Joey Logano wins race, NASCAR Cup Series championship
Joey Logano made the drive to a second NASCAR Cup Series championship a Sunday afternoon beatdown.
Logano dominated Sunday’s 312-mile season finale at Phoenix Raceway to win the race and the Cup championship, the second of his career. He easily outran championship contenders Ross Chastain, Christopher Bell and Chase Elliott.
Remarkably, Logano was ahead of the other three championship drivers Sunday on every green-flag lap except one.
Logano surged to the race lead after a restart with 33 laps to go, firing off from third place to pass leader Chase Briscoe. Chastain was seventh on the restart and couldn’t keep pace with Logano, who had the best car most of the afternoon. Chastain made gains in the final few laps but couldn’t challenge Logano.
Following Logano in the top five were Ryan Blaney (Logano’s Team Penske teammate), Chastain, Briscoe and Kevin Harvick. Blaney failed to win a race (other than the All-Star event) for the first time since the 2016 season.
Bell finished 10th, and Elliott was 28th.
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The race for the title became a competition between Logano and Chastain over the closing miles. Bell fell back because of a slow pit stop, and Elliott’s car was damaged earlier in the race.
Logano’s championship completed a successful year for team owner Roger Penske. Will Power won the IndyCar title for Team Penske, marking the first time Penske has won both championships in the same year.
Logano, 32, became the first Ford driver to win two Cup championships since David Pearson won titles in 1968 and ’69. Logano is the 17th driver to win multiple Cup titles.
“It’s all about championships.,” Logano said. “That’s what it’s all about, and we worked so hard the last couple weeks trying to put ourselves in position. And everything that happened in 2020, I knew we just wanted to have a solid run and do this today. I can’t thank Ford and Shell-Pennzoil enough for supporting me over the last 10 years, getting us a couple championships today. All our partners at Team Penske, everybody that works on these cars. It’s such a big deal to win these championships. It impacts so many people’s lives.”
A major incident involving the championship contenders occurred on a restart with 112 laps remaining. Elliott dropped to the inside entering Turn 1 and was clipped from behind by Chastain. The contact sent Elliott into a side and into the inside wall, damaging his car. Elliott lost a lap as his crew made repairs, and he dropped to 30th place. Slowed because of the damage, he finished 28th, two laps down.
Logano, the pole winner, led all 60 laps to win the first stage. There were no cautions during Stage 1.
The first on-track caution occurred early in the second stage when Landon Cassill bounced off the outside wall in Turn 2 and was hit by Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Ty Gibbs, who won the Xfinity Series championship Saturday, missed Sunday’s race because of the death of his father, Coy, Joe Gibbs Racing’s vice chairman. A moment of silence was held in memory of Coy Gibbs prior to the race.
Stage 1 winner: Joey Logano
Stage 2 winner: Ryan Blaney
Who had a good race: To be very obvious, Joey Logano. The Team Penske driver was obnoxiously dominant Sunday, leading 187 laps on his way to a second championship. Winning the race was just a bonus. ... Ryan Blaney did everything this year except win (the All-Star Race an exception), and he followed his teammate home Sunday. ... Kyle Busch finished a representative seventh in his final run with Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota on a very tough day for everyone associated with the team.
Who had a bad race: Chase Elliott was on the wrong end of contact with fellow championship contender Ross Chastain and never recovered from damage to his car. ... Another fire? Yes. Brad Keselowski ended his first season as a team owner because of a car fire, finishing 35th.
Next: The 2023 Cup season is scheduled to begin Feb. 5 with the Clash at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.