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NASCAR Cup: Joey Logano dominates, wins at Martinsville

during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 28, 2018 in Martinsville, Virginia.

By AMANDA VINCENT

Joey Logano dominated the First Data 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Sunday, leading 309 of the 500 laps that made up the race en route to his second win of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season but his first-career win at Martinsville. With the victory, Logano locked up his spot among the championship four in next month’s season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“That was just a hard great race — NASCAR racing at its finest,” Logano said. “It was a lot of bumper banging towards the end and a hard race. You know; we didn’t wreck each other. We bumped into each other a lot and that is what this sport was built on. I know a lot of fans out there aren’t too happy about it, but it is racing, and that is what NASCAR is about and what stock car racing is. I am just glad we finally won here. It has been so long and we have had so many chances, and it feels like sweet redemption after everything that has happened here.”

Logano lost the lead to Martin Truex Jr. briefly on the final lap, but with contact, he retook the lead for the win. Denny Hamlin also got by Truex, as a result, to finish second.

“Great long run car. Mike (Wheeler, crew chief) and the team just did a great job of giving me a car that was exceptional on the long run,” Hamlin said. “Obviously, with the track cleaning up and it getting cooler and the short runs, it just didn’t suit our car well, but we made a great adjustment the last couple of stops and just got shuffled on some restarts trying to let our teammates in. That hurt our track position. We just needed to be a tenth of a second closer to the lead. It just took too long to get around the 18 (Kyle Busch) and 2 (Brad Keselowski) there with about 10 to go. We just couldn’t capitalize on those guys getting into each other.”

Truex wound up third. Kyle Busch finished fourth and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top-five a week after his elimination from the playoffs.

Truex and Keselowski started the race in the back, Truex becasue of a failed inspection and Keselowski because of an unapproved change to his car prior to the race.

“We had a good run, there,” Keselowski said. “We were really good on the short runs, but we struggled a little bit on the long runs, and it just didn’t end up playing out there for us at the end. It is good to see Joey get to victory lane. Happy for Team Penske.”

Busch was dominant early, leading 100 laps of the first 130-lap stage after starting on the pole. Hamlin, though, won the opening stage after twice taking the lead from Busch during the stage.

Logano won stage two after getting out of the pits first during the caution between the first two stages and leading most of the second stage. His dominance continued through the third stage that accounted for most of the second half of the race.

He lost the lead to Truex briefly on lap 360. Keselowski took the lead from Logano on lap 419, but when the yellow flag waved on lap 457 for the eighth and final caution of the race, Logano retook the lead by getting off pit road first.

Once Truex raced into the top-10 of the running order by lap 120, the eight playoff drivers ran inside or just outside the top-10 throughout most of the remainder of the race.

Playoff driver Kevin Harvick, though, did briefly fall off the lead lap. Although he was racing inside the top-15 late in the second stage, Logano lapped him in the closing laps of the stage. But Harvick got back on the lead lap when the second stage ended, courtesy of the free pass during the caution to start the final stage.

Harvick got back inside the top-10, finishing 10th.

“As the sun started to go down, our speed was definitely better,” Harvick said. “Everybody just kind of hung in there on our Busch Beer Ford. Our goal is always to come here and kind of just not defeat ourselves with a horrible finish. We had a good day. A decent day. Not a great day. Lost a few spots there at the end racing [Ryan] Newman. His car gets as wide as his neck there sometimes. You know; it is Martinsville and everybody is racing hard, and we wound up finishing 10th and we go to Texas and, hopefully, have a good day.”

Two of his Stewart-Haas Racing teammates, Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer, were the only two playoff drivers outside the top-10 at the checkered flag. Almirola finished 11th. Bowyer wound up 21st as a result of a late-race incident with Jimmie Johnson.

Caution-causing incidents included two fires. Timmy Hill’s car caught fire near the right-front wheel well, resulting in the sixth caution on lap 382. Larson’s car, then, caught fire on lap 397 when his engine blew.

Other top-10 finishers included playoff drivers Kurt Busch and Chase Elliott in sixth and seventh and non-playoff drivers Ryan Newman and Daniel Suarez in eighth and ninth.

“I need to win,” Elliott said. “I mean, playing the points game is nice, but I need another sticker.”

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Posted by on October 28, 2018. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,Monster Energy NASCAR Cup,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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