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The Promise Of Joey Logano Has Been Fulfilled

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, November 19 2018

Joey Logano began his NASCAR career amid high expectations. Those expectations were met Sunday in Homestead. (RacinToday/HHP photo by David Tulis)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Joey Logano possessed one dream as a child – to be a NASCAR champion. On Sunday at Homestead-Motor Speedway his dream finally became reality.

With a Ford that was powerful on the short runs, Logano bolted into the lead with 12 laps remaining and stretched his advantage to claim a 1.725-second victory over fellow title contender Martin Truex Jr. Kevin Harvick finished third and Kyle Busch fourth, making it the first time the four title contenders have finished 1-4 in the season finale at the 1.5-mile track.

“With all four of them up on that pylon almost all together for the whole 267 laps just shows you how good these guys are and how good the racing is,” team owner Roger Penske said. “I’m not sure if anybody, when you looked at the first 150 laps, knew who was going to win. But there’s no question that the speed we had for say 30 or 35 laps was pretty outstanding.”

Logano got the opportunity to showcase his Ford’s short-run speed when teammate Brad Keselowski collided with Daniel Suarez and spun him with 19 laps remaining. When the race restarted with 14 laps to go, Logano was third behind Busch and Truex. Truex quickly grabbed the lead and held it for two laps before Logano took over.

“We had speed,” crew chief Todd Gordon said. “We didn’t have all the win stickers …, but we had speed, and we just needed to work on some things. With the struggles last year, we took the opportunity to learn more this year and not necessarily race the wins as much as race the knowledge so that we could put ourselves in the right position to lead into the playoffs …, and it worked.”

Logano’s accomplishment made him the first driver from the state of Connecticut to win a Cup Series championship. It also provided Team Penske with the owner

Joey Logano won his first NASCAR Cup Series championship on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway (RacinToday/HHP photo by David Tulis)

championship and Ford with its first manufacturer title since 2002. It was the first time since 1999 that Ford had won the driver and manufacturer titles.

Logano’s championship also marks a phenomenal year for the 81-year-old Penske, who was elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, celebrated his organization’s 500th victory and his 17th win in the Indianapolis 500 before claiming his second Cup title. Team Penske, which already possesses 33 championships, still has the opportunity to pick up one more this year. Penske leaves Thursday morning for Australia where his driver, Scott McLachlan, possesses a 14-point lead in the V8 Supercars Series.

For Gordon, a Cup championship was something the former limited super modified driver at Oswego (N.Y.) Speedway never envisioned.

“When we packed up and moved south I was just hoping to work in racing, and that was back in ’98,” Gordon said. “It’s a testament to opportunity and this guy to my right (Penske) believed in me. I got a shot at the Xfinity program … and showed a little bit of promise and got this opportunity. I think you’ve just got to keep your head down and good things can happen.”

Such has been the case for Logano, who came into the sport amid high expectations after NASCAR Hall of Fame member Mark Martin touted him as the “greatest thing since sliced bread.”

Logano joined Joe Gibbs Racing at age 18. He found himself thrust into a Cup car while still a teenager when Tony Stewart suddenly left to become a co-owner with Gene Haas. For the young Logano it was a gut-wrenching time.

“I expected to go out there and win and just got my butt handed to me on a platter,” Logano said. “It was hard. There’s a lot of times that I felt really weak, and I’d break down. You know, when you’re confused, you don’t know how to be better. I didn’t know what I was doing.  It was really hard, but it makes you stronger in so many different ways.”

When Gibbs released Logano at the end of 2012, the then 22-year-old driver thought his racing days might have ended. However, Brad Keselowski convinced Penske he should hire the young driver and gradually Logano matured into a man with a family; a man who once again possessed the confidence he exhibited in his pre-NASCAR days.

“The opportunity to make mistakes is one of the best things that can ever happen to you,” Logano said. “I made a lot of mistakes … but there’s no regrets … because that’s formed me into the man I am today. If it wasn’t for each and every one of those mistakes, I wouldn’t be sitting here today. God teaches you many lessons, sometimes the hard way, but I wouldn’t take any of them back.”

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race – Ford EcoBoost 400

Homestead-Miami Speedway

Homestead, Florida

Sunday, November 18, 2018

  1. (5) Joey Logano (P), Ford, 267.
  2. (3) Martin Truex Jr. (P), Toyota, 267.
  3. (12) Kevin Harvick (P), Ford, 267.
  4. (2) Kyle Busch (P), Toyota, 267.
  5. (4) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 267.
  6. (17) Matt Kenseth, Ford, 267.
  7. (14) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 267.
  8. (26) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 267.
  9. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford, 267.
  10. (6) Kurt Busch, Ford, 267.
  11. (16) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 267.
  12. (1) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 267.
  13. (11) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 267.
  14. (19) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 267.
  15. (8) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 267.
  16. (9) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 267.
  17. (15) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 267.
  18. (21) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 267.
  19. (20) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 266.
  20. (25) David Ragan, Ford, 266.
  21. (23) Bubba Wallace #, Chevrolet, 266.
  22. (31) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 266.
  23. (27) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 266.
  24. (28) William Byron #, Chevrolet, 266.
  25. (22) Paul Menard, Ford, 265.
  26. (29) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 264.
  27. (7) Erik Jones, Toyota, 264.
  28. (24) Michael McDowell, Ford, 263.
  29. (13) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 263.
  30. (18) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 262.
  31. (32) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 262.
  32. (33) JJ Yeley(i), Ford, 261.
  33. (39) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 259.
  34. (34) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 259.
  35. (36) BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 256.
  36. (35) * Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, 256.
  37. (38) * Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, 254.
  38. (37) * Tanner Berryhill, Toyota, 254.
  39. (30) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 240.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  133.056 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 00 Mins, 36 Secs. Margin of Victory:  1.725 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  5 for 26 laps.

Lead Changes:  22 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   D. Hamlin 1-36; M. Truex Jr. (P) 37-39; M. McDowell 40-41; D. Hamlin 42; K. Harvick (P) 43-82; K. Larson 83; K. Harvick (P) 84-86; K. Larson 87-90; J. Logano (P) 91-104; K. Larson 105-117; K. Harvick (P) 118-119; M. Truex Jr. (P) 120; D. Hamlin 121-124; K. Larson 125-147; K. Harvick (P) 148-159; K. Larson 160-163; J. Logano (P) 164-166; K. Harvick (P) 167; J. Logano (P) 168-218; M. Truex Jr. (P) 219-230; K. Busch (P) 231-251; M. Truex Jr. (P) 252-255; J. Logano (P) 256-267.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  J. Logano (P) 4 times for 80 laps; K. Harvick (P) 5 times for 58 laps; K. Larson 5 times for 45 laps; D. Hamlin 3 times for 41 laps; K. Busch (P) 1 time for 21 laps; M. Truex Jr. (P) 4 times for 20 laps; M. McDowell 1 time for 2 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 4,42,18,22,78,11,10,20,2,41

Stage #2 Top Ten: 42,4,22,78,10,18,41,11,48,14

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, November 19 2018
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