When the dust settled Monday evening, Joey Logano stood tall.
Logano was the surprise winner of NASCAR’s return to dirt for the first time since 1970. One of the many drivers in the field with limited dirt experience Logano was able to hold off Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Denny Hamlin on an overtime finish to become the seventh different driver to win in the first seven races of 2021, and the first driver to win on dirt since Bobby Isaac.
“This is obviously my first dirt win,” Logano said.” It’s only my fourth dirt race ever, so I had a lot of fun trying to figure it out. I was having a blast racing, trying to find the right lanes, moving around, watching Denny figure out the top after they watered the track. I was like, ‘Oh no, now what do we do?’ So, just a crazy moment.”
Logano led 61 of the 253 laps winning by .554 of a second for the 27th win of his NASCAR Cup career. Behind Stenhouse and Hamlin, Daniel Suarez, who ran the truck series race earlier in the day was fourth, Ryan Newman fifth.
In the end, neither floods, hail, nor thunderstorms could keep NASCAR from racing on the Bristol Dirt track. After rain washed out the scheduled heat races as well as both the Cup and truck races Saturday and Sunday, the race Monday was held under clear blue skies.
The race had no “live” pit stops, and extra competition breaks after tire wear became a concern following the only practice sessions Friday.
Monday there was also several multi-car crashes that thinned the field.
A crash on lap 42 took out Aric Almirola; a lap 51 crash knocked accomplished dirt racers Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell out of the running for the win early. And later crashes took involved to runners Ryan Blaney, who won last week at Atlanta, Austin Dillon, Alex Bowman, Brad Keselowski, and William Byron, among others.
NASCAR changed the re-start procedures prior to lap 170 as the track become dusty, a common procedure at dirt tracks. They also stretched out the stage break after Stage 2 for a full 10 minutes as they worked on the track.
Martin Truex Jr., who won the truck race only two hours prior to the start of the Cup race, won Stage 1, and led a race high 126 laps. He was in contention for the win on the final re-start but made contact with Hamlin and had a tire go down. He would finish 19th.
Logano, who won Stage 2 for his first Stage win of the season, had a clear advantage in the closing laps. A spin by Mike Marler with four laps to go however, forced the races 10th and final caution. On the re-start Stenhouse and Hamlin battled for the second spot with Hamlin hitting the wall on the final lap. The fight behind him allowed Logano to keep the lead and take the win.
“I couldn’t see a whole lot,” Hamlin said. “I was kind of guessing, but I thought I could – on that last restart – run the top-end hard, but they didn’t prep it in-between cautions like they did before, so it was just marbles up there.
“Really had the top ripping there for a couple laps and that was my opportunity to get the 22 (Joey Logano). Ran him back down and then just kind of stalled out there behind him. I went back to the top and jumped the cushion, got a bunch of damage and that was all she wrote. All effort there.”
Byron was sixth, with Tyler Reddick, Blaney, Erik Jones and Chase Elliott rounding out the top 10. In the closing laps, the track and NASCAR announced they will return to the dirt track at Bristol in the spring of 2022.
NASCAR has a week off for Easter and will return to action at Martinsville Speedway April 10.
NASCAR Cup Series Race Results Food City Dirt Race
Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt
Monday, March 29, 2021
- (10) Joey Logano, Ford, 253.
- (13) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 253.
- (2) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 253.
- (18) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 253.
- (14) Ryan Newman, Ford, 253.
- (8) William Byron, Chevrolet, 253.
- (27) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 253.
- (3) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 253.
- (24) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 253.
- (26) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 253.
- (20) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 253.
- (16) Michael McDowell, Ford, 253.
- (12) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 253.
- (11) Chris Buescher, Ford, 253.
- (6) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 253.
- (28) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 253.
- (4) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 253.
- (22) Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 253.
- (5) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 253.
- (25) Chase Briscoe #, Ford, 252.
- (9) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 252.
- (7) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 252.
- (32) Stewart Friesen(i), Chevrolet, 252.
- (21) Cole Custer, Ford, 252.
- (33) Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 252.
- (39) Ty Dillon(i), Toyota, 252.
- (19) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 251.
- (34) JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, 249.
- (1) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 248.
- (37) Josh Bilicki, Ford, 247.
- (38) Mike Marlar, Toyota, Accident, 244.
- (31) Cody Ware(i), Chevrolet, 242.
- (36) Chris Windom, Chevrolet, Engine, 62.
- (15) Christopher Bell, Toyota, Accident, 54.
- (17) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, Accident, 52.
- (23) Aric Almirola, Ford, Accident, 39.
- (35) Shane Golobic, Ford, Accident, 39.
- (30) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, Accident, 39.
- (29) Anthony Alfredo #, Ford, Accident, 39.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 46.313 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 43 Mins, 53 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.554 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 10 for 37 laps.
Lead Changes: 5 among 5 drivers.
Lap Leaders: K. Larson 0;D. Hamlin 1;K. Busch 2-8;M. Truex Jr. 9-134;D. Suarez 135-192;J. Logano 193-253.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Martin Truex Jr. 1 time for 126 laps; Joey Logano 1 time for 61 laps; Daniel Suarez 1 time for 58 laps; Kyle Busch 1 time for 7 laps; Denny Hamlin 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 19,24,11,99,12,22,23,6,47,17
Stage #2 Top Ten: 22,99,11,19,6,47,23,43,8,9