Joey Logano became the first NASCAR Cup Series winner on Bristol Motor Speedway’s dirt with a victory in overtime late Monday.
Logano held off Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Denny Hamlin by staying committed to the bottom line and driving away in the final two laps. He led the final 61 laps after taking the lead from Daniel Suarez before the end of the second stage.
The win is the second consecutive for Team Penske, and Logano is the seventh different winner in seven races this season.
“Man, it’s incredible,” Logano said. “How about Bristol on dirt? This is an incredible, unbelievable racetrack – great job by everyone that prepped the track. Obviously, a lot of work over here the last few days.
“We did a lot of work in the dirt department here the last few weeks, my buddy Ryan Flores and my car chief Jerry Kelley doing a good job with the modified and just making laps and learning where I was going. A lot of that helped. Kevin Buskirk helped a lot, too. He has a lot of knowledge – and obviously Paul Wolfe, this team. Great car, obviously, to be able to execute the race that we did and get a win.
“I was getting nervous. There were so many first-time winners and different winners (this season) than there have typically been. I said, ‘We’ve got to get a win to make sure we get in the playoffs,’ so it’s amazing to get this Shell/Pennzoil Mustang into victory lane at Bristol. There’s nothing like winning at Bristol, but putting dirt on it and being the first to do it is really special.”
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) March 29, 2021
Hamlin decided to go to the outside on the overtime attempt. But, saying officials hadn’t prepped that part of the track before the restart, Hamlin wound up in the marbles, and it cost him the second position to Stenhouse.
Suarez finished fourth after leading 58 laps and Ryan Newman rounded out the top five.
William Byron finished sixth, Tyler Reddick seventh, Ryan Blaney eighth, Erik Jones ninth, and Chase Elliott 10th.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) March 29, 2021
Hamlin led the race’s first lap before giving way to teammate Kyle Busch who led the next seven. A third Joe Gibbs Racing driver, Martin Truex Jr., took control on lap 9 and dominated until lap 134. Truex won the first stage, but after losing the lead to Suarez, he never again held the top spot.
Truex, who won the Truck Series race earlier in the day, led a race-high 126 laps but finished 19th. He lined up third on the overtime attempt, but his Toyota didn’t turn when going into Turn 1 and dropped down the leaderboard.
NASCAR officials decided to go to single-file restarts starting on lap 170 due to visibility issues when the surface became dusty. The only lead change after the decision was Logano getting around Suarez two laps after a 192 restart. Logano controlled the race from there to the finish.
Officials also used 10 minutes to prep the track at the break for the conclusion of Stage 2.
“It was definitely a challenge,” Logano said. “When they watered down the track the last stage, that kind of changed everything. Denny and I had a heck of a race because he found grip up top, and I was like, ‘Well, I don’t know how to do that,’ so I had to go up there and try to figure that out to defend the lead position and then eventually just worked the lapped cars. That was very hard – as well as it should be. Everybody is racing to stay on the lead lap, so I was able to get through them as needed and, of course, the late-race caution, but what an amazing team.
“Everyone at Team Penske really put together some really good cars to come here and wing it. That’s what this is about. Nobody really knew what to put in the car, and we were able to adjust the right way throughout practice and get into victory lane. It’s great.”
The Food City Dirt Race had five lead changes among five drivers and 10 cautions for 37 laps.