A Team Penske Sweep of the Toyota Owners 400 – Joey Logano From Last to First

RICHMOND, VA – APRIL 30: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, leads a pack of cars during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 30, 2017, in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

Richmond, VA – From last to first, is exactly what Joey Logano did this Sunday at Richmond International Raceway, after starting shotgun on the field after a transmission change after qualifying. The call to replace the transmission came from crew chief Todd Gordon late Saturday afternoon when debris was found in the transmission of the Shell-Pennzoil Ford.

A caution early in the race on lap five was just what Todd Gordon and the #22 team needed as it allowed them to come down pit road for fresh tires. Which ultimately allowed Joey to pick his way through the field much easier.

“I got a text yesterday from Todd while I was up in the booth and was just like aw man,” Logano said about the debris found in the transmission. “This is not the place you want to start in the back for a lot of reasons. For one, you have five or six laps on your tires from qualifying. Two, for being a short track you have to go hard on a short run to try and not go down a lap and hope for a caution and that worked out really well. We got a nice caution five laps in the race and put some sticker tires on it when some still had their qualifiers on.”

From that point on it was one car at a time for Logano as the strategy early this morning was to run about 80% at the start of the race. The plan seemed to work out pretty well because Logano found himself inside the top ten at the completion of both 100-lap segments collecting two additional playoff points.

“We picked them off slowly,” Logano went on to explain. “Took us forever to get into the top five. It seemed like everyone from fourth to tenth had the same speed so it was all about gaining position on restarts and pit stops.”

A few late cautions and great calls from the top of the #22 pit box helped gain very important track position giving every opportunity to Joey to get the win. Logano was able to retake the lead shortly after the final restart of the race getting by Kyle Larson with a little bump out of three.

“Some good calls there at the end got us some track position,” Logano said. “We had a good pit stop at the end that got us some good track position that maintained the track position. A good restart that helped us get the lead back when everyone else stayed out on old tires and we just tried to check out. It wasn’t a save your tires and don’t get too big of a lead, it was a go as hard as you possibly can because I knew how fast Brad was. He was the fastest car and lead a ton of laps today. Glad the race was 400-laps,” Logano said. “If it was any shorter we probably wouldn’t have won. If it was any longer, we probably wouldn’t have won.”

The win was Logano’s first of 2017 and 18th of his career which came in his 300th start. Making him just the fifth driver in history to win in his 300th career start. Putting him in the company of Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, and Rusty Wallace.

At the drop of the green flag, it appeared that it was going to be the Matt Kenseth show. Kenseth set a blistering pace early in the race, leading a race-high 164 laps, to win the first segment and over half of the second. Kenseth said at the segment break the car still needed some work and he hadn’t run too much in traffic yet – which may have been his Achilles heel this weekend. The pass for the lead came as the leaders approached heavy lap traffic. Keselowski made the move on the high side and never looked back.

Denny Hamlin, who was spectacular all day on pit road, along with Kevin Harvick, made it tough for Keselowski though as the race continued. Leading the second most laps of the day, 110 to be exact, it looked like the two-car was poised to win the race. Restart after restart, Keselowski found his way back to the front of the field. However, the late race cautions seemed to not help with the strategy from the Detroit Genuine Parts Ford pit box – who was as far back as fifth with fifteen laps to go.

“That’s just how things fall with these double-file restarts,” Keselowski explained in the media center following the race. “We got behind some of these guys that I think I lapped at least six times today. I think the fact that it was a day race makes this track change drastically. I know I was hot all day but some of the best races are in the day.”

The Team Penske front row sweep was the second of the weekend as Simon Pagenuad & Will Power finish one-two Saturday out in Phoenix in the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix.

NASCAR will head south to the 2.66-mile monster that is Talladega.

 

NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series – Toyota Owners 400 – April 30, 2017

  1. #22 Joey Logano
  2. #2 Brad Keselowski
  3. #11 Denny Hamlin
  4. #17 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
  5. #4 Kevin Harvick
  6. #1 Jamie McMurray
  7. #31 Ryan Newman
  8. #41 Kurt Busch
  9. #43 Aric Almirola
  10. #78 Martin Turex, Jr.
  11. #48 Jimmie Johnson
  12. #19 Daniel Suarez
  13. #6 Trevor Bayne
  14. #42 Kyle Larson
  15. #14 Clint Boyer
  16. #18 Kyle Busch
  17. #37 Chris Buescher
  18. #10 Danica Patrick
  19. #38 David Ragan
  20. #3 Austin Dillon
  21. #34 Landon Cassill
  22. #5 Kasey Kahne
  23. #20 Matt Kenseth
  24. #24 Chase Elliot
  25. #27 Paul Menard
  26. #13 Ty Dillon
  27. #72 Cole Whitt
  28. #32 Matt DiBenedetto
  29. #95 Michael McDowell
  30. #88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
  31. #23 Gray Gaulding
  32. #83 Corey LaJoie
  33. #15 Reed Sorenson
  34. #51 Timmy Hill
  35. #33 Jeffery Earnhardt
  36. #21 Ryan Blaney
  37. #47 AJ Allmendinger
  38. #77 Erik Jones

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