Going, Going, Logano
Logano Restarts Title Contention
Joey Logano made it a clean sweep for Penske Racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2014. The native of Middletown, Conn., raced his way into the second round of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase for the Championship by winning Sunday's SYLVANIA 300. Logano joins July New Hampshire winner and teammate Brad Keselowski in the Contender Round.
"This is the coolest place to win for me. I won my first Cup race here, but it's nice to do this one the right way," said Logano, who won the 2009 rain-shortened June race at NHMS to become the youngest driver in NASCAR history to win a Sprint Cup Series race. "This is my home track. I always love coming here. I watched my first Cup race here and this means so much to me to me."
This was Logano's second win at the Magic Mile and his fourth victory of the season, trailing only Keselowski, who led 78 laps on Sunday, for the most in the Cup Series this year. Logano led 73 laps around the 1.058-mile oval on Sunday.
Rookie Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, and Jimmie Johnson round out the top-five.
Larson was a top-five car all day, but never seriously challenged for the lead. It was the second runner-up finish this season for Larson and his fourth top-three finish, which includes a third-place finish in July at New Hampshire.
"It was pretty crazy how I went from bad to really good, like we flipped a switch. I didn't think we would be a second-place finisher," said Larson. “We had a top-five car in the right position in the end.”
For Harvick - who led a race-high 104 laps - it was his best finish since his win at the Magic Mile in 2006. He contended for the win in July, but ran out of gas during a green-white-checker finish.
“The first two weeks have gone really well and it was important for us to get off to a good start to make sure that we don’t want to be scrambling after Week 1,” said Harvick, who now has eight top-threes this season. “I thought at one point we were going to win the race and then all of a sudden I had (Keselowski) on my quarter panel and I was out of the groove. It was just hard racing and I enjoyed it.”
Keselowski, the heavy favorite to win on Sunday, led the most laps, but fell to seventh during a series of late cautions. Chasers Aric Almirola finished sixth, while other Chasers Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished eighth and ninth, respectively. Brian Vickers finished 10th.
It was a rough day for a number of other championship contenders, including Matt Kenseth (21st), Kasey Kahne (23rd), Jeff Gordon (26th), Kurt Busch (41st), and Denny Hamlin (37th).
Chase contenders A.J. Allmendinger (13th), Greg Biffle (16th), Carl Edwards (17th), and Ryan Newman (18th) finished inside the top 20.
The win for Logano was a bit of a surprise given his struggles of late. Logano had only one finish better than 14th - an eighth in September of 2012 – in his last six starts at the Magic Mile.
“I consider this my worst track, which you know it’s a terrible thing to say because it is my home racetrack and I love it,” said Logano, whose win ended a streak of 13 straight different winning drivers at the Magic Mile. “But I've always struggled when I come here. After today, we should feel like we can win anywhere.”
- Jamie McMurray’s fourth ties for his highest finish of the season.
- Jimmie Johnson’s fifth-place finish was the 10th top-five of his career at New Hampshire, which ranks third among active drivers.
- Joey Logano has finished sixth or better in eight of his last nine starts.
- Brad Keselowski was on the pole for the SYLVANIA 300. Ryan Newman (July 2011) was the last driver to win from the pole position.
- This was Penske’s fourth win in the last five races.
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