WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – A week after running out of fuel while leading with three laps left at Pocono, Joey Logano finished off an unprecedented weekend sweep at Watkins Glen International with his first road course victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Pressuring race leader Kevin Harvick over a 30-lap green-flag run to the finish of Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at The Glen, Logano made the winning pass through the final two corners at the 2.45-mile road course as Harvick ran out of fuel in Turn 6.
Picking up his second victory of the season and the 10th of his career, Logano crossed the finish line 5.273 seconds ahead of Kyle Busch, who grabbed second place as Harvick coasted over the stripe to secure third.
Matt Kenseth came home fourth, and Kurt Busch recovered from a pit road penalty (crewmen over the wall too soon) to finish fifth, as Logano became the first driver ever to win both the XFINITY and Sprint Cup Series races at Watkins Glen International in the same weekend.
“I’m still just trying to catch my breath,” Logano said after climbing from his No. 22 Team Penske Ford. “I was really excited after that one. I was running down Harvick there for a little bit, and once I got close to him, he started to pick up his pace a little bit, which was good, because I needed him to run out of gas.
“I started to catch him a little bit, and I drove into (Turn) 1 too hard (on the final lap) and started to wheel hop. I just about lost it, and at that point you just hope he runs out of gas, which he did in the last corner. It makes up for last week. We lost the race last week the same way, so it makes up for it to get it this week.”
Logano led only one lap — the last one.
With Logano’s victory, every driver who has won a race this season — with the exception of Kyle Busch — has clinched a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, assuming each starts the remaining races of the regular season. Busch cracked the top 30 in the standings for the first time after returning from an 11-race injury absence.
With four victories, Busch must simply finish the 26-race regular season four races hence in the top 30, and that was the primary reason he didn’t make a harder push to catch Logano in the closing laps.
“I think that was some of (crew chief) Adam (Stevens’) worry, too,” said Busch, who like Logano, had pitted for fuel under caution on Lap 58 of 90 and who, like Logano, had run out of gas in the closing laps at Pocono. “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 course.
“We’d be back in the 30s somewhere. I’m sure that was weighing on Adam’s mind on being able to save it and make it to the end and just playing it a little bit more cautious, which is fine. I’m with Adam 100 percent of the way all the time.”
The race dealt potentially devastating blows to several drivers hopeful of qualifying for the Chase on points.
Jeff Gordon had brake problems almost from the outset and finished 41st, dropping two spots to 12th in the standings. Kasey Kahne’s No. 5 Chevrolet was the victim of a hard wreck when the field accordioned behind Sam Hornish on a restart on Lap 49; he fell two positions in the points to 17th, outside the window for making the Chase.
Jamie McMurray’s Chevrolet ran into the back of Logano’s Ford on that same restart, crushing the nose of the car. McMurray came home 40th and dropped one position to ninth in the standings.
If there are no more first-time winners in the next four weeks, and if Kyle Busch remains in the top 30, there will be five Chase spots available on points. Currently, the top five drivers in the standings without a victory are McMurray, Paul Menard, Gordon, Ryan Newman and Clint Bowyer.
Notes: Polesitter and defending race winner AJ Allmendinger led the first 21 laps, but an alternator problem relegated him to a 24th-place finish… Tony Stewart started third but retired in 43rd place after 56 laps because of a rear gear failure… Harvick led a race-high 29 laps, two more than Logano’s teammate, Brad Keselowski, who pitted with Busch and Logano under caution on Lap 58 and worked his way up to seventh at the finish.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – Cheez-It 355 At The Glen –
1.(16) Joey Logano, Ford, 90, $263,723
2.(8) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 90, $205,441
3.(4) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 90, $189,675
4.(26) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 90,$153,761
5.(14) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 90, $119,600
6.(18) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 90, $139,273
7.(11) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 90, $140,406
8.(15) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 90, $87,740
9.(24) Sam Hornish Jr., Ford, 90, $112,510
10.(9) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 90, $128,626
11.(7) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 90, $99,340
12.(6) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 90, $110,873
13.(28) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 90, $89,640
14.(25) Greg Biffle, Ford, 90, $111,873
15.(20) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 90, $111,640
16.(21) Aric Almirola, Ford, 90, $120,451
17.(22) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, $86,690
18.(29) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 90, $104,048
19.(12) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 90, $101,673
20.(31) Michael McDowell, Ford, 90, $74,315
21.(33) Cole Whitt, Ford, 90, $91,123
22.(34) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 90, $117,890
23.(19) David Ragan, Toyota, 90, $103,604
24.(1) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 90, $114,073
25.(2) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 90, $102,335
26.(27) Matt DiBenedetto #, Toyota, 90, $86,787
27.(13) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 90, $90,390
28.(35) Alex Kennedy #, Chevrolet, 90, $75,240
29.(39) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 90, $75,065
30.(42) JJ Yeley(i), Toyota, 90, $75,915
31.(40) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 90, $71,765
32.(38) Boris Said(i), Ford, 89, $71,540
33.(37) David Gilliland, Ford, 89, $79,390
34.(30) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 89, $79,265
35.(36) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 89, $71,090
36.(10) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 89, $107,846
37.(32) Chris Buescher(i), Ford, 88, $70,779
38.(43) Timmy Hill(i), Chevrolet, 88, $65,902
39.(41) Jeb Burton #, Toyota, 88, $61,830
40.(17) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 86, $87,821
41.(5) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 86, $102,366
42.(23) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 78, $67,830
43.(3) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, Rear Gear, 56, $73,544
Reid Spencer – NASCAR Wire Service
Image: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images