Joey Logano and Ford Win Back to Back at Las Vegas

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Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Las Vegas, NV — February 23, 2020

Who says it never rains in the desert? A lingering storm on Saturday washed out NASCAR Cup qualifying and most of the NASCAR Xfinity Series race. The lineup for the Pennzoil 400 was set by the rule book, using 2019 owner points. Putting Cup series champion Kyle Busch(18) on the pole and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr.(19) on the front row next to him.

However, during pre-race inspections, Busch’s car was found to have a modification to its nose that did not meet NASCAR specs. Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin(11), and Christopher Bell(95) were also penalized for the same infraction. All three cars were sent to the rear of the field.

Thankfully Ryan Newman was able to walk out of Halifax Health Medical Center just days after his horrific last-lap accident during the Daytona 500. Newman is not at the track this weekend, he did speak via video to the press in the media center. Recounting the damages he suffered, Newman said no internal injuries or broken bones occurred. He did suffer a head injury the doctors are continuing to treat. Ross Chastain(6) sits in for Newman today in the #6 car.

Ryan Newman / Lasco Press Photo

Today’s Race

Last year’s winner, Joey Logano(22), has a fast car again this year and is one of the favorites today. Stages are 80/80/107 laps for a total of 400 miles with fuel mileage requiring a stop around the 60 lap mark.

The Start

Truex and Kevin Harvick(4) share the front row after penalties are served, with Harvick taking the lead into Turn 1. The yellow flag was displayed before the field could complete a lap. Daniel Suarez(96) lost power on the start and coasted across the starting line before dropping to the apron. It has been a tough start to the season for Suarez who lost his ride at Stewart-Hass racing to Cole Custer during the off-season. Suarez failed to qualify for the Daytona 500 and rejoins today’s race three laps down after finally getting his car to refire.

Due to the rains yesterday, NASCAR scheduled a “competition caution” after lap 25 for crews to check on tire wear and adjust on the cars. Everyone pitted with most teams taking four tires and a full tank of Sunoco Racing Fuel.

Stage 1

Harvick and Truex again battled for the lead on the restart from the competition caution. Restarts create bunched up racing and three-wide rows behind the leaders as drivers jockey for positions at the drop of the green. Harvick again prevailed as the Ford Mustangs are strong, the Blue Oval is holding down six of the top 10 spots on the field early in the race.

With 14 laps to go in Stage 1, Chase Elliott(9) ran down Harvick and passed for the lead. Elliott held on for the Stage win, Truex passed Harvick for 2nd, and Ross Chastain finished 10th in the Stage while subbing for Newman.

Chase Elliott, Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey / Getty Images

Stage 1 Results

Car Driver Stage Points
9 Chase Elliott 10
19 Martin Truex Jr. 9
4 Kevin Harvick* 8
12 Ryan Blaney* 7
22 Joey Logano* 6
24 William Byron 5
42 Kyle Larson 4
88 William Bowman 3
48 Jimmie Johnson 2
6 Ross Chastain* 1

* Ford Mustang Drivers

Stage 2

On the restart, Harvick drove back to the front as again three-wide racing stacked up the field behind the leader. As the laps mount up, Harvick’s tires seem to go away quicker than Eliott and Truex. They both passed before the halfway point of the Stage.

Pit stops started at Lap 45, and after the field cycled through pit road the top 5 were Elliott, Truex, Blaney, William Byron(24), and Logano. Harvick fell back to 6th and Kyle Busch worked his way back to the top 10.

Christopher Bell(95) spun coming off Turn 2 and hit the backstretch wall bringing out the caution with just two laps left in the Stage. Locking down the Stage ending points as the green and white checkered flag waved along with the yellow flag.

Stage 2 Results

Car Driver Stage Points
9 Chase Elliott 10
12 Ryan Blaney* 9
19 Martin Truex Jr. 8
24 William Byron 7
22 Joey Logano* 6
4 Kevin Harvick* 5
48 Jimmie Johnson 4
42 Kyle Larson 3
88 Alex Bowman 2
18 Kyle Busch 1

* Ford Mustang Drivers

The Final Stage

If racing three-wide was exciting, how about five-wide? With track position so important every position is valuable and the fight to pass widened out across the spacious asphalt of Vegas.

John Hunter Nemechek(38) spun and brought out the caution just after the restart. So they had to line up and do it again. Same thing, five wide. Truex got forced up into the wall and pushed his fenders into the tires. The right front let go and he slammed the wall damaging the entire right side of the car and the caution came out again. Effectively taking Truex out of the mix for the win.

Let’s try it again. This time everyone behaved themselves and its back to racing. With 80 laps to go and positions finally sorted out the top 5 ran as Harvick, Blaney, Logano, Elliott, and Johnson.

Kevin Harvick, Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey / Getty Images

Harvick still suffering from tire fall-off, gives up the lead to Blaney with 66 laps to go. Three laps later Elliott bumps his way past Blaney to take the lead. Pit stops began with 59 laps to go, Aric Almirola(10) was the first to pit road opting to make the early stop and see if the fresh tires pay off. Elliott pitted from the lead along with Blaney at 50 to go.

Trouble

With 47 laps to go, Elliott cut down a left rear tire and spun into Turn 1 clipping the wall with the right rear of his car. Three cars had yet to pit and they trapped the field one lap down. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.(47), Ryan Preece(37), and Nemechek were the leaders, the rest of the field had to take the wave around to get back on the same lap.

Inspection of Eliott’s tire revealed a broken valve stem was the reason for the tire going down. Something happened to Preece’s car during the pit stop, it stalled and the crew could not get it restarted. They ended up pushing the car to the garage.

The Finish

Stenhouse and Nemechek led the pack to the green flag, but even with fresh tires, they could not hold onto the top spots. Logano, Harvick, and Blaney passed to pace the field. Elliott restarted one lap down.

With 30 laps to go, Fords led the way. Logano, Harvick, and Blaney made up the top 3. As Harvick’s tires again began to fall off, Blaney moved past into the 2nd spot with 18 laps to go.

Blaney closed the gap on Logano and passed him for the lead 13 laps from the finish. Logano tried to fight back but failed to get back past his teammate. Logano fell into the clutches of Alex Bowman(88) who moved to 2nd with 9 laps to the checkered flag. Last week Blaney pushed Newman to the lead and ultimately into trouble, and finished 2nd to Hamlin. With 6 laps left Newman’s replacement Ross Chastain spun bringing out the caution.

Blaney and Bowman pitted. Logano, Byron, Matt DiBenedetto(21), Stenhouse, Tyler Reddick(8), Austin Dillon(3), and Bubba Wallace(43) stayed out and will lead the field back to the green. Keselowski and Johnson will be the first drivers with fresh tires.

The green waves with two laps to go. Stenhouse pushes Logano to the lead and DiBenedetto works his way up to 2nd as they take the white flag. Behind them, cars bump and begin to spin. The yellow comes out and locks everyone’s finishing position as Logano coasts around to take the checkered flag. Another wild ending and fortunately no one ends up on their roof.

Logano Wins at Vegas, Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey / Getty Images

Race Highlights

Points Standings

It’s early in the season, still getting off to a good start in the points can help build momentum.

Position Car # Driver POINTS WINS Playoffs
1 11 Denny Hamlin 70 1 In
2 22 Joey Logano* 70 1 In
3 12 Ryan Blaney* 69 0
4 4 Kevin Harvick* 68 0
5 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 66 0
6 3 Austin Dillon 63 0
7 42 Kyle Larson 63 0
8 21 Matt DiBenedetto* 60 0
9 17 Chris Buescher* 60 0
10 43 Bubba Wallace 59 0
11 14 Clint Bowyer* 56 0
12 48 Jimmie Johnson 54 0
13 32 Corey LaJoie 50 0
14 10 Aric Almirola* 48 0
15 88 Alex Bowman 46 0
16 9 Chase Elliott 45 0
Playoff Cut Line
17 38 John Hunter Nemechek* 39 0
18 2 Brad Keselowski* 38 0
19 20 Erik Jones 38 0
20 13 Ty Dillon 35 0
21 18 Kyle Busch 35 0
22 19 Martin Truex Jr. 33 0
23 15 Brennan Poole 29 0
24 8 Tyler Reddick 29 0
25 24 William Byron 26 0

* Ford Mustang Drivers

Some interesting observations.

  • Matt DiBenedetto sits 8th, Chris Buescher(17) 9th, and Bubba Wallace 10th
  • Corey LaJoie(32) is 13th and Nemechek is 17th
  • Keselowski is 18th, Kyle Busch 21st, and Truex 22nd
  • Kurt Busch is out of the top 25, he sits 29th after 2 races

 

Results of the Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Position Car Driver Behind Laps
1 22 Joey Logano 267
2 21 Matt DiBenedetto 0.491 267
3 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 0.857 267
4 3 Austin Dillon 1.454 267
5 48 Jimmie Johnson 1.805 267
6 43 Bubba Wallace 1.876 267
7 2 Brad Keselowski 3.371 267
8 4 Kevin Harvick 3.743 267
9 42 Kyle Larson 3.796 267
10 13 Ty Dillon 3.814 267
11 12 Ryan Blaney 3.943 267
12 14 Clint Bowyer 4.934 267
13 88 Alex Bowman 5.942 267
14 18 Kyle Busch 6.098 267
15 17 Chris Buescher 6.158 267
16 32 Corey LaJoie 6.892 267
17 11 Denny Hamlin 7.253 267
18 8 Tyler Reddick 8.899 267
19 41 Cole Custer 9.406 267
20 19 Martin Truex Jr. 9.945 267
21 10 Aric Almirola 10.725 267
22 24 William Byron 11.573 267
23 20 Erik Jones 12.198 267
24 38 John Hunter Nemechek 44.580 267
25 1 Kurt Busch -1 266
26 9 Chase Elliott -1 266
27 6 Ross Chastain -2 265
28 52 JJ Yeley -3 264
29 15 Brennan Poole -3 264
30 96 Daniel Suarez -4 263
31 53 Joey Gase -9 258
32 0 Quin Houff -9 258
33 95 Christopher Bell -10 257
34 77 Reed Sorenson -14 253
35 51 Garrett Smithley -15 252
36 34 Michael McDowell -22 245
37 37 Ryan Preece -45 222
38 66 Timmy Hill -92 175