Total dominance was the single phrase to summarize Joey Logano’s one-race return to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series as he proceeded to win the third annual running of the Weather Guard Truck Race at the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Course on Saturday, April 8.
The reigning two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion from Middletown, Connecticut, led two times for a race-high 138 of 150-scheduled laps, including the final 99, and swept both stages en route to a wild victory at Thunder Valley amid 11 caution periods and a series of carnages from start to finish. Amid the carnages, Logano was not to be denied as he executed every restart to his advantage, including the final one with nine laps remaining, to claim his first checkered flag of the weekend and second overall in the Truck circuit.
The starting lineup for the main event was determined through four 15-lap qualifying races on Saturday, April 8, as the competitors accumulated points for their finishing results and passes to improve their original starting spots during their respective heat events.
With that, Zane Smith, who accumulated a total of 17 points, nine for finishing second behind Stewart Friesen in the second qualifying event and eight for improving from starting 10th, claimed the pole position for the main event. Joining him on the front row was Ty Majeski, who notched 16 points including nine for finishing second behind Joey Logano in the third qualifying event and seven for improving from his starting position of ninth.
With 41 competitors vying for 36 spots, the five drivers who did not qualify for the event were Lawless Alan, Josh Reaume, Jessica Friesen, Jerry Bohlman and Andrew Gordon.
Prior to the event, Ben Rhodes, Kris Wright, rookie Daniel Dye, rookie Taylor Gray, Jonathan Davenport, Colby Howard, Tanner Carrick, Spencer Boyd and Corey Heim dropped to the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments that were made to their respective trucks.
When the green flag waved and the race commenced, Zane Smith rocketed to the lead on the outside lane as the field behind fanned out to multiple lanes while slipping and sliding on the dirt. Through the first two turns, however, Majeski made his move beneath Smith and managed to clear the field and lead the first lap. Then during the second lap, Joey Logano moved his No. 66 Hang 10 Car Wash Ford F-150 into the lead after overtaking teammate Majeski into Turn 3. As Logano pulled away to maintain a steady advantage over the field, Hailie Deegan started to challenge teammate Majeski for second while Zane Smith and Kaden Honeycutt trailed in the top five.
On the seventh lap, the first caution of the event flew for a multi-truck wreck in Turn 4 that started when Mason Massey slid up the high line entering Turn 4 and spun as Ben Rhodes also spun his No. 99 Campers Inn RV Ford F-150 to avoid hitting Massey. In the process, Massey was then rammed into by Taylor Gray and Stefan Parsons as both tried to avoid Massey while Tyler Carpenter clipped Gray’s damaged No. 17 JBL Toyota Tundra TRD Pro as he sustained damage to his No. 41 Niece Motorsports entry. By then, Logano was the leader over teammates Majeski and Deegan while Zane Smith and Kaden Honeycutt were in the top five. Behind, Christian Eckes was in sixth while Stewart Friesen, Matt Crafton, Grant Enfinger and rookie Rajah Caruth were in the top 10.
During the following restart on Lap 19, Logano retained the lead following a strong start while Majeski and Zane Smith battled for second. Honeycutt would then battle Smith for third as Deegan remained in the top five despite being challenged by teammate Matt Crafton.
By Lap 25 and with the field jostling for positions, the caution returned when Tyler Ankrum, who pitted to address a flat tire during the pace laps prior to the event’s start, spun his No. 16 LiUNA! Toyota Tundra TRD Pro below the track entering Turn 4 and was piled into by Spencer Boyd, Kris Wright and Timmy Hill, igniting a second multi-truck pileup, while Carpenter spun behind the carnage.
With the event restarting on Lap 33, Logano maintained the lead over teammate Majeski while Honeycutt made his way past Crafton for third. Behind, William Byron muscled his No. 51 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Silverado RST into the top five while Zane Smith fell back to sixth in front of Deegan, Grant Enfinger, Eckes and Chase Briscoe. As Byron continued to methodically work his way to the front amid a series of on-track battles, Logano was able to pull away and maintain a comfortable advantage over teammate Majeski while Honeycutt was in third as the laps within the first stage continued to dwindle.
When the first stage concluded on Lap 40, Logano claimed the stage victory after beating Byron and teammate Majeski while Honeycutt, Crafton, Deegan, Enfinger, Zane Smith, Stewart Friesen and Parker Kligerman were scored in the top 10. By then, Carson Hocevar, who was battling within the top 20, had smoke coming out of his No. 42 Niece Motorsports entry due to a power steering issue as the field fanned out to conclude the first stage.
Under the stage break, nearly the entire field led by Logano pitted while Matt DiBenedetto, Bret Holmes and Tanner Gray remained on the track.
The second stage started on Lap 40 as DiBenedetto and Tanner Gray occupied the front row. At the start, DiBenedetto maintained the lead by a steady margin over Tanner Gray and Bret Holmes while Logano was trying to carve his way back to the lead from fourth. Three laps later, the caution returned when Christian Eckes spun his No. 19 NAPA Chevrolet Silverado RST in Turn 1 after cutting a left-tire tire caused by contact with Rhodes between Turns 3 and 4. By then, DiBenedetto remained as the leader over Holmes while Logano, who put the bumper to move Tanner Gray out his path, was up in third followed by Majeski and Gray.
With the field restarting under green on Lap 51, DiBenedetto and Logano engaged in a side-by-side battle for the lead for a full lap as Logano managed to pull ahead to lead the following lap. Logano would then lead the proceeding lap on Lap 53 as he started to pull ahead of DiBenedetto and the field.
Just past the Lap 60 mark, Logano was the leader over teammate Majeski and followed by DiBenedetto, Tanner Gray and Byron while Stewart Friesen, Holmes, Zane Smith, Crafton and Honeycutt were in the top 10. By then, 28 of 36 starters were scored on the lead lap. Shortly after, the caution flew when Tyler Carpenter spun in Turn 4.
While the field restarted on Lap 67, where Logano maintained the lead, the caution returned five laps later for a hard wreck involving Kris Wright on the frontstretch.
As the field restarted on Lap 79, with the event surpassing its halfway mark, Logano rocketed with the lead over Byron and teammate Majeski while Friesen battled Gray and Crafton for fourth as DiBenedetto eventually joined the battle. As Gray, Friesen and Crafton battled closely for fourth, Logano maintained the lead while teammate Majeski and Byron battled for second. With the laps in the second stage dwindling, Parker Kligerman made contact with the wall, but the event remained under green flag conditions as Logano pulled away by more than a second over a fierce battle for the runner-up spot between Majeski and Byron.
When the second stage concluded on Lap 90, Logano captured his second consecutive Truck stage victory of the season and of the event. Behind, Majeski fended off Byron to settle in second while Friesen, DiBenedetto, Tanner Gray, Crafton, Zane Smith, Briscoe and Bret Holmes were scored in the top 10. By then, 26 of 36 starters were scored on the lead lap.
Under the stage break, 14 competitors led by Logano remained on the track while the rest pitted. By then, reports of drizzle and rainy conditions were noted around the circuit while the field remained on the track in preparation for the final stage.
With 60 laps remaining, the final stage started under green as teammates Logano and Majeski occupied the front row. At the start, Logano continued to use the outside lane to his advantage as he retained the lead over Majeski and Byron while Friesen and Crafton battled for fourth. With Crafton fending off Friesen for fourth, he then started to challenge Byron for third while Logano pulled away and increased his advantage to more than a second.
Following another caution period with 55 laps remaining amid a multi-truck wreck that involved Chase Purdy, Eckes, Zane Smith and Bret Holmes in Turn 3, the event restarted with 48 laps remaining, where Logano took off from Byron and Majeski to retain the lead through the first two turns. With Byron struggling at the start, Majeski assumed full authority on second while Crafton and Friesen battled behind Byron. With Logano extending his advantage beyond half a second during the proceeding laps, Enfinger emerged in the top five in fifth after overtaking Friesen while Ben Rhodes tried to close in for sixth. Byron, meanwhile, remained in third behind Majeski.
Then with 41 laps remaining, Purdy’s night took another eventful turn as he spun his No. 4 Bama Buggies Chevrolet Silverado RST in Turn 2 and drew a second consecutive caution period involving himself. With the event proceeding under green with 35 laps remaining, Logano rocketed with another strong start to retain the lead. Behind, Majeski carved his way into second while Enfinger challenged Byron for third. In addition, Crafton tried to close in and challenge Enfinger for fourth, which he would succeed past the final 35-lap mark while Friesen and Rhodes trailed behind in sixth and seventh.
With 30 laps remaining, Logano was leading by more than a second over Majeski and a second and a half over Byron amid a series of on-track late battles ensuing behind. Shortly after, the caution flew for Carpenter and Timmy Hill crashing in Turn 3.
During the next restart with 21 laps remaining, Logano managed to fend off a brief challenge by Majeski to retain the lead as Byron and Crafton pursued and challenged Majeski for second. A lap later, the caution returned when Rhodes, who was running sixth, got loose and spun below the track entering the frontstretch. He was then piled into by Friesen, Heim and Hocevar as the caution returned while the field scattered to avoid the chaos.
With the field restarting with nine laps remaining, Logano engaged in another brief battle with teammate Majeski until he managed to pull ahead and retain the lead over the field as the competitors behind jostled for second. With Majeski settling in second, Byron was in third while Enfinger and Crafton battled for fourth. This allowed rookie Jake Garcia to close in for sixth followed by Briscoe, Honeycutt and Rajah Caruth.
Down to the final five laps of the event, Logano was leading by seven-tenths of a second over teammate Majeski followed by Byron, Crafton and Enfinger while Garcia, Briscoe, Honeycutt, Caruth and Tanner Gray battled within the top 10.
When the white flag waved and the final lap started, Logano remained as the leader by more than a second over teammate Majeski and over third-place Byron. With a clear racetrack in front of him, Logano was able to slip and slide his way around the circuit for a final time and cycle back to the frontstretch to claim his first checkered flag of the season in the series.
With the victory, Logano achieved his second career victory in the Craftsman Truck Series in his ninth series start, his first since winning at Martinsville Speedway in March 2015 and his second Bristol Dirt victory after winning the inaugural Cup Series’ Bristol Dirt feature in 2021. He also recorded the third victory of the season for the Ford nameplate and the first of the season for ThorSport Racing.
“The [ThorSport Racing] guys gave me an amazing race truck,” Logano, who will start 12th in Sunday’s Cup event, said on FS1. “It was a great F-150. [Sponsor] Hang 10 Car Wash came on for a last-minute thing, [saying] ‘Hey, let’s give this a shot’. [They] Called up ThorSport. They had an extra truck with some extra people, and put it together. Obviously, they gave me a really fast truck here today that qualified good in the heat race and able to drive to the lead pretty early in the race and then, just pretty much be able to control it. I’m not sure I learned anything for tomorrow because I didn’t get to race the whole bunch, but it was fun leading all the laps. I had a great spotter with [teammate Ryan] Blaney. He was up there spotting for me…My fun meter was pegged tonight. I had a lot of fun out here racing at Bristol. The dirt’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of fun in there as a driver, moving around and seeing the lanes move a lot. Hopefully, tomorrow is just as good with the other car.”
Teammate Ty Majeski finished second for his third consecutive top-five result in recent weeks while William Byron, who was making his first of three Truck starts this season for Kyle Busch Motorsports, finished third.
Crafton and Enfinger finished fourth and fifth while rookie Jake Garcia, Chase Briscoe, Tanner Gray, Kaden Honeycutt and Matt DiBenedetto finished in the top 10.
There were four lead changes for three different leaders. The race featured 11 cautions for 64 laps. In total, 24 of 36 starters finished on the lead lap.
Following the sixth event of the 2023 Craftsman Truck Series season, Ty Majeski leads the regular-season standings by 34 points over Zane Smith and 47 over Ben Rhodes.
1. Joey Logano, 138 laps led, Stage 1 & 2 winner
2. Ty Majeski, one lap led
3. William Byron
4. Matt Crafton
5. Grant Enfinger
6. Jake Garcia
7. Chase Briscoe
8. Tanner Gray
9. Kaden Honeycutt
10. Matt DiBenedetto, 11 laps led
11. Rajah Caruth
12. Dean Thompson
13. Hailie Deegan
14. Jonathan Davenport
15. Corey Heim
16. Spencer Boyd
17. Carson Hocevar
18. Nick Sanchez
19. Ben Rhodes
20. Bret Holmes
21. Zane Smith
22. Daniel Dye
23. Stewart Friesen
24. Norm Benning
25. Timmy Hill, two laps down
26. Tanner Carrick, three laps down
27. Colby Howard, three laps down
28. Chase Purdy, three laps down
29. Tyler Carpenter – OUT, Accident
30. Christian Eckes – OUT, Accident
31. Parker Kligerman – OUT, Accident
32. Kris Wright – OUT, Accident
33. Tyler Ankrum – OUT, Accident
34. Taylor Gray – OUT, Accident
35. Mason Massey – OUT, Accident
36. Stefan Parsons – OUT, Accident
Next on the 2023 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season is the series’ lone visit of the season to Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia. The event is scheduled to occur next Friday, April 14, at 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1.