BRISTOL, TN. - The first NASCAR Cup Series race on dirt in a half-century had to wait an extra day due to rain, but Joey Logano came away with the historic victory Monday in the NASCAR Cup Series’ first race on dirt since 1970, pulling away in overtime at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Logano led 61 of the 253 laps in the Food City Dirt Race, driving his Mustang to a .554-second margin of victory at the checkered flag. His first win of the season was his third at Bristol and the 27th of his Cup Series career.
Logano’s win gives NASCAR its seventh different winner in seven races to start the season.
Ryan Newman, charging back from an early race incident, finished fifth to give Ford a pair of top-five Mustangs.
Logano’s Team Penske teammate Ryan Blaney finished eighth while Brad Keselowski was 11th. Michael McDowell (12th), Matt DiBenedetto (13th), Chris Buescher (14th), Kevin Harvick (15th) and Chase Briscoe (20th) rounded out the top-20 Fords.
Logano took charge on lap 193, taking the lead away from Daniel Suarez who had just gotten past early race dominator Martin Truex Jr. Logano would go on to win Stage 2 and then stay in front the rest of the way, leading the final 61 laps.
The NASCAR Cup Series will be idle next weekend for the Easter holiday, returning to action April 10 at Martinsville Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
FORD FINISHING RESULTS:
1st -- Joey Logano
5th -- Ryan Newman
8th -- Ryan Blaney
11th -- Brad Keselowski
12th -- Michael McDowell
13th -- Matt DiBenedetto
14th -- Chris Buescher
15th -- Kevin Harvick
20th -- Chase Briscoe
24th -- Cole Custer
30th -- Josh Bilicki
36th -- Aric Almirola
37th -- Shane Golobic
39th -- Anthony Alfredo
JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang -- VICTORY LANE INTERVIEW
HOW DO YOU SUM THIS UP? “Man, it’s incredible. How about Bristol on dirt? This is incredible, unbelievable racetrack -- great job by everyone that prepped the track. Obviously, a lot of work over here the last few days. We did a lot of work in the dirt department here the last few weeks. My buddy Ryan Flores and my car chief Jerry Kelley doing a good job with the modified and just making laps and learning where I was going. A lot of that helped. Kevin Buskirk helped a lot, too. He has a lot of knowledge and obviously Paul Wolfe, this team, 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.”
TAKE US THROUGH THE CHANGING TRACK CONDITIONS ALL DAY. HOW MUCH OF A CHALLENGE WAS THAT? “It was definitely a challenge. When they watered the track the last stage that kind of changed everything. Denny and I had a heck of a race because he found grip up top and I was like, ‘Well, I don’t know how to do that,’ so I had to go up there and try to figure that out to defend the lead position and then eventually just worked the lapped cars. That was very hard as well as it should be. Everybody is racing to stay on the lead lap, so I was able to get through them as needed and, of course, the late-race caution but what an amazing team. Everyone at Team Penske really put together some really good cars to come here and wing it. That’s what this is about. Nobody really knew what to put in the car and we were able to adjust the right way throughout practice and get into Victory Lane. It’s great.”
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE PART OF HISTORY? “When you start the weekend here you don’t know what’s coming your way. You have no idea and to be able to figure it out some way and then be able to figure out where the speed is throughout practice. Paul Wolfe and all the guys did a tremendous job figuring that out for me.”
WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE FINAL RESTART? “This is obviously my first dirt win. It’s only my fourth dirt race ever, so I had a lot of fun trying to figure it out. I was having a blast racing, trying to find the right lanes, moving around, watching Denny figure out the top after they watered the track. I was like, ‘Oh no, now what do we do?’ So, just a crazy moment.”
WHAT WAS THAT LAST STAGE LIKE? YOU AND DENNY WENT AT IT. “I knew it was slugfest there for a little bit and as you see the lapped cars coming you’re like, ‘Oh no, now what?’ So, I was able to clear them at the right times and I think Denny might have got the wall a little bit and that helped on the final restart.”
YOUR THIRD BRISTOL WIN. “I finally won a spring race. I guess we needed dirt.”
RYAN NEWMAN, No. 6 Oscar Mayer Ford Mustang
“That was fun, no doubt. It was a good run for our Oscar Mayer Ford Mustang and a great team effort the entire week. I wish we could have had a chance to run the Truck race for Coke and Aggressive Hydraulics. I am really proud of the effort and a lot of guys got to see a lot more and experience a lot more. We got turned around there from a racing accident in turn 2 with the 24 and had to fight back and did. We just didn’t make it all the way back to the front. We had a pretty good car. I would have liked to see what we would have done with some track position but I am sure everyone else would say the same thing.”
RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 Advance My Track Challenge Ford Mustang
“Obviously, it was a long day, for sure, starting up towards the front and just hanging around there. We ran fifth or something in the first stage, but we were struggling a little bit with our race car and trying to find the best way to work on it and fix it. It was pretty tight in the middle. We couldn’t get the tightness out of it all day until the last run, really. And then we got really good, but we faded a little bit there and then had a restart and I couldn’t see nothing. Everyone was in the dust and I think I chopped down on the 18 and we wrecked and, luckily, we were able to fix it up nice and made some really good changes there for that last run. We drove all the way from like 22nd or 23rd to eighth, so just really proud of the effort. It’s a shame we didn’t find that change a little sooner than what we did, but, overall, a good comeback by the 12 group.”
MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 34 Love’s Travel Stop Ford Mustang
“It was a fun day on the Bristol dirt. Our Love’s Travel Stop Ford Mustang was hooked up at the end. We passed a lot of cars on that last stage with 50 to go. I think we ended up 12th, so it was a solid day, a good points day, a lot of fun on the dirt. Visibility was tough. It was hard to see, but it was great racing there at the end. Thanks to all my guys. They brought a really fast Ford Mustang and it was a lot of fun. For a guy that doesn’t have any dirt experience this was a pretty good run.”
CHASE BRISCOE, No. 14 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang
“We had decent speed, it just seemed like every wreck we were a part of in weird ways. It is definitely frustrating being the dirt guy and having high hopes coming into this one and things just didn’t go our way. That is just part of it. We will just go on to Martinsville next. We made gains on our car compared to where we started today, so we will keep trying to do that.”
COLE CUSTER, No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang
“It was a struggle for us. We were really good in the wet but then in the dry we just couldn’t get a good balance on the car. We guessed one way after practice and it just wasn’t the right way. We survived and we will move on to the next one but it was definitely a pretty frustrating day for sure.”
ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang
WHAT TOOK PLACE THERE? “It started before that. The 77 slipped off the bottom. I was hunting the bottom and he slipped off the bottom, and I was trying to get in between him and the silly humps there and he turned back down across my nose and hit me in the right-front and kind of ran me up over the dirt hump and I spun. You can’t stop. You can’t see. That’s honestly the biggest problem. In dirt racing you don’t have a windshield in front of you, so you can pull a tearoff. We can’t reach out there and pull a tearoff off our windshield, so you can’t see anything. Everybody just comes piling in because you can’t see.”