Joey Logano found his way to the winner’s circle for the first time this season when he won Saturday’s Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway
The victory in the high-profile exhibition – while worth $1 million in prize money – won’t do Logano any good in the points standings, nor did it get him into the postseason Chase.
But in a regular season in which Logano has yet to win but has six top-10 finishes in 12 races, he is getting close. Saturday proved as much.
It was just good hard racing there at the end.
Joey Logano, on the finish of the all-star race.
“This team has just been so close all season long,” said Team Penske vice chairman Walt Czarnecki said late Saturday night. “Joey … has had a little bad luck so far this season, but has been in the thick of it since Daytona. So to get this breakout moment, I think is really significant for the way the team is going to perform for the remainder of the season, particularly beginning next week.”
By “bad luck,” Czarnecki might mean two races in which Logano was involved in wrecks, producing a 25th-place finish at Talladega and a 38th at Kansas.
By “next week,” Czarnecki was referring to the Coca-Cola 600, scheduled for Sunday at Charlotte, where, despite his lack of victories this season, Logano will be among the favorites. He has actually won two straight at Charlotte, with last fall’s Bank of America 500 being the first of three consecutive Chase races he would win.
Logano won the all-star race, but he hasn’t won a points race this season.
Logano’s skill at Charlotte played a significant role in his all-star victory. After Kyle Larson opened the final 13-lap segment by passing Jimmie Johnson for the lead, Logano went to work.
Logano, who restarted fifth, soon caught Larson. Racing side-by-side for a few laps, Larson couldn’t keep his No. 42 Chevy from hitting the first-turn wall with two laps remaining. Logano sailed away and won by 1.142 seconds over Penske teammate Brad Keselowski.
1.142 Margin of Logano’s all-star victory, in seconds
“I knew we were going to race really hard,” Logano said. “It’s for a million bucks, and I was able, around Lap 6, to move up the racetrack and find some speed. Obviously Kyle saw that, he moved up and then I knew I was going to have to make the bottom work somehow.
“Once I had position on him going into the corner, I had to make sure I kept him on the quarter-panel and not to the door. So I knew he was going to drive in to try to suck me around from the outside and I knew I had to drive in to make sure he didn’t do that. It was just good hard racing there at the end.”
Logano hopes to be there at the end Sunday, as well.