Joey Logano took advantage of a three-car duel by sneaking below the trio to take the lead Saturday night, outrunning former champions Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski to win at Richmond International Raceway.
Instead, when Gordon, Kenseth and Keselowski raced in a triangle jockeying for position, Logano went underneath all three with three laps to go and then held off Gordon for his fifth career NASCAR Sprint Cup victory.
”That’s the best drive I’ve ever had here. What a crazy finish,” Logano said.
He also joined Kevin Harvick as the only drivers with more than one victory this season.
Kyle Busch, never in contention all night, rose to finish third, followed by Keselowski and Kenseth.
Kenseth and Keselowski had words post-race, with the fuming Keselowski saying Kenseth ran him off the track.
”I had a shot at winning the race and he ran me off the track,” Keselowski said. ”It was just a mind-boggling move to me. … I thought it was uncalled for.”
Gordon said Kenseth was doing what he needed to do to hang on.
”I think Matt did what he thought he had to do to win,” Gordon said. ”He started making his car real wide. He probably didn’t make the guys behind him real happy.”
Kenseth had come from nowhere after lurking in the back of the top 10 all race long, suddenly charging through the field and passing Gordon to grab the lead with 38 laps to go. It was his first lead.
Gordon, who led 173 laps, and teammate Earnhardt both seemed poised to challenge at the end, but after the final restart, Team Penske teammates Logano and Keselowski became the ones to watch.
All night long, their cars had easily been the fastest on fresh rubber.
”All night long, I just had to let the 2 and the 22 go right by me because they were so fast” on fresh tires, Gordon said about Keselowski and Logano.
Signs of the wild ending may have come very early.
Clint Bowyer started third and hoped a return to one of his best tracks would allow him to put last September behind him. That was when Bowyer’s intentional spin late in the last race before the playoffs jumbled the finishing order, and the drivers who made the Chase, leading to a NASCAR investigation.
Instead of a clean run, Bowyer hit rookie pole-sitter Kyle Larson on the opening lap, sending Larson spinning. He also twice pitted under a green flag, right before a caution flag came out, and was battling Danica Patrick for 38th place when a fire in his engine ultimately caused him to park for the night.
Average Speed: 93.369 MPH
Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 12 Mins, 47 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 0.946 Seconds
Lead Changes: 20 among 8 drivers
Cautions: 9 for 66 laps
Next Up: The teams return to their second superspeedway/restrictor plate race of the season with the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, May 4th. The race has an approximate starting time of 1:20 p.m. (ET) and television coverage of the event will be provided by FOX beginning with their 12:30 p.m. (ET) pre-race show.
Toyota Owners 400 Results:
|Pos.||Car #||Driver||# Laps||Status||Laps Led||Points-Bonus Points|
|7||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr||400||Running||7||38-1|
|10||78||Martin Truex Jr.||400||Running||0||34|
|16||42||Kyle Larson #||400||Running||0||28|
|21||51||Justin Allgaier #||400||Running||0||23|
|27||3||Austin Dillon #||398||Running||0||17|
|28||23||Alex Bowman #||398||Running||0||16|
|31||83||Ryan Truex #||396||Running||0||13|
|33||7||Michael Annett #||396||Running||0||11|
|38||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr||390||Running||0||6|
|41||26||Cole Whitt #||367||Running||0||3|
# – Rookie, (i) Ineligible for driver points in this series
Top 16 Drivers in Points (Unofficial):
|Pos.||Car #||Driver||Points||Behind||Starts||Wins||Top 5s||Top 10s||DNF|
|5||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr||309||-32||9||1||5||6||1|
|12||3||Austin Dillon #||252||-89||9||0||0||1||0|
|13||42||Kyle Larson #||251||-90||9||0||2||4||1|
|Drivers outside the Top 16 with a win.|
# – Rookie