Joey Logano Wins First Cup Race at Gateway
MADISON, IL – RIS – Joey Logano passed Kyle Busch in overtime to win the NASCAR Cup Illinois 300 race on Sunday afternoon. Logano passed Busch in Turns 3 and 4 on the final lap after Busch slid up the track. Busch had the lead ahead of the two-lap overtime finish, but Logano got the better restart and nosed ahead entering the first turn. Busch then crossed Logano over and had the edge down the backstretch, but his car didn’t stick in the groove in Turn 3 ahead of the 245th and final lap.
The two drivers battled for the lead after taking two tires on the race’s final set of pit stops and Busch took the lead from Erik Jones on lap 190 of the schedule 240-lap race. Logano got past him on lap 208 after a restart and led for 20 laps before Cole Custer crashed with less than 20 scheduled laps to go. Busch got the lead after that restart and had it when Kevin Harvick crashed on lap 235 because of an apparent brake failure.
The top ten finishers after Logano and Kyle Busch were Aric Almirola, Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex, and Eric Jones. Ross Chastain, Christopher Bell, and A.J. Allmendinger rounded out the top ten on the afternoon.
” It doesn’t get much better than that, Logano said. “Racing for the lead with Kyle was the best. It was a lot of fun. Crossing back and forth. I did it to him because he would do it to me.”
Logano got the lead in Turn 1. Busch crossed over and got the lead in Turn 3. Logano then dived underneath Busch to get the lead back in Turn 4 and went on to win.
“Who would have thought we had slide jobs like that here? I thought we would be running towards the bottom, and we were running way up top and crossing each other,” Logano said... “It was a lot of fun to race here and looking forward to coming back.”
Busch was subdued. “Our car just took too long to come in. Better on the long run. Better up top. Top is not good to fire off on, but great job by the Snickers guys. Again, we stayed in the running all day long and fought hard and thought maybe we could, but that was it.”
Sixth Place Ross Chastain provided a lot of things to talk about on the way home from the race. Chastain’s bump sent Denny Hamlin into the wall, leading to a caution on Lap 66. Hamlin expressed his dissatisfaction about 15 laps later, forcing Chastain down to the apron on the backstretch when Chastain went by the slower Hamlin. Later, Chastain was squeezed in the middle of three-wide on a restart just after Lap 100 and hit Chase Elliott, sending Elliott into the wall.
On the restart, Elliott lined up behind Chastain and hit the back of Chastain’s car, sending up the track. Hamlin, who restarted behind both then came by and hit the side of Chastain’s car. Hamlin was told on his radio that NASCAR said that was enough.
Logano seems to have a knack for winning at Cup race at tracks that are new to the circuit. He won the first dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway, won the Clash that opened the season at the L.A. Coliseum, and now World Wide Technology Raceway better known as Gateway. The track, slightly over a mile in length, is comparable to the flat half-mile short track at Martinsville, Virginia.
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.