Richmond NASCAR: Joey Logano comes from last to lead Penske one-two

Doyle BarkerMay 01, 2017

Kyle Busch saw his winless drought continue at Richmond Sunday despite being in position for a win late in the Toyota Owners 400.

A third-place finish at Richmond International Raceway was little consolation for Virginia native Denny Hamlin, who craves victory at his home track but knows his cars aren't yet fast enough to outrun the best in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

But there was Logano, steadily weaving his way through an unpredictable field all afternoon in 90-degree heat and using pit strategy to take control in the final 17 laps of a race that at times bordered on freakish. He took the lead for good three laps later en route to his first win of the season.

"I just have to try to figure out if I just didn't hear it being told to me or if it wasn't told to me", Johnson said.

Joey Logano nabbed his first victory of the season, holding off Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski by about 10 vehicle lengths. That gamble paid off especially for Logano because, 10 laps later, Ryan Blaney made contact with the wall to spur the final caution of the day.

Who says second place is the first loser?

First, Matt Kenseth led the opening 164 laps easily. He finished last in the 38-car field. Obviously, we were trying a wild strategy to stay out. We weren't going to be able to beat them straight up. He became the seventh driver to win a Cup race in 2017 and he did it in his 300th career start in the series. "Of course we love our core fan and everyone does, but every sport is thinking carefully about how to reach the millennial fan to get them excited about their sport". "But, we were probably going to finish anywhere around 10th to 15th today, not all that awesome, but (sigh) we just had such bad luck".

Winless championship favorites: Yearly championship hopefuls such as Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Joey Logano all have wins at Richmond, and have yet to win in 2017.

Logano and Keselowski had stayed out under the penultimate caution on Lap 367 and appeared vulnerable to the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas of Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch until NASCAR called the final yellow five laps after the restart on Lap 377.

Then on lap 376 Kurt Busch bumped the Wood Brothers' famous No. 21 and cut its left-rear tire, sending Blaney into the wall ending his day. He sits 24th in the standings, earning just one top-five finish, and sits 50 points out of a playoff spot.

"Disappointed to not bring it home", Keselowski said. It was go as hard as you possibly can because I knew how quick Brad was. He was penalized for speeding in the pits early in the race.

Ryan Newman, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. all took a chance when the rest of the field started making green-flag stop with about 80 laps to go. That followed a second-place finish at RIR in the fall, a huge improvement over his previous best of 11th.

The final laps were laced with more drama, including between Logano and Kyle Busch, who also rallied to position himself for a potential victory.

Lap Leaders: M.Kenseth 1-163; B.Keselowski 164-204; M.Kenseth 205; D.Hamlin 206-228; K.Harvick 229-237; B.Keselowski 238-251; K.Harvick 252; D.Hamlin 253-286; B.Keselowski 287-319; R.Newman 320-344; K.Harvick 345; B.Keselowski 346-357; Ky.Busch 358; B.Keselowski 359-360; D.Hamlin 361-362; B.Keselowski 363-370; J.Logano 371-378; K.Larson 379-383; J.Logano 384-400. Look for him to make a strong push for the victory this afternoon.

They are a varied mix that includes a driver tied for the most Cup titles in history, another who won a recent Cup title and one who seems destined to win one in the near future.

"It was a good effort", he said. If it was any longer, we probably wouldn't have won.

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