Ford 498 28 0 26 0 0
19 Justin Allgaier Chevrolet 497 19 0 25 0 0
20 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet 497 23 0 24 0 0
21 Brian Vickers Toyota 497 15 0 23 0 0
22 Landon Cassill Chevrolet 497 39 0 0 0 0
23 David Ragan Ford 496 29 0 21 0 0
24 Reed Sorenson Chevrolet 496 36 0 20 0 0
25 David Gilliland Ford 495 32 0 19 0 0
26 Casey Mears Chevrolet 495 43 0 18 0 0
27 Danica Patrick Chevrolet 493 24 0 17 0 0
28 Austin Dillon Chevrolet 493 26 0 16 0 0
29 Josh Wise Chevrolet 492 30 0 15 0 0
30 Cole Whitt Toyota 492 34 0 14 0 0
31 David Stremme Chevrolet 491 41 0 13 0 0
32 Alex Bowman Toyota 489 27 0 12 0 0
33 J.J. Yeley Ford 489 37 0 0 0 0
34 Marcos Ambrose Ford 480 10 0 10 0 0
35 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet 477 12 40 10 1 0
36 Kyle Busch Toyota 442 4 8 9 1 0
37 Ryan Truex Toyota 338 33 0 7 0 0
38 Michael Annett Chevrolet 243 38 0 6 0 0
39 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 176 20 0 5 0 0
40 Denny Hamlin Toyota 160 13 28 5 1 0
41 Aric Almirola Ford 123 42 0 3 0 0
42 Brett Moffitt Toyota 78 31 0 2 0 0
43 Dave Blaney 37 Chevrolet 37 35 0 1 0 0
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