Joey Logano outduels title contenders at Phoenix to win second NASCAR Cup Series championship

Joey Logano outduels title contenders at Phoenix to win second NASCAR Cup Series championship

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Joey Logano can now call himself a two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion.

The 32-year old outdueled fellow title contenders Ross Chastain, Christopher Bell and Chase Elliott Sunday at Phoenix Raceway in the final race of the 2022 season.

Logano, who started on the pole, took his final lead with 29 laps remaining and held off his Team Penske teammate Ryan Blaney for the race win and his second championship in four years. Though Logano did not have to win the race to win the championship — he only needed to finish ahead of the other Championship 4 contenders — just like with his 2018 championship, Logano was able to enjoy a double celebration.

“I knew going into this thing that we’re going to win the championship. I told the guys we were the favorite from Daytona, and we truly believed it, and that’s the difference,” Logano said. “I had a good team with a bunch of confidence, and we had all the reason in the world to be confident. I’ve never been truly this ready for a championship race, and yeah, we did it, man. I can’t believe it.”

Fellow championship contender Ross Chastain finished third as he furiously tried to chase Logano and Blaney down. Christopher Bell finished 10th and Chase Elliott finished two laps down in 28th after disaster struck the 2020 champion.

Bell raced hours after Joe Gibbs Racing learned vice chairman Coy Gibbs, son of the Hall of Fame team owner, died in his sleep at 49.

“You wake up this morning and you’re racing for a championship, you’re happy, you’re elated, and then your world comes crashing down,” Bell said. “Whenever you get news like that, it definitely puts it in perspective that there’s much more to this outside of racing.”

Disaster struck for Elliott and the No. 9 team early in Stage 3 in the first incident involving one of the Championship 4 drivers. 

Coming off a restart on Lap 200, Elliott was in front of Chastain and to the inside of Logano. As Elliott and Logano ducked to the inside of the track to shortcut the one-mile track’s dogleg, the No. 9 car appeared to brush the nose of the No. 1, and Chastain seemingly didn’t budge for Elliott.

The two made contact, and Elliott spun before smacking the inside track wall. Forced to pit, Elliott’s car suffered some damage in the incident, and he returned to the track one lap down.

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It was the fourth win of the season for Logano, who opened the year with a January win in an exhibition race at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in the debut of NASCAR’s new Next Gen car.

Logano was met after the win by his wife and 4-year-old son, Hudson, the oldest of his three children and only one to make the trip to Phoenix. Logano took Hudson by the hand and ran up the banking to collect the checkered flag.

His son skipped back down the track, waving the flag and holding his champion father’s hand. Logano had promised Hudson he’d win the championship.

“I told him he was going to meet me out here when we won the race, and I couldn’t be a liar to my son,” said Logano, who also got to give Hudson a ride inside the No. 22 Ford to the championship stage.

“I always wanted to do that with Hudson. He’s such a little car guy, so it was a special moment to ride together.”

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Logano started out front and that’s exactly how he finished — in the first stage, at least. 

The opening 60 laps were largely smooth and uneventful without a single caution flag. 

Logano in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford led the entire first stage, but that didn’t mean much for his title hopes — aside from the speed of his car — because the Championship 4 drivers don’t earn stage points in the season finale.

Fellow title contenders Elliott, Bell and Chastain finished the opening stage running sixth, 11th and 13th, respectively.

Most notably, Chastain started the race 25th — by far the lowest starting position among the championship contenders. But after his No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet was the fastest car in practice Friday, he was able to make some big moves in the opening stage. At Lap 28, he already had gained 11 spots to get to 14th before grabbing one more by the end of the stage.

Stage 2

Like the opening stage, Logano largely dominated the second stage, which was 125 laps compared with the opener’s 60. But on Lap 159, his Team Penske teammate Ryan Blaney, in the No. 12 Ford, passed him for the lead and held on to win the second stage.

Among the Championship 4 drivers: Logano was second, while Bell was sixth, Chastain was 11th and Elliott 12th.

Throughout the second stage — with only one caution for a crash between Landon Cassill and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., — fuel concerns played a huge role for the Championship 4.

With a fuel window of approximately 96 laps, Elliott sacrificed his eighth-place position to pit on Lap 154, dropping to 28th and one lap down. It was a huge gamble for the team opting to pit instead of saving fuel, but it worked out.

Elliott and the No. 9 team got lucky that another caution didn’t come out, and by Lap 169, he passed Blaney and to unlap himself.

Contributing: Ellen J. Horrow and the Associated Press

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NASCAR Cup Series championship race results

Sunday from the 1-mile Phoenix Raceway (starting position in parentheses):

1. (1) Joey Logano, Ford, 312 laps, 40 points.

2. (2) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 312, 54.

3. (25) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 312, 34.

4. (3) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 312, 48.

5. (7) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 312, 41.

6. (8) William Byron, Chevrolet, 312, 39.

7. (22) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 312, 30.

8. (21) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 312, 29.

9. (4) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 312, 38.

10. (17) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 312, 27.

11. (14) Austin Cindric, Ford, 312, 28.

12. (16) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 312, 0.

13. (15) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 312, 24.

14. (30) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 312, 23.

15. (12) Martin Truex Jr, Toyota, 312, 36.

16. (9) Cole Custer, Ford, 312, 21.

17. (10) Daniel Hemric, Toyota, 312, 0.

18. (27) Corey Lajoie, Chevrolet, 312, 19.

19. (6) Harrison Burton, Ford, 312, 18.

20. (13) Aric Almirola, Ford, 312, 17.

21. (19) Chris Buescher, Ford, 312, 16.

22. (23) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 311, 15.

23. (11) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 311, 18.

24. (28) Daniel Suárez, Chevrolet, 311, 13.

25. (20) Michael McDowell, Ford, 311, 12.

26. (32) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 311, 11.

27. (26) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 311, 10.

28. (5) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 310, 9.

29. (31) Todd Gilliland, Ford, 309, 8.

30. (34) Cody Ware, Ford, 308, 7.

31. (33) BJ McLeod, Ford, 307, 0.

32. (29) Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Chevrolet, 307, 5.

33. (35) Garrett Smithley, Ford, 304, 0.

34. (24) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 304, 3.

35. (18) Brad Keselowski, Ford, electrical, 270, 2.

36. (36) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, accident, 84, 0.

––– Race Statistics

Average Speed of Race Winner: 104.758 mph.

Time of Race: 2 hours, 58 minutes, 42 seconds.

Margin of Victory: 0.301 seconds.

Caution Flags: 6 for 39 laps.

Lead Changes: 11 among 6 drivers.

Lap Leaders: J.Logano 0-87; C.Custer 88-90; J.Logano 91-158; R.Blaney 159-187; J.Logano 188; R.Blaney 189-251; A.Allmendinger 252; A.Bowman 253; R.Blaney 254-270; J.Logano 271; C.Briscoe 272-282; J.Logano 283-312

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Led, Laps Led): J.Logano, 5 times for 187 laps; R.Blaney, 3 times for 109 laps; C.Briscoe, 1 time for 11 laps; C.Custer, 1 time for 3 laps; A.Allmendinger, 1 time for 1 lap; A.Bowman, 1 time for 1 lap.

Wins: C.Elliott, 5; J.Logano, 3; C.Bell, 3; K.Larson, 3; T.Reddick, 3; R.Chastain, 2; D.Hamlin, 2; W.Byron, 2; K.H4rvick, 2; D.Suárez, 1; C.Briscoe, 1; A.Dillon, 1; A.Cindric, 1; Ky.Busch, 1; A.Bowman, 1; E.Jones, 1; B.Wallace, 1; C.Buescher, 1; Ku.Busch, 1.

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