Friday, January 19, 2018
Sports

Joey Logano's last-lap pass wins Sprint Cup race at Texas

FORT WORTH, Texas — Joey Logano had a big lead and was within half a lap of taking the white flag at Texas.

The late caution and extra green-white-checkered laps? They just made his victory Monday in the rain-delayed Sprint Cup race that much more exciting.

With a last-lap pass of Jeff Gordon in overtime, Logano became the seventh winner in as many races during the first season under new Chase for the Championship rules that increase the emphasis on winning.

Logano led teammate Brad Keselowski by 2.2 seconds when a caution flag fell, seconds before the white flag would have fallen, for debris on the track after Kurt Busch went into the wall. Had the white flag come out before the caution, there would have been no green-white-checkered finish.

"My heart dropped," Logano said.

"When you've got like 40-something laps after the last pit stop and a pretty sizeable lead, all you're thinking is where's the white flag, where's the white flag," he said. "Then you go into Turn 1, and you see the (No.) 41 up against the wall, please, no caution. … You get so mad that you can barely control yourself."

On the ensuing pit stop, Gordon took only right-side tires and exited first. Both Team Penske drivers took four tires, but Keselowski was penalized for speeding on pit road and finished 15th.

"I was just trying to get a little too much on pit road. … Tried a little too hard," Keselowski said. "We're in it for wins. We're not in it for second. Second or 15th is the same for us."

On a restart at Lap 262, Logano quickly pulled his Ford away from the field and had a nearly 5-second lead before his last green-flag stop. After the last restart on Lap 339, Logano went inside past Brian Vickers for second place and quickly got behind Gordon's No. 24 Chevrolet.

Heading onto the frontstretch, Logano went low and his four fresh tires pushed him past Gordon going into the first turn.

"He crossed over and got into the back of me pretty good," said Gordon, who took the points lead. "At that point, I was just thinking, I just want to finish. Looked out my mirror, those guys were racing hard being me. A great, great second-place finish for me."

Kyle Busch finished third, ahead of Brian Vickers and rookie Kyle Larson.

Logano, the only driver with top-five finishes in both Texas races last season, got his fourth career victory after leading 108 of 340 laps — six laps more than scheduled in a race that was delayed a day thanks to Sunday's rain.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished last in a 43-car field for the first time in seven seasons after driving into the rain-saturated infield grass, then shooting across the track and into the wall in a fiery crash. He took the blame for the accident on Lap 13 that also led to problems for Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson.

Johnson lost three laps with damage on the windshield and front left of his No. 48 car from mud and debris.

"I just didn't know I was that close to the grass and made a mistake," said Earnhardt, who wasn't hurt.

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