Connect with us

NASCAR Cup Series

Joey Logano Cashes In With All-Star Win


Joey Logano

Joey Logano enjoyed the thrills of winning his second NASCAR All-Star Race and first at North Wilkesboro Speedway. (Photo: Ricky Martinez | The Podium Finish)

NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. — There is no time like the present as Joey Logano and his No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Mustang Dark Horse team can appreciate. Perhaps Sunday night’s NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway proved that their time to win races is now.

Winning the pole on Saturday, Logano tipped his cap to his team for executing a smooth pit stop. Teamwork made the dream work as the 33-year-old Middletown, Connecticut native was virtually flawless in the 200-lap race.

Starting from the pole in the 20-car field, the fireworks started on Lap 1 when Kyle Busch hit the backstretch wall when he was in a three wide scenario catalyzed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. A lap later, Busch retaliated against Stenhouse with a nudge that sent the 2023 DAYTONA 500 champion into the Turn 2 wall.

Nursing the heavily damaged No. 47 car to Busch’s pit stall, Stenhouse parked his destroyed mount with an impromptu discussion with Busch’s No. 8 team. That would not be the last time that Stenhouse and Busch made noise in the race.

While Stenhouse remained at the track, unable to exit the 0.625-mile short track due to a lack of an infield tunnel, Logano put on a clinic. Save for Lap 104, during a competition break from Laps 102 to 108, Logano was not contested for the lead.

Likewise, heading into Sunday night’s race, one of the key storylines was prime, or the standard compound tires, and optional, or softer compound tires. In this case, the optional tires ruled supreme at the newly repaved short track.

As Logano led the way, Kyle Larson, who arrived at North Wilkesboro from Speedway, Indiana, by virtue of plane and helicopter flights, started toward the rear of the field. Larson, who missed Saturday’s qualifying session, made his first laps on Sunday night after Kevin Harvick drove in his steed.

Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson made an impressive charge from the back of the field to finish fourth in the NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway. (Photo: Phil Cavali | The Podium Finish)

Although Larson was 13th at the competition break, for the remainder of the race, he was constant presence inside the top 10.

Inside the final 43 laps, the battles behind Logano heated up. Mainly, Larson drove from seventh to third, taking advantage of his scuffed optionals. However, as his tires heat cycled, the handling was less in his favor.

Denny Hamlin and Chris Buescher continued their strong performances prevalent this season by running inside the top five for the closing laps. All for naught as far as the victory was concerned, Logano was unstoppable on Sunday night.

Logano bested Hamlin by 0.636 seconds while Buescher passed Larson for third inside the final two laps.

For a driver who has endured a difficult season, Logano was elated to have a victory of any kind with his son, Hudson, greeting him on the frontstretch.

Joey Logano

Joey Logano did not have to have high hopes for a living as he won Sunday night’s NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway. (Photo: Phil Cavali | The Podium Finsh)

“A lot of fun when you’ve got a car this fast,” Logano said. “The Shell Pennzoil Mustang, it’s just so great to get in Victory Lane.  All of our sponsors and everyone who stuck with us to get a win, it feels nice.”

Unofficially, Ford scored its second win in a row and second NASCAR All-Star Race win in the past three years. Not to mention, Logano enjoyed the prize money.

“It’s been a while,” he said. “I wish it was for points, but a million bucks is still a lot of money and I feel great about that.”

Hamlin observed the difficulties with passing on the newly repaved North Wilkesboro Speedway. Then again, the scenario, prevalently seen at the short tracks in the Next Gen era, did not dampen his spirits too much.

“Hats off to the track, NASCAR and Goodyear for giving it a try,” Hamlin said. “Hopefully, we learned something here for future short tracks. I hate it for our whole Mavis Tire team.”

Following two heartbreaking weekends in a row, Buescher rounded out the podium finishers. Undoubtedly, the Prosper, Texas, native hopes to parlay his recent performances going into Charlotte this coming Sunday evening.

“I felt like we had a decent shot at it there,” Buescher said. “I was able to pace the 22 pretty good, but there at the end just took too long to get around the 5 car and really didn’t have sight of the leaders at that point.

“It’s a good night on a night where only one position matters, but I’m proud of the group. It’s good to keep our momentum up and we’ll go onto the 600 and go win us one.”

Happiness was found with Logano and his No. 22 team following the race. In the garage area, Stenhouse and Busch squared off in a donnybrook that sent both drivers falling into tires.

Once the fracas subsided, Stenhouse reflected on the incident with Busch in a post-race interview with FOX NASCAR’s Jamie Little.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s car was over before it essentially started in the NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway. (Photo: Ricky Martinez | The Podium Finish)

“I felt like Kyle and I have always raced each other really hard back to the [XFINITY] Series when we were competing for wins, week in and week out,” Stenhouse said. “I never had any issues. I wrecked him one time at Daytona, and he’s been kind of bad mouthing ever since then. I feel like we get along with each other OK outside the racetrack. I talk to him quite a bit.

“I’m not sure why why he was so mad. I shoved it three wide, but I mean, he hit the fence and he kind of came off the wall and ran into me. I don’t know. When I was talking to him, he kept saying that I wrecked him. Just definitely built up frustration with how he runs his mouth all the time about myself. I know he’s frustrated cause he doesn’t run near as good as he used to. I understand that.”

Despite it being an exhibition race, Stenhouse was looking forward to vying for a strong result for some momentum and that enticing cash prize.

“We’re a single car team over here, he said. ” We’re working really hard to go out and get better, each and every weekend. And we had a really good game plan coming in. Our car was strong Friday in practice. I was looking forward to running to the front.

“I think we passed a couple of a cars there and I was excited for the rest of the night and he ruined it. Being stuck in here definitely doesn’t help the frustration. If there was a tunnel, I’d have probably been home watching the end of that but here we are.”

Suffice to say, Stenhouse used his words wisely when it came to the repercussions with Busch.

“I don’t have anything else for him,” Stenhouse quipped. “If we want to do a charity match, I would do that, raise some money for the NASCAR Foundation or something. That would be fun. Other than that, I don’t have a whole lot for him.”

On the other hand, there was no fighting about the tire compound of choice for Logano. Namely, there was no argument over the optionals for Logano to maintain the lead and drive his way to Victory Lane.

Joey Logano

Joey Logano and his son, Hudson, enjoy the feats of a NASCAR All-Star Race win at North Wilkesboro Speedway. (Photo: Ricky Martinez | The Podium Finish)

“Well, we did the first 100, so why wouldn’t it last the second 100?” Logano considered.  “That was our thought, so it was definitely an aggressive strategy, but it worked out good.”

On a day when Team Penske locked out the front row for the 108th Indianapolis 500, the first time this feat was achieved for the organization since 1988, Logano capped it off a with a win providing a million more reasons to smile.

“You said it. Not a bad day,” he simply stated with the trademark smile.

NASCAR All-Star Race Results at North Wilkesboro Speedway
Finish Start Car No. Driver Sponsor/Make Status
1 1 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford Running
2 11 11 Denny Hamlin Mavis Tire Toyota Running
3 5 17 Chris Buescher Fastenal Ford Running
4 12 5 Kyle Larson Chevrolet Running
5 17 12 Ryan Blaney Menards/Wrangler Ford Running
6 19 23 Bubba Wallace Alltroo Toyota Running
7 7 1 Ross Chastain Busch Light Flannel Chevrolet Running
8 15 9 Chase Elliott NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Running
9 9 34 Michael McDowell Charlotte Knights Ford Running
10 14 8 Kyle Busch Lenovo Chevrolet Running
11 20 10 Noah Gragson Ford Running
12 8 19 Martin Truex Jr. Bass Pro Shops Toyota Running
13 18 54 Ty Gibbs Monster Energy Toyota Running
14 6 45 Tyler Reddick The Beast Unleashed Toyota Running
15 4 99 Daniel Suárez Freeway Insurance Chevrolet Running
16 2 6 Brad Keselowski Nexlizet Ford Running
17 3 20 Christopher Bell Yahoo! Toyota Running
18 10 16 AJ Allmendinger LeafFilter/Campers Inn RV Chevrolet Running
19 13 24 William Byron Chevrolet Running
20 16 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Kroger Health/Icy Hot Chevrolet Accident

Rob Tiongson is a sports writer and editor originally from the Boston area and resides in the Austin, Texas, area. Tiongson has covered motorsports series like NASCAR and INDYCAR since 2008 and NHRA since 2013. Most recently, Tiongson is covering professional basketball, mainly the WNBA, and women's college basketball. While writing and editing for The Podium Finish, Tiongson currently seeks for a long-term sportswriting and sports content creating career. Tiongson enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson is an alum of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and St. Bonaventure University's renowned Jandoli School of Communication with a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in NASCAR Cup Series