Joey Logano Takes Ford’s First NASCAR Cup Win of 2023

Logano Claims Ford’s First NASCAR Cup Win of 2023Sean Gardner – Getty Images

  • Logano took his first Atlanta Cup Series victory on his 19th attempt Sunday at the track he has raced Legends cars on.

  • After Chevrolet won the first four races of the 2023 Cup, Ford now has one win.

  • Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola crashed while leading.

Skillfully maneuvering his No. 22 Ford for the last two laps of Sunday’s Ambtter Health 400, Joey Logano ended the NASCAR Cup Series race where he started – at the front of the field.

With a push by Christopher Bell down the backstretch on the final lap, Logano moved to the outside of leader Brad Keselowski with huge momentum and passed Keselowski’s No. 6 Ford for the lead.

Logano pulled into the inside lane through the final two corners and crossed the finish line 0.193 seconds ahead of Keselowski and 0.194 seconds ahead of third place Bell.

“Yes, first of all, winning Atlanta is very special for me,” said Logano, a Connecticut native who began honing his talent racing Legends cars in Atlanta. “So many memories of me and my dad running right here in the quarter mile. This is full circle for us. So many memories piling up there with the Legends car, racing, having a great time.

“Dreaming of going straight into the quarter mile and onto the big track. That was always the dream to do this. Finally winning here means a lot for me personally, but for the team.

“The Auto Trader Mustang – that thing was an animal. Very, very fast. Able to lead a ton of laps, run really hard there at the end, make a good push on the 20 (Bell) to clear me. Great victory. Good to get one early in the season. It always feels better, but what a great day for us.”

Logano’s first win of the season and first at Atlanta came as no surprise. On Saturday, the defending series champion took eight Ford drivers into the top eight positions in Sunday’s race.

Logano won the first stage wire by wire, leading the first 63 laps. On Stage 2, he finished second to Team Penske teammate Austin Cindric. In all, Logano led 140 of the 260 laps. Keselowski was second with 47 laps ahead.

The victory was Ford’s first of the season, after Chevrolet drivers won trophies in the first four races. Logano is the second consecutive driver to win from pole at Atlanta, following Chase Elliott last summer.

Disappointed with second place, Keselowski was nevertheless elated by the quality of the race in the closing laps.

nascar cup series ambetter health 400

#22 Autotrader Ford driver Joey Logano and #6 King’s Hawaiian Ford driver Brad Keselowski lead the field during the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 19, 2023 in Hampton, GeorgiaSean Gardner – Getty Images

“The coolest thing about this race is that two veterans showed that you can run a race here side by side, drawing and not destroying the field,” said Keselowski. “It can happen if you race with respect. I thought everyone did a great job.

“We were right there. Proud of my team and effort. Nothing much we could do there in the end.

Not that there wasn’t plenty of action before the last few laps ended with Logano’s career victory.

After two relatively calm stages where single file races predominated, the intensity increased exponentially as the end of the race approached.

On lap 190, one lap after Kevin Harvick took the lead for the first time, Chastain stopped behind Harvick in the draft. Harvick’s No. 4 Ford broke loose and caused a major wreck on the home straight that involved 14 cars.

Harvick was eliminated, along with William Byron, Chris Buescher, Harrison Burton and BJ McLeod. The defending race winner, Byron was looking for his third successive Cup win of the season.

“It looked like the #1 (Chastain) and #4 just connected in turn 1 and let go of the #4,” Byron said after a mandatory visit to the in-house service center. “It’s just part of the race. That’s how it works – it’s not really in our control. We were up there running in the top five and doing what we needed to do.

Harvick’s assessment of the sinking was essentially the same.

“I think he caught me so fast right there in the middle of the corner, and then he kind of climbed into the right rear of the (car) and came back down, and when he came back down, he just spun. the thing off,” Harvick said. “I don’t think he really hit me but he started hitting the rear tires and then I was along for the ride.”

Nineteen laps later, a five-car accident at Turn 4 – triggered when one of then-leader Aric Almirola’s tires went flat – took Almirola, Kyle Larson and Daniel Suárez out of the race.

nascar cup series ambetter health 400

Aric Almirola, driver of the #10 Smithfield Ford, spins after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 19, 2023 in Hampton, Georgia.Sean Gardner – Getty Images

“There was nowhere to go,” Larson said sadly. “Nobody had a tire problem, so I wasn’t expecting #10 (Almirola) to have a tire problem in front of me. Even if he did, he wouldn’t have time to react.

“It’s a bummer. Just frustrating.. I was finally up front on this racetrack style and still ended up with a DNF (didn’t finish). I don’t know, just frustrating.

Corey LaJoie finished a career-best fourth, followed by Tyler Reddick, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, Ty Gibbs and Kyle Busch. LaJoie also gave Logano a push as the winner moved back to the front.

“I hope he gives me a shoutout for pushing him,” LaJoie said. “I gave him a good chance there at the end.”

nascar cup series ambetter health 400

#22 Autotrader Ford driver Joey Logano celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Ambitter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 19, 2023 in Hampton, Georgia.Jonathan Bachman – Getty Images

NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 race results

Atlanta Motor Speedway

Hampton, Georgia

Sunday, March 19, 2023

1. (1) Joey Logano, Ford, 260.

2. (4) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 260.

3. (10) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 260.

4. (31) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 260.

5. (16) Tyler Reddick, Toyota, 260.

6. (14) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 260.

7. (3) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 260.

8. (28) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 260.

9. (35) Ty Gibbs #, Toyota, 260.

10. (17) Kyle Busch, Chevrolet, 260.

11. (2) Austin Cindric, Ford, 260.

12. (22) Noah Gragson #, Chevrolet, 260.

13. (18) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 260.

14. (15) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 260.

15. (23) Todd Gilliland, Ford, 260.

16. (30) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 260.

17. (27) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 260.

18. (21) Josh Berry(i), Chevrolet, 260.

19. (29) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 260.

20. (13) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 260.

21. (12) Michael McDowell, Ford, 260.

22. (20) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 260.

23. (26) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 260.

24. (8) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 259.

25. (32) Cody Ware, Ford, 258.

26. (34) JJ Yeley(i), Ford, 258.

27. (19) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 255.

28. (24) Ryan Preece, Ford, 244.

29. (25) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, DVP, 213.

30. (5) Aric Almirola, Ford, Accident, 208.

31. (9) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, Accident, 208.

32. (11) William Byron, Chevrolet, Accident, 192.

33. (6) Kevin Harvick, Ford, Accident, 190.

34. (33) Harrison Burton, Ford, DVP, 190.

35. (7) Chris Buescher, Ford, Accident, 189.

36. (36) BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, Accident, 189.

Race winner’s average speed: 138.8 mph.

Running time: 2 hours, 53 minutes, 5 seconds. Margin of victory: 0.193 seconds.

Caution flags: 5 to 34 loops.

Lead changes: 20 out of 13 drivers.

Returning Leaders: J. Logano 1-63;C. Ware 64;K. Busch 65-69;R. Blaney 70-74;K. Busch 75-76;J. Logano 77-131;C. Buescher 132-136;C. Bell 137-142;J. Logano 143-159;A. Cindric 160-164;A. Almirola 165-168;R. Stenhouse Jr. 169-175;D. Hamlin 176-188;K. Harvick 189;R. Chastain 190-194;D. Hamlin 195;A. Almirola 196-208;B. Keselowski 209-226; J. Logano 227-230;B. Keselowski 231-259; J. Logano 260.

Leaders summary (driver, time leader, lap lead): Joey Logano 5 times in 140 laps; Brad Keselowski 2 times in 47 laps; Aric Almirola 2 times in 17 laps; Denny Hamlin 2 times in 14 laps; Kyle Busch 2 times for 7 laps; Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 1 time for 7 laps; Christopher Bell 1 time for 6 laps; Ross Chastain 1 time for 5 laps; Ryan Blaney 1 time for 5 laps; Chris Buescher 1 time for 5 laps; Austin Cindric 1 time for 5 laps; Kevin Harvick 1 time for 1 lap; Cody Ware 1 time per 1 turn.

Step #1 Top Ten: 22,2,6,12,11,20,8,17,99,19

Step #2 Top Ten: 2,22,48,45,24,17,19,11,6,7

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