Logano holds off Keselowski for Penske 1-2 in Las Vegas
Joey Logano driving the #22 Pennzoil Ford held off teammate Brad Keselowski to win the Pennzoil 400 NASCAR Monster Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Sunday.
It was the second Penske win in a row as Brad Keselowski took home the bacon in Atlanta last weekend.
Logano drove his Team Penske Ford to his 22nd career victory and his first of the season. He had never won a Cup race in Vegas in 11 tries during his first 10 full-time seasons.
Kyle Busch was third in the #18 Toyota and probably would have won had he not lost a lap earlier for speeding on pit lane. He was closing on the leaders at the end but ended up 1.4 sec. short.
Busch was going for the weekend sweep, as he won both the Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck Series races this weekend at his home track of Las Vegas. Polesitter Kevin Harvick pulled in a fourth-place result in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, while Kurt Busch’s No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet rounded out the top five.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. enjoyed a strong run after starting inside the top 10, his No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford running near the front of the field the majority of the day. He ended the day sixth.
Pit road penalties for Austin Dillon — who led both practice sessions — and Kyle Larson put both cars in early holes in the desert.
The race ran caution-free except for the cautions thrown at the end of Stage 1 and Stage 2.
The lack of cautions might be attributable to the increased downforce installed on the cars for the first time together in 2019. Drivers hardly had to let off the gas in the corners and had more aerodynamic stability than they had at Las Vegas in 2018. While drivers were on the edge looking for as much speed as possible, few drivers seemed on the edge of control.
It was pretty much 100% throttle racing the full race.
“I said we’re going to do donuts on that giant infield logo after the race, and we were able to do it,” said Logano, who won for the first time this season, the first time at Las Vegas and the 22nd time in his career.
“What a great race. Brad and I were so evenly matched, and you just can’t drive away (with the lead). In the last five or six laps, Brad was catching me so quick, and I got stuck behind a lapped car. Man, it was so close. Lots of fun – my heart’s still running hard.”
Keselowski, who won last week at Atlanta, had a huge run through Turns 3 and 4 on the final lap, but Logano was able to clear his teammate off the final corner – with inches to spare – straighten his No. 22 Ford and head for the checkered flag.
“Team Penske going 1-2 shows the kind of speed we’ve got this season.”
On Lap 240 of 267 in a race whose only two cautions were the breaks between stages, Keselowski passed Logano in traffic to take the lead. Four laps later, Logano returned the favor and held the top spot the rest of the way.
“It was a good battle,” Keselowski said. “We were both running really hard on the top. It seemed to come down to what the lapped cars were going to do. The lapped cars screwed the leader, and the second-place guy got a really good run.
In the end, the event came down to the final few laps, with Keselowski trimming Logano’s lead from just over a second to next-to-nothing with two laps left. Keselowski’s last-ditch try through the final two corners came up just short. The driver of the No. 2 Ford would have liked one more lap to settle the issue.
“I’d sure like to find out,” Keselowski said. “I passed Joey with the lapped traffic there and caught a break there, and then lapped traffic cost me the lead to Joey and he pulled a good slide job (off Turn 4 on the final lap).
“I tried to pull it back, and I was just a touch too nice to him.”
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