Logano takes maiden Sprint Cup win
|By Diego Mejia
||Sunday, June 28th 2009, 23:58 GMT
Joey Logano has become the youngest winner in the history of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series after taking victory in a rain-shortened Lennox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
The 19-year-old was in the lead of the race when the caution flag waved with 36 laps remaining due to a slight drizzle. Logano had still to make his last pitstop after recovering from being a lap down following a punctured tyre from contact with Ryan Newman on lap 184.
Logano was less than five laps away from his final stop of the day when he inherited the lead, and as he circulated behind the pace car trying to save as much fuel as he could, the rain intensified forcing officials to stop the race.
For a while the jet dryers were put on the track in an attempt to get it race-ready once again, but eventually the rain did not let off and officials decided to call it a day.
So, a year after making his debut in NASCAR's top series at the same track, and only 20 races into his Sprint Cup apprenticeship, Logano beat his team-mate Kyle Busch to the record of the youngest winner in the series history at 19 years, one month and four days.
"Holy cow, this is really cool," said an excited Logano in an improvised Victory Lane at what he calls his home track. "I thought I would never be lucky enough to win one due to rain.
"I really don't know what to say right now. Especially after my debut here last year I didn't think I'd be this good. My team did a great job and we overcame a lot today. This is the first gamble we've taken since I started over here. We were lucky but a win is a win."
Jeff Gordon, who was expecting the last stops to cycle out so that he would retake the lead of the race, finished in a strong second after leading 65 laps and looking a strong contender for victory. The four times champion just missed out on his second win of the season but was still happy to be in contention for a win once again.
"Looks like it's a Cinderella story for sort of a local guy Joey Logano and you've got to give him credit for the calls they made." said Gordon. "I wasn't very good on the restarts and those guys there, the #2 [Busch] and the #14 [Stewart] and the #48 [Johnson] got me but I could ride right there with him.
"Then my pit crew, they did the job in the pits and they were phenomenal and got us out front."
Kurt Busch, who had won the race a year ago in similar fashion to Logano, looked competitive all the way through and finished third in the end. He struggled however on most of the restarts and was left hoping for a long green-flag run in then end, which would have boosted his chances of fighting for victory.
David Reutimann gambled on strategy and luck was on his side once again to allow him a fourth place finish which puts him closer to getting back in contention for a Chase spot.
He was one of at least ten cars involved in a multi-car wreck on lap 175, when Kyle Busch tapped the rear of Martin Truex Jr as Dale Earnhardt Jr was slow off the line ahead of both on a restart.
The Earnhardt Ganassi driver almost got into his team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya, but instead turned left and got collected by Jeff Burton. RCR team-mates Kevin Harvick and Casey Mears were also involved as were at least another six cars.
Tony Stewart struggled in the first part of the race after starting from pole but following an early first stop he was able to recover and even jump back in the lead following the final restart of the race on lap 196. However he lost the top spot on his last pitstop when a lug nut fell off from the mechanic changing the right front wheel.
Brad Keselowski also lucked into a strategy gamble to finish in sixth place finish ahead of Kyle Busch and Sam Hornish Jr, the latter running solidly in the top-five for most of the second half of the race.
Jimmie Johnson led the most laps but could not recover after side-by-side contact with Kurt Busch while fighting up front, while Kasey Kahne rounded out the top ten despite losing ground while avoiding contact in the big wreck of the day.
Mears also recovered from being involved in the incident to finish 11th ahead of Montoya, who ran in the top ten for most of the day but slid back on his last set of tyres.
The Colombian led the race for six laps and the bonus points allowed him to remain in Chase zone by one point over Kasey Kahne who finished the race in 10th.
Pos Driver Make Laps
1. Joey Logano Toyota 273
2. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 273
3. Kurt Busch Dodge 273
4. David Reutimann Toyota 273
5. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 273
6. Brad Keselowski Chevrolet 273
7. Kyle Busch Toyota 273
8. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 273
9. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 273
10. Kasey Kahne Dodge 273
11. Casey Mears Chevrolet 273
12. Juan Montoya Chevrolet 273
13. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 273
14. Mark Martin Chevrolet 273
15. Denny Hamlin Toyota 273
16. John Andretti Chevrolet 273
17. Reed Sorenson Dodge 273
18. Greg Biffle Ford 273
19. Carl Edwards Ford 273
20. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 273
21. Bobby Labonte Ford 273
22. Matt Kenseth Ford 273
23. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 273
24. Michael Waltrip Toyota 273
25. Robby Gordon Toyota 272
26. Elliott Sadler Dodge 272
27. Regan Smith Chevrolet 272
28. David Stremme Dodge 272
29. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 270
30. Paul Menard Ford 267
31. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 251
32. AJ Allmendinger Dodge 238
33. Jamie McMurray Ford 237
34. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 231
35. Brian Vickers Toyota 190
36. Scott Speed Toyota 189
37. Martin Truex Jr Chevrolet 174
38. David Ragan Ford 174
39. Joe Nemechek Toyota 67
40. David Gilliland Chevrolet 48
41. Tony Raines Dodge 30
42. Dave Blaney Toyota 29
43. Patrick Carpentier Toyota 14
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