Joey Logano Wins the First NASCAR Cup Dirt Race in 51 Years at Bristol

Jared C. Tilton - Getty Images

BRISTOL, TN – RIS – It wasn’t easy, but Joey Logano became the first NASCAR Cup Series driver to win a dirt race In 51 years.  Logano took the lead late in the second stage and won the final stage and the race.  Conditions were iffy all week due to large amounts of rain that caused flooding in the parking lots of the racetrack, but inside, fans were treated to a good show and a surprising winner. Logano drove away from Denny Hamlin during the 50-lap final stage and drove away from Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Hamlin on a two-lap restart to end Monday's rain-delayed race.  The race was the first Cup Series race on a dirt surface since 1970.

Hamlin finished third after Stenhouse passed him on the penultimate lap. Martin Truex Jr. fell from third to 19th on the final two laps after a cut tire on the final restart. Truex dominated the first portion of the race.

Like the days before progressive banking changed the track, it looked like the racing of years passed at the short track.  The predominant groove was the bottom lane as drivers weren't able to get anything going in a second groove.

There were problems that probably weren’t anticipated. The track was so dusty that NASCAR had to make a couple of in-race tweaks. NASCAR extended the stage break at Lap 200 of the 250-lap race to wet down the track and prepare it further. That move came after NASCAR ditched double-file restarts during the second stage after two wrecks right after restarts. It didn’t damper Logano’s enthusiasm.

“Bristol on dirt!  This is incredible,” Logano said.  “I was worried because all of those newcomers winning, so I thought that I needed to get a win to make the playoffs.  We took care of that.”

Logano led 61 of the 253 laps in the Food City Dirt Race, driving his Team Penske No. 22 Ford to a .554-second margin of victory at the checkered flag. His first win of the season was his third at Bristol and the 27th of his Cup Series career.

Logano’s win extended the series’ streak, making it seven different winners in seven races to start the season.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished second in the JTG Daugherty Racing No. 47 Chevrolet, just ahead of Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Daniel Suarez snagged fourth place in the best showing for the new Trackhouse Racing Team with Ryan Newman completing the top five.

Truex, who scored his first Camping World Truck Series win on the Bristol dirt, prevailed in Stage 1 and led a race-high 126 laps before fading to a 19th-place finish with a flat tire in overtime. He gave way to Suarez on Lap 135, who held the point for the next 58 laps until Logano took charge to win Stage 2. Logano stayed in front the rest of the way, leading the final 61 laps.

The race was slowed by a handful of multi-car wrecks that thinned the field of contenders. A Lap 51 crash knocked dirt-track specialists Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell out of the running for the win early. Bell lost control of his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the high line, collecting Larson’s No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and Ross Chastain’s No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevy in its wake. 

The race was marred by 15 cautions and three red flag periods.

The NASCAR Cup Series will be idle next weekend for the Easter holiday, returning to action April 10 at Martinsville Speedway

Unofficial Results: 61st Annual Food City Dirt Race: March 29, 2021, Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt

Fin, Str, Driver, Car, Laps, St1, St2, Tms Led, Laps Led, Playoff Pts, Pts, Status
1) 10, Joey Logano, 22, Shell Pennzoil Ford, 253, 6, 1, 1, 61, 6, 55, Running
2) 13, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 47, Kroger Chevrolet, 253, 9, 6, , , , 42, Running
3) 2, Denny Hamlin, 11, FedEx Freight Toyota, 253, 3, 3, 1, 1, , 50, Running
4) 18, Daniel Suarez, 99, Camping World Chevrolet, 253, 4, 2, 1, 58, , 49, Running
5) 14, Ryan Newman, 6, Oscar Mayer Cold Cuts Ford, 253, 8, 5, , , , 41, Running
6) 8, William Byron, 24, Liberty University Chevrolet, 253, 2, , , , , 40, Running
7) 27, Tyler Reddick, 8, BetMGM Chevrolet, 253, , 9, , , , 32, Running
8) 3, Ryan Blaney, 12, Advance My Track Challenge Ford, 253, 5, , , , , 35, Running
9) 24, Erik Jones, 43, Tide/Food City Chevrolet, 253, , 8, , , , 31, Running
10) 26, Chase Elliott, 9, NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, 253, , 10, , , , 28, Running
11) 20, Brad Keselowski, 2, Discount Tire Ford, 253, , , , , , 26, Running
12) 16, Michael McDowell, 34, Love's Travel Stops Ford, 253, , , , , , 25, Running
13) 12, Matt DiBenedetto, 21, Menards/Quaker State Ford, 253, , , , , , 24, Running
14) 11, Chris Buescher, 17, Fastenal Ford, 253, 10, , , , , 24, Running
15) 6, Kevin Harvick, 4, Busch Light Ford, 253, , , , , , 22, Running
16) 28, Kurt Busch, 1, Monster Energy Chevrolet, 253, , , , , , 21, Running
17) 4, Kyle Busch, 18, M&M's Messages Toyota, 253, , , 1, 7, , 20, Running
18) 22, * Ryan Preece, 37, BUSH'S Beans/Kroger Chevrolet, 253, , , , , , 19, Running
19) 5, Martin Truex Jr., 19, Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota, 253, 1, 4, 1, 126, 1, 35, Running
20) 25, Chase Briscoe #, 14, HighPoint.com Ford, 252, , , , , , 17, Running
21) 9, Austin Dillon, 3, Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Off Road Chevrolet, 252, , , , , , 16, Running
22) 7, Alex Bowman, 48, Ally Chevrolet, 252, , , , , , 15, Running
23) 32, Stewart Friesen(i), 77, Halmar International Chevrolet, 252, , , , , , 0, Running
24) 21, Cole Custer, 41, HaasTooling.com Ford, 252, , , , , , 13, Running
25) 33, Quin Houff, 00, Mane 'n Tail Chevrolet, 252, , , , , , 12, Running
26) 39, * Ty Dillon(i), 96, Bass Pro Shops Toyota, 252, , , , , , 0, Running
27) 19, Bubba Wallace, 23, DoorDash Toyota, 251, 7, 7, , , , 18, Running
28) 34, JJ Yeley(i), 53, Jacob Companies Chevrolet, 249, , , , , , 0, Running
29) 1, Kyle Larson, 5, Freightliner Chevrolet, 248, , , , , , 8, Running
30) 37, Josh Bilicki, 52, Junction Fuels Ford, 247, , , , , , 7, Running
31) 38, * Mike Marlar, 66, liftkits4less Toyota, 244, , , , , , 6, Accident
32) 31, Cody Ware(i), 51, Nurtec ODT Chevrolet, 242, , , , , , 0, Running
33) 36, Chris Windom, 15, NOS Energy Drink Chevrolet, 62, , , , , , 4, Engine
34) 15, Christopher Bell, 20, Irwin Trade Strong Toyota, 54, , , , , , 3, Accident
35) 17, Ross Chastain, 42, Clover Chevrolet, 52, , , , , , 2, Accident
36) 23, Aric Almirola, 10, Smithfield Ford, 39, , , , , , 1, Accident
37) 35, Shane Golobic, 78, Elk Grove Ford/NOS Energy Ford, 39, , , , , , 1, Accident
38) 30, Corey LaJoie, 7, NASCAR TRUCKS AT KNOXVILLE Chevrolet, 39, , , , , , 1, Accident
39) 29, Anthony Alfredo #, 38, Dude Wipes Ford, 39, , , , , , 1, Accident
(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series, (#) Rookie

Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 43 Mins, 53 Secs
Race Length: 253 Laps, 126.5 Miles
Average Speed: 46.313 MPH
Margin of Victory: 0.554 Seconds

Stage 1 Top 10: 19, 24, 11, 99, 12, 22, 23, 6, 47, 17
Stage 2 Top 10: 22, 99, 11, 19, 6, 47, 23, 43, 8, 9

Comments: Joey Logano has won the Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt, his 27th victory in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Prior to the start, the following vehicle(s) dropped to the rear of the field under penalty for the reason indicated: No. 5 (Engine Change), No. 21, No. 34 (Unapproved Adjustments). 

Caution Flags: 10 for 37 laps;
Laps: 42-45 (No. 10, 7, 38, 77, 78 Incident Backstretch [Red Flag: 00:06:30] [00]);
49-50 (No. 6, 24, 4, 14 Incident Backstretch / Competition  [18]);
54-59 (No. 5, 20, 4, 42, 14, 47 Incident Turn 2 [66]);
101 (Stage 1 Conclusion [14]);
151-151 (Competition [3]);
154-158 (No. 00, 3, 5, 12, 18, 34, 37, 48, 51, 53 Incident Frontstretch [None]);
161-169 (No. 2, 14 Incident Frontstretch [00]);
187-191 (No. 51, 53 Incident Turn 3 [66]);
201 (Stage 2 Conclusion [66]);
247-251 (No. 66 Spin Frontstretch [37]).

Lead Changes: 5 among 5 drivers;
K. Larson 0;
D. Hamlin 1;
K. Busch 2-8;
M. Truex Jr. 9-134;
D. Suarez 135-192;
J. Logano 193-253.

Sunoco Rookie of the Race:  Chase Briscoe, No. 14 

Ron Fleshman with John Davison

RIS NASCAR Editor.  Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.

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Volume 2021, Issue 3, Posted 8:02 PM, 03.29.2021