For the seventh straight race in a row, NASCAR has their seventh different race winner as Joey Logano won the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. It marks Logano’s fourth career victory in his second season at Team Penske.
“I felt very confident coming into this race,” Logano commented. “Todd made good adjustment throughout the day. We were able to get some track position and clean air means everything. Heck yeah!”
Logano grabbed the lead at the completion of the final round of green flag pit stops with 33 laps to go and looked to have the win in hand as he was almost two seconds ahead of teammate Brad Keselowski. Then, everything changed as a caution flew with two laps to go for Kurt Busch blowing a tire and sending debris across the track surface.
Logano and the other leaders pitted with Jeff Gordon leading Brian Vickers off as they both took two tires. Logano came off third, followed by teammate Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch as they took four tires. Keselowski would be nabbed for speeding, and have to start tail end. Logano restarted third and cleared Vickers off of turn two before passing Gordon on the last lap in turns one and two for the lead. Logano then led the rest of the way to the checkered.
“There were a lot of emotions…..and then the caution comes out and you’re like, ‘you got to be kidding me’,” Logano said. “Team did a good job in the pits and we had enough there to pass Gordon at the end. It feels good to be in victory lane, and in the Chase.”
Gordon’s gamble paid off as he was able to hold on to second rather than finishing in the back half of the top 10. Gordon now leads the point standings, four point over Matt Kenseth.
“We were strong the first half of the race and then when the sun came out, we got real tight,” Gordon noted. “Great call by Alan to take two tires there at the end. I got a good restart there but he caught me. He got into the back of me and I thought I was going to week so second looked good.”
Kyle Busch finished third after starting outside of the top 25 following a poor qualifying effort on Saturday.
“The Interstate Batteries Camry was good,” Busch said. “Jeff was better than us the middle of a run, but man the Penske guys just surprised us there. I got up on the wheel there at the end. I was trying to hustle it, trying to get more but I was just too tight.”
Brian Vickers and rookie Kyle Larson rounded out the top five as Larson scores his second top five in the last three races. Greg Biffle finished sixth, followed by Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard and pole sitter Tony Stewart.
Kasey Kahne finished 11th after multiple issues on pit road, followed by Aric Almirola, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Keselowski. Keselowski was one of the drivers that got damage during the first 10 laps of the race.
NASCAR started the race under green/yellow conditions as they finished drying the track. Keselowski, among others, received damage to their hood, with hood flaps coming up. Keselowski’s damage was more severe as the hood buckled some. NASCAR allowed drivers to come down pit road and receive repairs before the race without penalty.
“We had a great car and an awesome day,” Keselowski commented. “Got some damage early, but were able to fix it under that green/yellow. We were solid throughout the day and then came down pit road and sped. Trying to get a little too much on pit road and tried a little too hard.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who came into the race as the points leader, finished 43rd after making contact with the turn one wall on lap 12. Earnhardt got down on the grass slightly, sending the car across the track into the wall, causing the car to catch fire.
“Just ran into the grass on the apron,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I saw the 43 and just didn’t see the grass. Didn’t know the grass was real close. With the way the a-post is in these cars, you can’t see how close you are. Just a mistake on my part. I just didn’t know that I was that close to the grass.”
In the process, Earnhardt kicked off a lot of dirt, causing front end damage to Jimmie Johnson’s car. The No. 48 Lowe’s team made repairs, though Johnson had to make an unscheduled pit stop for a flat tire. As a result, Johnson got trapped multiple laps down and ended up finishing 25th.
Kevin Harvick’s day wasn’t that much better as he finished 42nd after blowing an engine.
“I didn’t get any indication that anything was going wrong,” Harvick commented. “Hendrick engines are among the fastest & most reliable.”
Martinsville race winner and Harvick’s teammate Kurt Busch finished 39th after struggling throughout the day.