RICHMOND, Va. — The records will show that Joey Logano started fifth, but he came from the rear for an unapproved adjustments, took the lead from Kyle Larson with less than 20 laps to go to win in the capital of Virginia.
Opting not to pit under the final caution of the race, Larson assumed the race lead. He was unable to hold off Logano on four fresh tires. Logano made the winning pass driving to Larson’s outside and scored his 18th career victory in his 300th career start.
“I didn’t really discuss it much with Todd (Gordon),” Logano said when asked how pit strategy played out. “My thought process was, ‘Oh no!’ right after we stayed out. But we were able to maintain the lead. I don’t think we would have been able to win the race and hold off Kyle (Busch) if it had stayed green. The caution came out. The boys had a great stop which gave us good track position to pass the cars that stayed out. We were able to have a good start, work our way past those cars and tried to take off the best I could. I knew the 2 was so much faster than everybody and I had to get out there as quick and as far as I could. He was on his way to catch me. I think he was catching me a couple tenths a lap. That was all I had inside the car and I burned them up early trying to go. I am proud of the effort of the team. We executed under pressure today and brought a car home that was a 5th-10th place car home to victory lane.”
Teammate Brad Keselowski finished runner-up and Denny Hamlin rounded out the podium.
“I was just hoping for another restart or the race to get extended for another 10 laps,” Keselowski said of the closing laps and pit strategy. “I think we had a ton of long run speed today. That short run at the end…half the field came, half the field didn’t. I just got stuck in a lane of cars that didn’t go. By the time I did, he had a whole straightaway on me. I got it down to a couple of car lengths at the end. All and all I’m happy for Team Penske withe 1-2 finish. We’ll take it and move on.”
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five.
Matt Kenseth led the field to the green flag at 2:16 p.m. He led the first stage from start to finish and won it.
He maintained the lead of the race until lap 164 when Keselowski passed him on the backstretch, allowing Keselowski to win the second stage.
Kevin Harvick passed Keselowski on the outside to take the lead with 170 to go (lap 230). Keselowski responded eight laps later passing him on his outside exiting Turn 2 to retake the lead.
Hamlin took the lead exiting pit road under the fifth caution of the race. He held the lead from 147 to 113 to go when Keselowski edged him out at the line.
Keselowski lost the lead under a cycle of green flag stops to Ryan Newman, who was staying out to catch a caution. It didn’t work out however as he pitted and gave the lead back to Keselowski, which he’d lose on pit road two cautions later.
Hamlin held the lead on the restart with 39 to go, only to lose it to Keselowski the following lap.
Logano took the lead for the first time passing his teammate exiting Turn 2 with 29 to go.
A single-car wreck in Turn 3 set up the final 19-lap run to the finish.
Erik Jones brought out the first caution on the fifth lap when he suffered a left-front tire blowout and slammed the wall in Turn 3.
“Well, we got three-wide right on the start and then the 5 (Kasey Kahne) ran us up into the fence,” Jones said. “I was trying not to wreck everybody and we got run into the wall by the 5 and then a couple laps later we cut a left front, so it’s really unfortunate. We only made five laps, 10 laps of the race and we’re already out, so it’s just really a heartbreaking day. It’s not what we wanted, but we’ll just have to come back next week, bring another fast race car and try to run up front again.”
Stenhouse brought out the second when he made contact with the wall in Turn 3 on lap 65. The first stage conclusion brought out the third.
The fourth flew for the end of the second stage.
Debris, a towel, in the restart zone brought out the fifth. Jimmie Johnson slammed into teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. exiting Turn 2 with 57 to go, lead to the sixth caution.
With 43 to go, Earnhardt suffered a left-rear tire blowout and slammed the wall in Turn 3 and there was a two-car wreck under the caution involving Clint Bowyer and Ty Dillon.
Debris brought out the eighth with 33 to go.
Kurt Busch made contact with Ryan Blaney, leading to a cut tire on the 21 car and he slammed the wall in Turn 3.
The race lasted three hours, 12 minutes and eight seconds at an average speed of 93.685 mph. There were 18 lead changes among eight different drivers and nine cautions for 53 laps.
Larson leaves with a 40-point lead over Martin Truex Jr.C1709_UNOFFRES