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June 30, 2024

Joey Logano outlasts five overtimes at Nashville, grabs first Cup win of 2024

LEBANON, Tenn. — It took a record five overtime restarts to settle Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway, but two-time series champion Joey Logano finally emerged as the race winner, securing his first win of the season and a bid into the 2024 playoffs in dramatic fashion.

With race leaders falling out of contention with each late-race restart — 31 extra laps and 15 total cautions on the day — Logano and his Team Penske team gambled that his No. 22 Ford Mustang had enough fuel for a final push to the checkered flag. Ultimately, Logano’s No. 22 turned 110 laps with that final tank of fuel.

The reward was the trip to Victory Lane on Sunday — the first for Ford at the 1.33-mile Nashville track — and a coveted ticket to the postseason for Logano and his team.

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Logano finished 0.068 seconds ahead of Spire Motorsports rookie Zane Smith — the best Cup Series career showing for the former NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion. 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick was third, followed by Stewart-Haas Racing’s Ryan Preece and RFK Racing’s Chris Buescher.

The 34-year-old Logano said he wasn’t sure how much fuel was left or if he would definitely make it to the checkered.

“I know into (Turn) 3, my fuel light came on, and it stumbled across the line. That was definitely all of it,” Logano told NBC Sports post-race. “But so proud of this Shell-Pennzoil Mustang team. It’s been a stressful few weeks trying to get into the playoffs, and being able to win here is huge for our season. Felt great to get that. Boy, it feels good.

“I’m out of breath. We had it won off of (Turn) 4, and then the caution came out, and I was like, oh, my God, but you can’t pit. You’ve kind of got to go for it. Boy, it was close. But we’ve got to give a lot of credit to Roush Yates, not only building horsepower but building fuel mileage. That’s what won today.”

SHOP: Buy winner’s gear

Logano still had barely enough fuel to do a brief victory burnout in front of the sold-out Nashville crowd that stayed to the epic end despite a one-hour, 21-minute red flag for rain and lightning only 136 laps into the 331-lap race. His crew chief, Paul Wolfe, confirmed Logano’s Mustang ultimately ran out of gas.

“We just got to the point. … we’ve gotten this far, let’s just stick with it,” Wolfe said of the team staying out instead of pitting for fuel. Fortunately, it was enough, but he did run out on the last lap.”

Even before all the extra laps, the race’s scheduled ending featured an amazing duel between pole-winner Denny Hamlin, racing for what would have been a series-best fourth victory, and the 2023 Nashville winner Ross Chastain, racing for his first win of the season. For 30 laps, they raced in front of the field, with Hamlin cutting into Chastain’s lead before finally overtaking him with seven laps remaining in regulation of the originally scheduled 300-lap race.

But just as Hamlin and Chastain were seemingly settling the trophy, Logano’s teammate Austin Cindric spun out with four laps remaining, forcing the first overtime.

Hamlin and Chastain restarted next to one another in the first overtime, but Chastain was hit from behind by Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson, whose Chevrolet’s splitter hit the apron and unintentionally moved him into Chastain’s car. The accident eliminated Chastain with a 33rd-place finish, and Hamlin had to hold off the field in two subsequent overtimes before having to pit himself for fuel – a decision the team struggled to make but ultimately were forced to do.

MORE: Chastain exits after overtime contact

That left Logano and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe on the front row for the fourth overtime restart. Smith had moved into second place around Briscoe when the final caution came out for SHR’s Josh Berry.

Only one (Reddick) of the top 11 cars lined up for the fifth overtime restart had won a race this season, but a highly motivated Logano got a stellar jump on the field at the drop of the flag and was able to keep the challengers behind with other incidents happening as the checkered flag flew.

“The winning side of me is pissed with the second place, especially after hearing the 22 (Logano) was going to run out for the past 10 laps, I don’t know how many restarts,” Smith said of his runner-up showing. “But no, I wouldn’t have done anything different. I felt like I chose the right lane, and it’s crazy how much different these cars drive with cleaner air. Just proud of our strategy there.”

Logano’s Team Penske teammate and reigning series champ Blaney finished sixth, followed by 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace, Larson, Kaulig Racing’s Daniel Hemric and SHR’s Noah Gragson.

There were nine race leaders and 20 lead changes on the day.

For much of the early day, Christopher Bell, last week’s winner, looked like he was positioned to earn the first back-to-back victories of his career. But pit strategy put Bell’s No. 20 JGR Toyota the farthest back in the field. He spun out alone in Turn 2, racing in 15th place on the restart with 74 laps remaining.

Bell swept the opening two stage wins to lead the series with nine stage victories on the season and was out front a race-best 131 of the first 229 laps — more than twice as many laps as any other driver in the field at that point.

“Just put myself in a bad spot, lost my cool, got back in traffic with all those yellow flags and put myself in a really bad spot going into (Turn) 1,” said Bell, who wound up 36th in the 38-car field.

Larson’s eighth-place showing was good enough to keep the NASCAR Cup Series championship lead by 20 points over his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott, who was among those who had an incident on the race’s final lap. Hamlin is 43 points back with eight races remaining to decide the regular season champion.

The NASCAR Cup Series’ next race is the Grant Park 165, the main event for the second annual Chicago Street Race Weekend. The street-circuit event is scheduled for Sunday at 4:30 p.m. ET (NBC, MRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, NBC Sports App), with 75 laps (165 miles) on tap.

Note: No issues were found in post-race technical inspection at Nashville Superspeedway, making Logano’s victory official. NASCAR officials also indicated that no cars would return to its Research & Development Center for further evaluation.

Contributing: Staff reports