Logano Gets His First Victory at His Second Home

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, March 20 2023

Joey Logano has finally nailed an elusive win in Atlanta. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer

HAMPTON, Ga. – Two decades after dominating “Thursday Thunder” on the quarter-mile layout at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Joey Logano finally accomplished some unfinished business at his “second home track” on Sunday.

Logano amassed an incredible 20 victories and four championships from 1999 to 2003 during the 10-race series staged annually on the frontstretch at AMS each summer.

On Sunday, he followed through on a promise he made to himself years ago to win on Atlanta’s “big track.”

“It’s been a lot of years coming,” said Logano, who led a race-high 150 laps. “It means so much to me to win here in Atlanta.

“(I have) so many memories of driving my Legends car right here where we’re standing when I was 9-years-old. This is a really special one and a dream come true.”

After selling his business in Connecticut in the late 1990s, Tom Logano and his family packed their bags and headed to Georgia in an effort to launch his son’s racing career.

The path to motorsports stardom had previously been linked to go-karts or quarter-midgets.

But a relatively new form of racing featuring Bandolero and Legends cars seemed to be the new hot ticket to propel young drivers up the ladder.

Former Cup Series driver Ken Ragan convinced the Loganos their son belonged in a Bandolero and Legends car. It proved to be a wise decision.

So, it should come as no surprise that Tom Logano jumped the pit road wall and dashed to the start-finish line to be the first to greet his son once he climbed out of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford.

“That was really cool. And obviously, I didn’t see him coming,” a grinning Logano said. “There have been plenty of times he’s run out to the start-finish line to give me a hug when I won here 20-something years ago.

“I guess you’d have to say this was kind of an emotional win, when I think about what Atlanta Motor Speedway is all about to our family and the memories we’ve made here.

“This is definitely one we will remember forever.”

Though Logano had the dominant car, many fans who filled the grandstands began cheering for the underdog Keselowski who was leading when the white flag waved.

But Logano made the winning move seconds later when used a crossover maneuver from the inside to outside and benefited from a push by Christopher Bell on the exit of Turn that propelled him into the lead on the backstretch.

Keselowski narrowly held off Bell, Corey LaJoie and Tyler Reddick to finish second in a wild scramble to the checkered flag.

Logano and Keselowski raced side-by-side for the majority of the final 20 laps with a large group of cars lined up behind them waiting for a miscue. Instead, the final 46 laps of the event ran caution-free.

“I couldn’t get a push down the backstretch,” said Keselowski, who was attempting to snap a 66-race winless streak..

“It was a heck of a battle. The coolest thing about this is two veterans showed that you can run a race here side-by-side bump drafting and not wreck the field. It can happen if you race respectfully.

“We were right there. I’m proud of my team and the effort, but there just wasn’t much we could do there on the final lap.”

The three Penske Fords driven by Logano, Austin Cindric and Ryan Blaney dominated the first 70 laps of the race by lining up in a tight draft to pace the field.

Kevin Harvick, in the final season of his legendary career, took the lead for the first time with 71 laps remaining. But his No. 4 Stewart Haas Racing Ford spun on the ensuing lap in front of the field on the exit of Turn 2 following slight contact from Ross Chastain.

The incident ended Harvick’s strong run and resulted in damage to the cars of William Byron, Chris Buescher, Harrison Burton, Josh Berry and Kyle Busch.

“I think (Chastain) just caught me so quick right there in the middle of the corner and then he kind of was up on the rear part of the corner and he came back down. And when he came back down, it just spun the thing out,” said Harvick, who nearly snapped his lengthy losing streak last week at Phoenix.

The final of 5 cautions occurred with 50 laps remaining when race leader Aric Almirola’s No. 10 Ford cut a tire and slammed the Turn 4 wall. His misfortune wound up collecting second-place Kyle Larson.

That set up the dramatic closing laps which were dominated by Keselowski, only to see Logano sweep to his outside on the final lap.

“Brad is so good at this type of racing,” said Paul Wolfe, Logano’s current crew chief who served in the same role at Team Penske with Keselowski in 2010. “The fact Joey was able to make some of those moves on Brad was pretty impressive.”

“Joey was at another level today. He had confidence in his car. And when that happens, he can make magic happen.”

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, March 20 2023
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