Joey Logano took the lead with 57 laps to go, survived a restart in overtime and went on to win Monday’s weather-postponed NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race at dirt-covered Bristol Motor Speedway.
The win was the first of the season for the Team Penske driver and the first on a dirt surface for any Cup driver in 51 years.
“Nothing like winning at Bristol,” Logano said, “but putting dirt on it and being the first to do it is really special.”
Logano became the seventh winner in seven races in 2021 and it goes along with two runner-up finishes this season.
Far from being a dirt-racing specialist, Logano said he and his team put in a lot of hours in attempting to make both car and driver fast at the Bristol short track.
“Great car, obviously, to execute the race we did, and get a win,” Logano said.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished second, .55 seconds behind Logano.
“At the start of the race, I was terrible,” Stenhouse, of JTG Daugherty Racing, said. “A green race track and a little bit of moisture in it. But as it blew off, we got back to where we were in practice and felt really god with it.”
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin, looking for his first win of the season, finished third.
Hamlin was second on the final restart but tried to run high on the track and that cost him his shot.
“I thought I could just, on that last restart, run the top in hard but they didn’t prep it in between cautions like they did before so it was just marbles up there,” Hamlin said.
“I thought I had a shot there. Cut the 22 car (Logano) too many breaks there when he was cutting us off. Proud of this team but we’re third-best again.”
Daniel Suarez of the brand-new Trackhouse Racing team finished fourth. Fifth was Ryan Newman of Roush Fenway Racing.
“To be honest, I had no idea what I was doing,” Suarez, who was racing on dirt for the first time. “But we’re having fun.”
Martin Truex, Jr., who won the NASCAR Truck Series race earlier Monday and led a race-best 126 laps in the Cup race, was racing for a second win Monday when he appeared to blow a tire in overtime and finished 19th.
Two of the heaviest favorites in the field — dirt-track aces Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell — were taken out of contention when they tangled on Lap 51. Bell was running second at the time and Larson was in the top five.
Larson was scheduled to start from the pole but an engine change sent him to the rear of the field for the start. It didn’t much matter as Larson blew through the field and was in the top five by the competition caution on Lap 50.
Bell’s car was knocked out of the race but Larson was able to continue on but with a lot of damage and several laps down.
In the 100-lap second stage, the track turned seriously dusty and that caused a number of wrecks. Among those involved were Ryan Blaney, Kyle Busch, Alex Bowman and Brad Keselowski.
The race marked the first for Cup on a dirt surface since 1970. The next one, it was announced Monday, will be next year’s spring race at Bristol.
The race was originally scheduled for Sunday but rain and flash flooding forced the one-day postponement. Rain on Saturday also knocked out qualifying.
NASCAR CUP SERIES RACE — 61st Annual Food City Dirt Race, Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt
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
–Field Level Media