Joey Logano wins his first NASCAR Sprint Cup race of 2016

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

On Sunday, Team Penske driver Joey Logano claimed his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win of the 2016 season in the FireKeepers Casino 400 at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. The 200-lap race began with Logano starting from the pole position, and featured nine cautions and fourteen lead changes between eight different drivers.

File photo of Joey Logano, 2015.
Image: Sarah Stierch.

Despite starting first, Logano was quickly overtaken on the first lap by Furniture Row Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. Truex led the race until Logano reclaimed the first position on lap ten, a position he would keep until the the first cycle of green flag pit stops around lap 40. Logano's teammate Brad Keselowski took the lead during the pit stop cycle by staying out on the track. Keselowski, low on gasoline, led until a caution came out for a spin by Truex around lap 46. During the caution, Keselowski pitted and returned the lead back to his teammate, who led the race until lap 93.

Two other cautions slowed the race between the first caution and lap 93. The first occurred when Kyle Busch's engine failed around lap 53, forcing the driver to a last-place finish in the race. The other caution was caused by contact between the cars of Chris Buescher, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and A. J. Allmendinger ten laps later. Between laps 93 and 103, Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman, Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, and Paul Menard led at least one lap. Logano returned to the lead on lap 104, a few laps before a caution when Jeffrey Earnhardt's car caught fire. After the caution, Logano remained in first until Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott passed him on lap 117.

Elliott kept the lead until lap 149, when he was briefly passed by Logano. Elliott retook the lead for three more laps on lap 150 before returning the lead back to Logano, who led until the seventh caution was called around lap 156 for of a collision between Danica Patrick, Brian Scott, and Casey Mears. Logano held the lead on the ensuing restart and led through two more caution periods that were called in the final 50 laps. The first began around lap 164 because of a collision involving Johnson, Trevor Bayne, and Ryan Blaney, while the final caution of the race was called with about ten laps remaining after Denny Hamlin suffered a tire puncture on the front straightaway and collided into the SAFER barrier. On the final restart, Logano retained the first position and led the remainder of the race to capture the fifteenth win of his career.

After the race, Logano, who led a race-high of 138 laps, praised his team, saying "Team Penske gave me a great race car. Everyone did a great job figuring out exactly what this car was going to do. This is Ford's backyard, Roger [Penske]'s backyard; this is a great win". Elliott, who finished second in the race, expressed disappointment with his result, claiming he "messed up" by not using the correct gear. Larson, Keselowski, and Kevin Harvick completed the top-five finishers, while Carl Edwards finished in the sixth position. Tony Stewart finished seventh ahead of Austin Dillon and Jamie McMurray, who finished eighth and ninth. Kurt Busch completed the first ten positions with a tenth-place finish. In post-race inspection, Larson's car did not pass laser inspection, prompting NASCAR to impound his car so it can be further evaluated. Any possible penalties are to be announced in the next week.

In the drivers' championship, Harvick led Kurt Busch and Keselowski with 526 points. Edwards and Logano were fourth and fifth with 472 and 455 points. Elliott was sixth with 453, followed by Johnson with 441. Truex was scored eighth ahead of Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth, who completed the top-ten. The 2016 season is scheduled to continue on June 26 with the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.

Unofficial 2016 FireKeepers Casino 400 Top-10 Race Results
Pos Grid No. Driver Team Manufacturer Laps Led Pts.
1 1 22 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 200 138 45
2 10 24 Chase Elliott (R) Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 200 35 40
3 7 42 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 200 1 39
4 15 2 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 200 10 38
5 29 4 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 200 0 36
6 11 19 Carl Edwards Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 200 0 35
7 3 14 Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 200 0 34
8 8 3 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 200 0 33
9 14 1 Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 200 0 32
10 17 41 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 200 0 31
(R) – Rookie