Joey Logano Wins at Talladega for Ford

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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series weekend at Talladega started off with a bang. Friday’s 2nd practice session was interrupted early as Jamie McMurray(1) blew a rear tire going down the backstretch, turned sideways, and got airborne. Just as the car lifted off the pavement, Ryan Newman(31) tapped McMurray in the side. The contact sent the number 1 car barrel-rolling side-over-side close to the inside retaining wall.

Fortunately, McMurray walked away from the wreck without injury.

NASCAR, after reviewing the incident, took immediate steps to reduce speeds with a rule change.  The restrictor plate (used at Talladega & Daytona) was shaved 1/64th of an inch. Lowering it from 7/8 of an inch to 55/64th of an inch. Which NASCAR believes will lower the speeds from the 200+ range posted in practice sessions for Sunday’s GEICO 500.

The change did produce slower single-car speeds during qualifying. Kevin Harvick(4) won the pole with a speed of 194.448 mph. His teammate at Stewart-Haas Racing, Kurt Busch(41), will start on the front row beside Harvick. Busch’s speed, 194.082mh. How the cars run in the draft remains to be seen.

Photo Credit: Josh Hedges / Getty Images

On a beautiful Alabama Sunday afternoon, Harvick took the lead at the drop of the green flag. Kurt Busch and defending series champion Martin Truex Jr.(78) followed into turn one. Speeds in the draft returned to the 200-202 mph range.

Photo Credit: Sean Gardner / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey / Getty Images

In an interesting pit strategy, most of the leaders pitted on lap 13 for gas. Stages 1 & 2 at Talladega are 55 laps requiring a pitstop at some point during the stage. If the race stays green thru the stage the strategy works as those who pitted will return to the front as stops cycle through. If a caution comes out, it could end up costing the drivers pitting early valuable track position.

Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk / Getty Images

No cautions in Stage 1, so pit stops cycled completely through the field. At the green and white checkered flag, Brad Keselowski(2) took the Stage win for Ford and Team Penske. His teammate Joey Logano(22) finished on his rear bumper in second. Fusions took six of the 10 Stage points positions.

Stage 1 Results

Car Driver Stage Points
2 Keselowski* 10
22 Logano* 9
78 Truex Jr. 8
18 Kyle Busch 7
21 Menard* 6
11 Hamlin 5
12 Blaney* 4
17 Stenhouse Jr.* 3
4 Harvick* 2
48 Johnson 1

* Ford Fusion Drivers

During stage ending pit stops two top contenders had trouble in the pits. Truex, for the second week in a row, had a problem with the jack. the car was high enough to remove the right rear tire but had to be raised another few inches to get the new tire on. Truex dropped from third to 20th coming out of the pits.

Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk / Getty Images

Harvick’s team made a huge rear suspension adjustment. Six turns on the left rear and three turns on the right rear of the car. The extra time turning the jack screws in the rear sent Harvick to midpack as well.

Stage 2

On the restart, Keselowski and Logano returned to the front. Kyle Busch(18), seeking his fourth win in a row, moved up to third. Again on lap 12 and 13 most of the field pitted for fuel. Keselowski was penalized for too fast entering pit road and was forced to perform a drive-through of pit road on the next circuit of the speedway. He returned to the track one lap down in 29th position.

Trouble Strikes

On lap 71 the first accident of the day occurred. Erik Jones got sideways down the backstretch and wrecked with Trevor Bayne(6) and Jamie McMurray. The second car McMurray wrecked over the weekend he started in a backup car after his crash in Friday’s practice session. Truex, Kyle Larson(24), also received damage.

For Bayne, the bad news just keeps piling on. It was announced Wednesday that Matt Kenseth would be returning to the circuit. Splitting time with Bayne in the number 6 car for Roush Fenway Racing. Kenseth will reunite with Jack Roush, his car owner when Kenseth won his Cup Series Championship in 2003.

Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images

Racing for the Stage Win

Back to green flag racing, Logano led Paul Menard(21), with Kurt Busch working his way back up to the front in third. As laps wound down in Stage 2 Denny Hamlin(11) made a move to the front and Menard dropped in behind to push him to the lead. Menard also made a bid for the top spot with Logano on his tail. As the field began to pass lapped traffic, Menard took the lead. He held on for the Stage Win, the first of Menard’s career.

Stage 2 Results

Car Driver Stage Points
21 Menard* 10
10 Logano* 9
41 Blaney* 8
4 Harvick* 7
17 Stenhouse* 6
38 Ragan* 5
48 Johnson 4
41 Kurt Busch* 3
24 Byron 2
18 Kyle Busch 1

* Ford Fusion Drivers

Five Fords followed the Wood’s Brother’s Fusion under the green and white checkered flag. As the Blue Oval drivers continued their early race dominance. Kyle Busch was too fast entering pit road during the stage ending pit stops. Busch’s drive-through penalty resulting in his starting the final 78 lap stage in 23rd of the 26 cars on the lead lap.

The Final Stage

William Byron(24), Ryan Blaney(12), Menard, and Harvick led the field to the green on the restart. Several drivers swapped the lead until another caution flag flew on lap 128 for debris on the front tri-oval. While some drivers choose to pit during the caution, with 58 laps to go another stop for fuel will be required.

On the restart, last years winner, Rickey Stenhouse Jr.(17) took the lead. He held the top spot only briefly as racing three wide Hamlin drove back to the front. Stenhouse dropped to eighth. As the leaders continued to shuffle the front of the pack, Keselowski pushed Logano to the top spot for another turn at the lead for the 22 car.

Three Wide Racing

As the battle at the front settled down, the rest of the pack lined up three wide with each line of cars looking for the fastest way around the track. Then with 43 to go most of the field pitted under green to top off their fuel tanks. Able to make it safely to the end the group returned to the track.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey / Getty Images

Hamlin and Stenhouse were too fast entering pit road and had to make the drive-through. Unbelievably Hamlin was too fast entering the pits for his penalty and was forced to take a second drive-through penalty. Luckily Hamlin lost only 1 lap in the process of serving his penalties.

Fords at the Front

After everyone pitted, Logano and Keselowski returned to the front. Followed by the Fords of Aric Almirola(10), Harvick, Menard, and Blaney. Six Fords at the front of the pack.

With 23 laps to go the “Big One” occurred. Jimmie Johnson(48) spun between turns 3 and 4. A host of contenders got caught in the melee that ensued. Front runners receiving damage in the crash were A.J. Allmendinger(47), Blaney, Byron, Kyle Busch, Menard, Clint Bowyer(14), Keselowski, Kasey Kahne(95), Austin Dillon(3), and Darrell Wallace Jr.(43).

Wallace, Dillon, Blaney, and Kyle Busch were able to continue with minor damage. The race restarted with 17 laps to go and Logano still in the lead. Cars soon lined up nose-to-tail for the final sprint to the checkered flag.

Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk / Getty Images

The Finish

With horsepower virtually equal few moves were made over the final laps. Logano held on for the victory with Kurt Busch finishing second. Chase Elliott(9) took third, Harvick fourth, and Stenhouse fifth. No four-peat for Kyle Busch, he finished 13th. Logano is the third Ford driver to lock in a spot in the 2018 playoffs with a win this season.

Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images

Fords finished 1-2 and 4th through 7th.

 

 

 

Results of the GEICO 500 at Talladega Speedway

Position Car Driver Behind Laps
1 22 Joey Logano 188
2 41 Kurt Busch 0.127 188
3 9 Chase Elliott 0.247 188
4 4 Kevin Harvick 0.296 188
5 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 0.318 188
6 38 David Ragan 0.394 188
7 10 Aric Almirola 0.399 188
8 88 Alex Bowman 0.49 188
9 31 Ryan Newman 0.501 188
10 19 Daniel Suarez 0.723 188
11 37 Chris Buescher 0.85 188
12 48 Jimmie Johnson 0.881 188
13 18 Kyle Busch 0.883 188
14 11 Denny Hamlin 9.955 188
15 13 Ty Dillon 10.038 188
16 43 Darrell Wallace Jr. 10.273 188
17 95 Kasey Kahne 10.887 188
18 12 Ryan Blaney 10.909 188
19 32 Matt DiBenedetto 11.704 188
20 96 DJ Kennington 11.868 188
21 72 Cole Whitt 30.79 188
22 62 Brendan Gaughan 35.928 188
23 92 Timothy Peters -1 187
24 23 Gray Gaulding -1 187
25 15 Ross Chastain -2 186
26 78 Martin Truex Jr. -4 184
27 0 Joey Gase -10 178
28 1 Jamie McMurray -14 174
29 24 William Byron -23 165
30 21 Paul Menard -23 165
31 14 Clint Bowyer -23 165
32 34 Michael McDowell -23 165
33 2 Brad Keselowski -23 165
34 47 AJ Allmendinger -23 165
35 3 Austin Dillon -23 165
36 51 Timmy Hill -37 151
37 55 Reed Sorenson -109 79
38 6 Trevor Bayne -117 71
39 20 Erik Jones -117 71
40 42 Kyle Larson -117 71

Points/Playoff Standings

Position Driver Points Wins
1 Kyle Busch 447 3
2 Kevin Harvick* 366 3
3 Joey Logano* 417 1
4 Clint Bowyer* 335 1
5 Martin Truex Jr. 295 1
6 Austin Dillon 210 1
7 Kurt Busch 320 0
8 Brad Keselowski* 317 0
9 Denny Hamlin 314 0
10 Ryan Blaney* 313 0
11 Kyle Larson 280 0
12 Aric Almirola* 278 0
13 Alex Bowman 238 0
14 Erik Jones 234 0
15 Jimmie Johnson 230 0
16 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.* 217 0
Playoff Cut Line
17 Ryan Newman 214 0
18 Chase Elliott 209 0
19 Paul Menard* 206 0
20 William Byron 202 0

* Ford Fusion Drivers

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Steve Sweitzer
Steve is the Sports Editor for the Lasco Press and highlights our coverage of NASCAR and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Steve is a nationally published author of automotive related articles for industry trade magazines, a freelance technical writer, and a contributing author to a consortium that provides “how to” articles for eBay Buying Guides. A 25-year resident of Southeast Michigan, Steve’s passion for reporting on our community, it’s residents, and our automotive connections allow us to use his skills to cover a number of events. Steve’s ability to seek out the unique behind the scenes accounts that tell the often-overlooked aspect of a story makes for entertaining reading. Follow Steve on the Lasco Press with weekly NASCAR updates and featured articles.