ThatsRacin

NASCAR: Joey Logano wins his first Sprint Cup road race

Joey Logano and a crew member celebrate with champagne after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at the Glen at Watkins Glen International on Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015 in Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Joey Logano and a crew member celebrate with champagne after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at the Glen at Watkins Glen International on Sunday, Aug. 9, 2015 in Watkins Glen, N.Y. Getty Images

A bulldozer sat next to the finish line at Watkins Glen International on Sunday shortly after Joey Logano took the checkered flag in the Cheez-It 355.

As race winner Logano was offered the honor of making the first dig in the planned repaving of this road course. Logano did so grudgingly.

“I was thinking, ‘Soon as we learn to win here, they tear it up. Figures!’ ” Logano joked post-race.

Prior to this weekend, Logano had never won at Watkins Glen or Sonoma, the two road courses on the Sprint Cup schedule.

So Saturday and Sunday were a dynamic change for Logano, who also won Saturday’s Xfiniity race. He became the first driver ever to sweep a weekend of NASCAR at the Glen.

“I’ve always liked the road courses, I just wasn’t very good at them,” Logano said.

Logano led just the final lap of this race, overtaking Kevin Harvick as Harvick’s Chevrolet was running out of gas. There was a certain irony to that in that Logano ran out of gas a week earlier while leading at Pocono Raceway.

Races at Watkins Glen are often won on fuel-mileage strategy. Logano was the last among the leaders to pit for gas, so he knew he was safe in a way Harvick wouldn’t be.

“What comes around goes around,” Logano said. “Last week we thought we were really good on gas and we were like two (laps) short. I just knew I needed to push him, push him, push him.”

The strategy was, the harder Logano drove in pursuit, the more it would eat up Harvick’s fuel tank. Harvick finished third. Kyle Busch was second, Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch filled out the top five.

Logano’s crew chief, Todd Gordon, never advised Logano to conserve fuel. And if he did, it might have fallen on deaf ears.

“I really have only one speed – Go!” Logano acknowledged. “It’s really hard for me to check up and Todd knows that.”

Logano already won the Daytona 500 for Team Penske, guaranteeing a spot in the season-ending Chase. The situation was slightly different for Kyle Busch; he still has to finish top-30 in driver points to qualify for the Chase because he missed a handful of races early in the season while recovering from a broken leg and foot.

Busch’s second-place finish rose him to 30th in the points standings.

“I feel like Adam (Stevens, Busch’s crew chief) did exactly the right thing,” by taking a somewhat conservative approach at the end of the race, Busch said.

Busch ran out of gas on the last lap at Pocono. That dropped him to 21st in that race.

“We couldn’t afford running out of gas like we did last week and taking home an even worse finish this week because of how many cars finish on the lead lap typically at a road race,” Busch said. “We’d be back in the 30s somewhere.”

Logano was clearly thrilled about finally making himself into a road racer.

“The first time I came here I was so frustrated because I didn’t know how to go fast. I was lost,” Logano recalled. “Lately we’ve spent a lot of time building fast race cars for Watkins Glen.”

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