CONCORD, North Carolina – Joey Logano crossed the finish line first in Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star race and took home the prized one-million-dollar check.
The No.22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford started the race in eighth place as the field was set by owner points after Mother Nature forced the cancellation of qualifying.
Logano ran inside the top-10 for a majority of the first two segments of the race, and winded up fourth as the second segment came to a close. Per the All-Star format – prior to the start of the final 13-lap segment, either the top-9, 10, or 11 cars would be forced to come down pit road for a mandatory four tire pit stop. Greg Olsen, Panther’s tight-end, did the honors and drew the envelope containing the number eleven.
So the top-11 cars, including Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, Dale Jr., Logano, Kurt Busch, Trevor Bayne, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, and Greg Biffle all made their way down pit road. Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch were running 12th and 13th prior to the end of segment two, meaning they would line up on the front row for the final restart with 13 laps to go.
On the restart, the action picked up. Larson was able to squeeze his way to the lead as the field went three and four-wide headed down the backstretch. Logano was able to clear his way to second and set his sights on Larson.
Larson had raced his way into the All-Star race earlier in the day by winning the final segment in the Sprint Showdown, so it was evident that he had a strong car. The No.42 was able to hold off the No.22 for the first few laps, but with less than five laps to go, Logano turned up the heat. Larson was doing all he could to hold off the charge from the Penske driver, throwing blocks and trying to pin Logano down, but it wasn’t enough.
As the two dove off side-by-side into Turn One with two laps to go, Larson got loose and ran into the wall, clearing the path to victory for Logano.
“He (Logano) did a really good job side-drafting me,” said Larson who wound up finishing 16th after the contact with the wall. “I tried to hang onto his corner there, kind of like I did to Chase (Elliott) earlier today, and I just got really loose as soon as I got down into the corner. We were going so fast I couldn’t correct it, and drilled the wall. Really disappointed but congrats to Logano and their team…”
For Logano, the final 13 laps were one of the few points of the race in which he got to showcase the strength of his Ford Fusion.
“This Shell-Pennzoil Ford was fast when we unloaded,” Logano told FS1 in victory lane. “We never showed our full potential the whole race. Seemed like cautions kind of came out at the wrong time, we lost a little track position, had a couple bad restarts. Eventually had a good restart and was able to get up towards the front and able to race with Kyle (Larson). What a fun race. He was going to run me hard, I knew that, and I had to run him hard. Nothing to lose, it’s for a million bucks.”
The All-Star race may be best known for the prize money that the winner receives – but for Logano, it meant much more.
“This is a race you always want to have on your resume,” said Logano. “It is just so special to be able to say you won the All-Star race. It’s even special just to be in the race, I have missed this race a few times. So cool, it’s nice to break through and get a win. I know it’s not for points, but it is a nice momentum builder going into the Coca-Cola 600.”
NASCAR will wrap up it’s annual two weeks in Charlotte next Sunday with the longest race of the season, the Coca-Cola 600. For most teams it will be a much needed week of relaxation as this region of North Carolina is home for a majority of people in NASCAR. As for Logano on the other hand, he will most likely be using his free time to figure out what to do with the nice big check he earned on Saturday night.