Joey Logano Scores Victory In Dramatic Cup Series Dirt Race At Bristol

Joey Logano celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway Monday (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

Joey Logano made history on Monday afternoon.

Leading the final 61 laps in the face of a determined charge by Denny Hamlin, Logano won the rain-delayed Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the first dirt-track race for the NASCAR Cup Series since 1970. 

But there won’t be that long a gap in the future, given that BMS executive and general manager Jerry Caldwell announced during the race that NASCAR will return to the Bristol dirt in 2022. 

Logano grabbed the lead from Daniel Suarez on Lap 193 of a scheduled 250 and held it the rest of the way through a caution for the second stage break and a late yellow that sent the race three laps beyond the prescribed distance. 

On the final restart on Lap 252, Logano pulled away, as Hamlin tried and failed to find grip in the outside lane and fell to third behind runner-up Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Logano’s winning margin over Stenhouse was .554 seconds. 

Logano is the seventh consecutive different winner in seven races this season.

“Man, it’s incredible,” said Logano, who won the second straight race for Team Penske and the 27th of his career, extending his streak of at least one victory per year to 10 years. “How about Bristol on dirt? This is an incredible, unbelievable race track—great job by everyone that prepped the track. Obviously, a lot of work over here the last few days (because of rain that forced postponement from Sunday). We did a lot of work in the dirt department here the last few weeks…   

“Great car, obviously, to be able to execute the race that we did and get a win. I was getting nervous. There were so many first-time winners and different winners than there has typically been. I said, ‘We’ve got to get a win to make sure we get in the Playoffs,’ so it’s amazing to get this Shell/Pennzoil Mustang into Victory Lane at Bristol. There’s nothing like winning at Bristol, but putting dirt on it and being the first to do it is really special.” 

Despite late brushes with the outside wall as he chased Logano, Hamlin now has three third-place finishes and six top fives this season. 

“I really couldn’t see a whole lot,” referring to the dusty conditions late in the race. “I was kind of guessing. I thought I could, on that last restart, run the top in hard, but they didn’t prep it in-between cautions the way they did before. It was just marbles up there. 

“Man, I thought I had a shot there. I cut the 22 (Logano) too many breaks there when he was cutting us off. They had a little better car, it looked like, there in the long run. Proud of this whole team—we’re third-best again.” 

Suarez held fourth place, followed by Ryan Newman. William Byron, Tyler Reddick, Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones and reigning series champion Chase Elliott completed the top 10.

Two of the experienced dirt drivers expected to battle for the victory were eliminated from contention in one dramatic wreck two laps after the restart that followed the first competition caution. 

Running second on Lap 53, Christopher Bell spun in the top lane in Turn 2. Kyle Larson, running the top lane behind Bell, plowed into his chief dirt-track rival in a wreck that also involved Kevin Harvick and Ross Chastain. 

“Way to go, Bell—way to go,” Larson said sarcastically on his team radio after the wreck. Larson, at least, was able to continue but lost two laps during repairs. Bell and Chastain fell out of the race in 34th and 35th place, respectively. Larson finished 29th, five laps down.

“I was just trying to run the water in under yellow,” Bell said after a visit to the infield care center. “I knew it was a little bit slick, but I felt like I could go up there and make some time, and I kind of entered shallow underneath of it and tried to pick it up on exit, and it was just really greasy up there. 

“That was a lot of fun, being able to be out there for that first run was really cool and hate it that I can’t be out there longer.”

An earlier wreck had given Martin Truex Jr. a fright during his quest to win both a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race and NASCAR Cup event on the same day (Truex had won the Truck race that started at noon). Aric Almirola spun on Lap 41 as part of a five-car incident that unfolded in front of Truex, who was leading at the time. Truex barely managed to dodge the crash.

“Holy crap—that was close!” a relieved Truex said on his team radio. But Truex’s luck didn’t hold. After winning the first stage leading a race-high 126 laps, he cut a tire while running third on the final lap of overtime and finished 19th. 

NASCAR Cup Series Race – 61st Annual Food City Dirt Race

Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt

Bristol, Tennessee

Monday, March 29, 2021

               1. (10)  Joey Logano, Ford, 253.

               2. (13)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 253.

               3. (2)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 253.

               4. (18)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 253.

               5. (14)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 253.

               6. (8)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 253.

               7. (27)  Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 253.

               8. (3)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 253.

               9. (24)  Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 253.

               10. (26)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 253.

               11. (20)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 253.

               12. (16)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 253.

               13. (12)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 253.

               14. (11)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 253.

               15. (6)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 253.

               16. (28)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 253.

               17. (4)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 253.

               18. (22)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 253.

               19. (5)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 253.

               20. (25)  Chase Briscoe #, Ford, 252.

               21. (9)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 252.

               22. (7)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 252.

               23. (32)  Stewart Friesen(i), Chevrolet, 252.

               24. (21)  Cole Custer, Ford, 252.

               25. (33)  Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 252.

               26. (39)  Ty Dillon(i), Toyota, 252.

               27. (19)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 251.

               28. (34)  JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, 249.

               29. (1)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 248.

               30. (37)  Josh Bilicki, Ford, 247.

               31. (38)  Mike Marlar, Toyota, Accident, 244.

               32. (31)  Cody Ware(i), Chevrolet, 242.

               33. (36)  Chris Windom, Chevrolet, Engine, 62.

               34. (15)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, Accident, 54.

               35. (17)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, Accident, 52.

               36. (23)  Aric Almirola, Ford, Accident, 39.

               37. (35)  Shane Golobic, Ford, Accident, 39.

               38. (30)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, Accident, 39.

               39. (29)  Anthony Alfredo #, Ford, Accident, 39.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  46.313 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 43 Mins, 53 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.554 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  10 for 37 laps.

Lead Changes:  5 among 5 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   K. Larson 0;D. Hamlin 1;K. Busch 2-8;M. Truex Jr. 9-134;D. Suarez 135-192;J. Logano 193-253.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Martin Truex Jr. 1 time for 126 laps; Joey Logano 1 time for 61 laps; Daniel Suarez 1 time for 58 laps; Kyle Busch 1 time for 7 laps; Denny Hamlin 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 19,24,11,99,12,22,23,6,47,17

Stage #2 Top Ten: 22,99,11,19,6,47,23,43,8,9

Comments

  1. Not a spec of dirt on him , take the windshield out put the screen in and tearoffs on then he’ll look like he ran a dirt race , can’t imagine what it cost to build that track and now clean that whole place and want to do it again next year

  2. I didnt get to see the race. I did watch extended highlights on youtube last night. It looked pretty dusty at one point. Anyone who watched it. Was it an entertaining race? Would you want to see them do it again? Did the drivers say they enjoyed it in post race interviews? A shame the weather didnt cooperate this weekend. I was looking forward to watching this one.

  3. I don’t know about you but for the first time in like decades I watched the entire race in real time and even watched the commercials. Observations included:
    -overall a good performance for Preece that he just could not close out breathing hard on a top ten then closes it out at 18 after dropping as low as 20th. Stenhouse excelled.
    -announcers that in my view knew nothing of dirt that were a constant stream of happy talk and silly banter making excuses for the myriad things that were not going right. Don’t believe your eye’s race fans we’re telling you the ruts and dust are all normal and can be fixed.
    -drivers not being able to see at all is not normal and should not be brushed aside like it’s typical in dirt racing
    -camera angles switching in an instant as dust completely obscured the shot they were showing.

    They can happy talk it all they like but in my view it was a good start with a series of self inflicted wounds from bad decision making from the start. Don’t give up on dirt but hold it at a dirt track for Pete’s sake with a mature track and people that know how to groom in.

  4. solstaseson says

    Go Joey, Truex, Preece, Give Max McGlaughlin a ride too, Too bad we never got to see Joey running up here, Yankess can make em go,,

  5. CSG,
    To me it was more interesting than 90 percent of events at 1.5-mile ovals.

  6. Shawn, I agree….Keep the Race going.. just give them screens on drivers side so they can SEE..!!! does anyone see what a horrible year That Aric Almirola is having to start the year..?? Usually a good driver, just goes to show you that Lady Luck does play a part in Racing.. Maybe Preece can get in that Car next year ??? Full Windshields make Zero Sense on DIRT !! Best thing is 7 different Winners in 7 Races !!!

  7. That isnt saying much. In my opinion those 1.5 mile tracks are more of what is wrong with Nascar than anything else. There is a reason Nascar went to more road courses and tried this dirt race. There seemed to be more of a buzz for this race than any other cup race in recent years aside from Daytona. I was looking forward to watching it on Sunday. Unfortunately couldnt watch it Monday.

    I see the argument for having it at an already established dirt track. I think Tony Stewart would have preferred they held the Cup race at his El Dora track. Some speculate he pulled the truck race from El Dora because of it. I heard the truck are going to Sprint car capital of knoxville IA. That might be a good place for a cup race on dirt. Huge grand stands a track with significant dirt history. Personally, I hope they give Bristol dirt another year if for no other reason than the support series that surround the cup weekend. I loved watching the Late models and modifieds from Bristol last week and there is another weekend of dirt races coming up. I doubt these show would happen without the cup weekend. I did think it was a little embarrassing the truck race had to be postponed due to track conditions. The conditions were the drivers couldnt see with the mud on the windshields.

    I applaud Nascar for stepping out of their comfort zone and trying some new things with the schedule. There luck has just been piss poor with rain affecting both the Daytona 500 and this bristol dirt show probably their most anticipated shows of the year.

  8. As intriguing as this race was, it would have been better on an established and reputable dirt track.

    What it took to build the dirt track, and then to remove the dirt and restore the facility is crazy. 😝

    Why it was decided to build a dirt track in the Bristol Colosseum will be a mystery.

  9. solstaseson says

    1.5 mile after 1.5 mile , snooze fests, I agree, Dega, Daytona , short tracks, road courses fine, Turn em loose on more banked 1/2,,,, 5/8ths miles,,,,,,.Ship em to Thompson around Loudon time. NHs a lil too flat imo.

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