Joey Logano pulled off a huge win Sunday, racing to victory in NASCAR’s Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum. The 31-year-old won a day before his wife Brittney expects their third child, and on a huge weekend for the sport’s future. Logano called it “a big weekend for us,” and that he was “out of breath” after the win.
After struggling in the beginning of the weekend during the practice sessions on Saturday, Logano said his crew and crew chief “did an amazing job making the adjustments we needed to find speed this weekend.”
After winning their respective heats based on qualifying order, Kyle Busch led the field to green, followed by Tyler Reddick, Justin Haley, and Joey Logano. Kyle Busch was passed quickly by Tyler Reddick who aggressively scythed through heavy traffic, caught after only fifteen laps, to put several cars a lap down.
The first caution came out on lap 54 with a spin from Ricky Stenhouse at the same time as Denny Hamlin, Chase Briscoe, and Tyler Reddick pulled out of the race in quick succession with power steering issues, steering problems, and a transaxle failure respectively. After his early issue, Reddick said the team would “learn from it and move on to the season,” with the issue providing some extra information about the Next Gen car.
Logano stepped into second and put pressure on leader Busch after choosing the outside, with his crew chief Paul Wolfe saying the choice was “left up to him,” before Chase Elliot spun from seventh by himself under braking on lap 66 for the second caution. Logano used his bumper to make the pass for the lead on Kyle Busch just before the halfway caution break came on lap 76 featuring a performance by rapper Ice Cube.
Busch retook the lead as the intensity ratcheted up. Ryan Preece pulled out on lap 70 with a brake issue. The fourth caution came out on lap 115 when Ryan Blaney pulled to the infield after being pushed into the outside wall. Blaney responded by throwing his Hans device at the 43 of Erik Jones who pushed him.
On the restart, Kyle Larson made repeated contact with Justin Haley, ending with the 31 in the wall with big damage and the caution flag flying on lap 116. Haley went on to accuse the champion of “put[ting] me in danger.” Logano managed to take the lead before the caution came out. Logano got out to a one-second lead that Kyle Busch worked on closing but was unable to. Logano saw the checkered flag first with Busch unable to reach him, but other drivers didn’t have similarly clean finishes and Logano’s cool-down lap was blocked by wrecks.
In a huge race for the future of the sport that brought a large audience to the track and on the television, NASCAR’s Next Gen car provided the short-track spark to start the season. Logano commended the “amazing job” NASCAR did to set up the event, with many fans on social media hoping to see it back on the schedule next year.
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