Logano Conquers Bristol Coliseum
BRISTOL, Tenn. – Joey Logano held off his Team Penske cohort Brad Keselowski in the final laps of Saturday’s Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway to score his third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory of the season.
The key moment of the race came on lap 431 when what turned out to be the final caution flag of the day waved for debris. At the time of the caution Jamie McMurray was the race leader, a position he had held for most of the second half of the race.
During the caution period most of the leaders came down pit road, but second-place Matt Kenseth opted not to pit and inherited the lead. McMurray was the first car off pit road of those that pitted, with Logano right behind him. McMurray would restart fifth in the dreaded low line with Logano restarting sixth on the high side.
The green flag waved on lap 438 and Kenseth quickly jumped into the lead as the fight was on behind him between Logano and McMurray. Logano used the high side to his advantage and quickly began taking positions, moving up to second with 59 laps left in the 500-lap contest.
Six laps later Logano tracked down Kenseth and began pressuring him for the race lead. As Logano was looking for a way around Kenseth, Keselowski suddenly arrived on the scene and began challenging Logano for second.
Logano was finally able to make his move with 45 laps left, driving by Kenseth to take the race lead. Logano immediately began putting a gap between himself and Kenseth, who fell in to the clutches of Keselowski.
With 31 laps left Keselowski drove by Kenseth to take second as Logano continued to lead. Keselowski didn’t make up much ground initially once he got around Kenseth, but soon Logano ran into heavy lapped traffic and that allowed Keselowski to close in on his teammate.
With 15 laps left Logano found himself behind Jeff Gordon, who was the last driver on the lead lap. Logano was unable to easily pass Gordon like he had most other cars, allowing Keselowski to really close up on him.
For the next 10 laps Logano struggled to find a way around Gordon as Keselowski lingered, waiting for a chance to strike. Finally with three laps left Gordon gave way to Logano as Keselowski continued looking his chase.
Keselowski tried one last time in turns three and four on the final lap to get alongside Logano, driving deep into turn three, but he couldn’t get there. Logano got to the finish line first, besting Keselowski by just .391 of a second to earn his first Bristol victory.