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NASCAR Cup: Joey Logano marks 300th start with Richmond win

Joey Logano celebrates in victory lane after winning the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 30, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

Joey Logano celebrates in victory lane after winning the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 30, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

By AMANDA VINCENT

Joey Logano went from the back to the front in the Toyota Owners 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway on Sunday to claim his first win of the 2017 race season in his 300th-career Cup Series start. Logano qualified fifth on Friday, but because of a transmission change, he had to drop to the back at the drop of the green flag.
“I am proud of the effort of the team,” Logano said. “We executed under pressure today and brought a car home that was a fifth to 10th-place car home to victory lane.
Brad Keselowski finished second after leading 110 laps of the 400-lap race to give Team Penske a one-two finish. He also claimed his first stage win of the season by passing Matt Kenseth on lap 164 and winning stage two at lap 200.
“Disappointed not to bring it home, but that’s just the way these things fall with double-file restarts and half the field staying out and half the field not,” Keselowski said. “You kind of take the good with the bad on those deals.”
Matt Kenseth led a race-high 164 laps, including the first 163 laps and, like Keselowski, claimed his first stage win of the season by winning stage one. His first laps led at Richmond on Sunday were the first laps Kenseth led in 2017, nine races into the season. But after Keselowski took the lead, Kenseth only led one other lap. He suffered a cut tire with 35 laps to go and wound up going a lap down.
Denny Hamlin finished third, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was fourth and Kevin Harvick was fifth. Other top-10 finishers included Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Aric Almirola and Martin Truex Jr.
Keselowski and Logano stayed out while everyone else pitted during a caution with 34 laps to go. As Keselowski battled Kyle Busch, Logano took the race lead. After staying out, Logano and Keselowski pitted when the yellow flag waved for the ninth and final time with 24 laps remaining. Logano got off pit road first, but he restarted seventh when six drivers opted to stay out. Logano was back in the lead by 16 to go, and with 13 laps remaining, Keselowski got back up to second. Busch got off pit road right behind Logano, but a commitment-line violation sent him to the back.
“I didn’t really discuss it (pit strategy) much with Todd (Gordon, crew chief),” Logano said. My thought process was, ‘Oh no!’ right after we stayed out, but we were able to maintain the lead. I don’t think we would have been able to win the race and hold off Kyle if it had stayed green. The caution came out. The boys had a great stop, which gave us good track position to pass the cars that stayed out. We were able to have a good start, work our way past those cars and tried to take off the best I could.”
After winning the second stage, Keselowski twice lost the lead to Hamlin on pit road. But each time, after several laps, Keselowski got back to the lead.
When most of the race field cycled through pit stops around lap 80, Hamlin and Harvick got out of the pits ahead of Keselowski after pitting a lap earlier, but their three-car battle was for fourth behind Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson, who stayed out, hoping to get to pit under caution. The caution came, but hard contact between Earnhardt and Johnson were the cause of it.
“I just have to try to figure out if I just didn’t hear it being told to me (that Earnhardt was beside him) or if it wasn’t told to me,” Johnson said. “I just feel terrible, obviously. Man, I’m surprised our cars even kept rolling after that, because I just body-slammed him into the wall, and I could have easily not heard the clear or something else happened. I don’t know, but that’s the last thing you want to have happen with a teammate.”
Newman benefited, as he pitted, along with the other frontrunners, who pitted again.
Keselowski got off pit road first and, as a result, retook the lead.
Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (facebook.com/nascarexaminer)

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Posted by on April 30, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,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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