There was no gamble for Joey Logano Sunday. Just some hard racing between he and his Penske teammate Brad Keselowski in the final laps that ended with Logano winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway by .236 of a second.
It was his first Vegas win, the 22nd of his career and his first since he won the season ending race at Homestead-Miami Speedway last November and secured his first championship.
“Brad and I were so evenly matched, and the way the draft works, you just can’t drive away,” Logano said. “My car got tight there the last five, six laps, and Brad was catching me so quick, and I got stuck behind a lap car, and I was like, oh, man, but man that was so close, and to be able to get it there at the end was a lot of fun.”
The win comes a week after Keselowski won at Atlanta giving the team its second win in a row. Sunday the two battled over the course of the last 100 laps swapping the lead on several occasions with Logano taking it for good with five laps to go. Keselowski tried one last dash on the final lap but Logano blocked coming out of turn 4 and held on across the line.
“I thought it was a pretty good race,” Logano said. “I passed Joey with the lap traffic there and caught a break there, and then lap traffic cost me the lead to Joey and he pulled a good slide job, and I tried to pull it back and I was just a touch too nice to him.”
Kyle Busch came up two places short of a weekend sweep. After winning Friday nights truck race followed by Saturday’s Xfinity race, Sunday he had a pit road speeding penalty but rebounded for a third place.
“Coming to pit road there we tried a different brake package for us this weekend,” Busch said. “Trying to make up time, and in order to get a bigger jump on the guys behind me coming to pit road there, just ruined it for us, and we had to come from the back, and I think we passed the most cars today so I think we were the most impressive today, but doesn’t matter because we don’t have a trophy. Whatever. Next week.”
Logano won Stage 2, and led 86 laps on the day; that was second behind fourth place finisher Kevin Harvick, last years winner. Harvick started from the pole, won Stage 1 and led a race high 88 laps, but despite losing places on pit road with a slick pit box.
“That really wasn’t our issue,” Harvick said. “We kind of maintained and did what we had to do there and dealt with those issues and they did a great job on pit road. We just lost the handling on our car in the second half of the race; it’s happened to us two weeks in a row.”
Kurt Busch had another solid outing for his new team leading 23 laps with his Chip Ganassi Racing Chevy and coming home fifth.
“We made one adjustment and I got really tight in traffic,” Busch said. “And then our pit strategist was saying if we stay long on the second stage, then we can stay out. So, we worked that. It played out where we got clean air and it completely changed the complexion of the car. And that’s what we have to do. When we’re in clean air, the car is like this. When we’re in dirty air, the car is like that. I’ve got to get it to where its balanced evenly.”
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was sixth, Aric Almirola seventh with Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin rounding out the top 10.
Sunday’s race was the first for all the elements of NASCAR’s new high downforce lower horsepower package after the front air ducts were left close at Atlanta the week prior. Despite predictions that closer racing might end with more crashes the only cautions were for stage breaks. There was more three wide racing, and chaotic restarts, but in the end, there was no domination like Harvick staged last year when he won this race by nearly three seconds.
“After we get some baseline stuff here hopefully, we can start working on the details and not scramble so much,” Harvick said.
The series continues its western swing with a trip to ISM Raceway in Phoenix next Sunday. Harvick is also the defending winner of that race.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race Results Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Las Vegas, Nevada
Sunday, March 3, 2019
1. (10) Joey Logano, Ford, 267.
2. (19) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 267.
3. (3) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 267.
4. (1) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 267.
5. (28) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 267.
6. (8) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 267.
7. (25) Aric Almirola, Ford, 267.
8. (23) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 267.
9. (12) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 267.
10. (2) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 267.
11. (11) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 267.
12. (7) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 267.
13. (18) Erik Jones, Toyota, 267.
14. (17) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 267.
15. (15) Paul Menard, Ford, 267.
16. (20) William Byron, Chevrolet, 267.
17. (22) Daniel Suarez, Ford, 267.
18. (27) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 267.
19. (9) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 266.
20. (4) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 266.
21. (26) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 266.
22. (13) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 266.
23. (5) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 265.
24. (29) Ryan Newman, Ford, 265.
25. (24) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, 265.
26. (21) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 265.
27. (30) Corey LaJoie, Ford, 264.
28. (6) David Ragan, Ford, 264.
29. (14) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 264.
30. (16) Michael McDowell, Ford, 263.
31. (32) Parker Kligerman(i), Toyota, 263.
32. (31) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 260.
33. (38) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 259.
34. (35) Matt Tifft #, Ford, 259.
35. (33) Cody Ware #, Chevrolet, 253.
36. (37) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 252.
37. (34) BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 220.
38. (36) Joey Gase(i), Toyota, Engine, 10.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 154.849 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 35 Mins, 11 Secs. Margin of Victory: .236 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 2 for 12 laps.
Lead Changes: 19 among 9 drivers.
Lap Leaders: K. Harvick 1-43;J. Logano 44-49;D. Suarez 50-61;K. Harvick 62-83;B. Keselowski 84-96;J. Logano 97-119;K. Busch 120-128;W. Byron 129-149;J. Logano 150-163;K. Busch 164-168;J. Logano 169;K. Busch 170-187;K. Harvick 188-210;J. Logano 211-215;K. Busch 216-219;R. Stenhouse Jr. 220-224;A. Dillon 225-226;J. Logano 227-239;B. Keselowski 240-243;J. Logano 244-267.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Kevin Harvick 3 times for 88 laps; Joey Logano 7 times for 86 laps; Kurt Busch 2 times for 23 laps; William Byron 1 time for 21 laps; Brad Keselowski 2 times for 17 laps; Kyle Busch 2 times for 13 laps; Daniel Suarez 1 time for 12 laps; Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 1 time for 5 laps; Austin Dillon 1 time for 2 laps.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 4,18,22,11,20,17,19,9,41,2
Stage #2 Top Ten: 22,4,19,2,11,9,10,17,88,48