HAMPTON, GA. — Joey Logano won Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter Health 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Logano earned the win ahead of Brad Keselowski, Christopher Bell, Corey LaJoie, Tyler Reddick, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, Ty Gibbs and Kyle Busch who rounded out the top-10 finishers.
The defending Cup champion led 140 of 260 laps and took the win away from Brad Keselowski exiting turn two on the final lap.
It’s Logano’s 32nd career Cup win, tying him with Dale Jarrett on the all-time wins list. It’s also the two-time Cup champion’s first win at a track that was meaningful to his development.
“It’s special winning here at Atlanta. I have so many victories of racing on the quarter-mile, me and my dad. It’s full circle. Having dreamed about going straight on the quarter-mile and race on the big track, now to win on it, means so much to me. Also to my race team, this thing was an animal,” Logano said.
Unlike the first two races on new-Atlanta, there wasn’t a wreck on the final lap. Instead, there was a mad dash for the win where Logano’s moves and Christopher Bell’s decisive bump kept Keselowski out of victory lane.
“The bottom came with a huge help. I tried to block, Joey kept shaking, the 20 gave him a big shove and that was it. The coolest thing about this is two veterans showed you can run side-by-side and not wreck each other,” Keselowski stated after finishing second and leading 47 laps.
The 2012 Cup champion is now on a 67-race winless treak, dating back to his last win at Talladega in April 2021.
There were just five cautions for 34 laps – and 20 lead changes among 13 drivers – in the 260-lap race.
Through the first 190 laps, the only non-stage caution fell for Bubba Wallace’s lap 11 backstretch wreck.
Then, on lap 191, leader Kevin Harvick broke loose in the middle of turn one, spun and wrecked. William Byron, himself, Harrison Burton, Chris Buescher and B.J. McLeod – wrecked out and finished 32nd through 36th, respectively.
“I think he just caught me so quick right there in the middle of the corner and then he kind of was up on the right rear part of the corner and he came back down and when he came back down it just spun the thing out. I don’t think he actually even hit me, but it started chattering the rear tires and then I was just along for the ride,” Harvick said.
Tyler Reddick, Ross Chastain, Josh Berry, Austin Dillon, Chase Briscoe and Bubba Wallace were also involved but continued. They finished 5th, 13th, 18th, 20th, 24th and 27th, respectively.
Mayhem struck the front of the field again on lap 210, as leader Aric Almirola blew a right-rear tire and collected Kyle Larson. Daniel Suarez, Justin Haley and Tyler Reddick were also involved.
Almirola and Larson wrecked out. Damage took Suarez out as the team ran out of time to repair damage to the front right-front suspension.
“It ripped the nuts off the thread and there’s nothing there to tighten. It sucks because it’s not that bad,” Suarez’s team said.
“I’m OK. It knocked the wind out of me, mostly because it caught me by surprise, but I’m OK. I blew a tire. I just blew a tire. I have no idea why. We had way less laps on that set of tires than we had earlier, so I don’t know,” Almirola said.
“There was nowhere to go. I didn’t expect the 10 to have a tire issue and even if I did, there was no time to react. It’s a bummer, I was up front finally at this type of racing and we got wrecked,” Larson said.
Suarez, Almirola and Larson finished 29th through 31st, respectively.
Atlanta’s new backstretch pit road commitment line was tested during a green-flag pit stop cycle between laps 126 and 135.
Only two drivers were penalized: Ryan Blaney for speeding, Ryan Preece for a commitment cone violation.
Preece’s penalty put salt in the wound of already being off the pace on seven cylinders. He finished 28th, 16 laps down.
Blaney was third before the penalty, then recovered. He received the free pass on lap 191, fought for the lead in the end and finished seventh.
Nine drivers earned their best finish of 2023
- Brad Keselowski: 2nd
- Christopher Bell: 3rd (tie)
- Corey LaJoie: 4th (career-best)
- Denny Hamlin: 6th (tie)
- Erik Jones: 8th
- Ty Gibbs: 9th (career-best)
- Noah Gragson: 12th
- Todd Gilliland: 15th
- Ty Dillon: 22nd
Who led laps Sunday?
The only drivers who led more than 10 laps Sunday were Joey Logano (five times for 140 laps), Brad Keselowski (twice for 47 laps), Aric Almirola (twice for 17 laps) and Denny Hamlin (twice for 14 laps).
Nine other drivers led Sunday: Kyle Busch (twice for 7 laps), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (7 laps led), Christopher Bell (6 laps), Ryan Blaney (5 laps), Chris Buescher (5 laps), Austin Cindric (5 laps), Ross Chastain (5 laps), Cody Ware (1 lap), Kevin Harvick (1 lap).
Stage One Top-10 Finishers
Joey Logano, Austin Cindric, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Denny Hamlin, Christopher Bell, Kyle Busch, Chris Buescher, Daniel Suárez, Martin Truex Jr.
Stage Two Top-10 Finishers
Austin Cindric, Joey Logano, Alex Bowman, Tyler Reddick, William Byron, Chris Buescher, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Corey LaJoie
The next race for the NASCAR Cup Series is the EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix, Sunday, March 26 at Circuit of the Americas (3:30 p.m. ET; TV: FOX; Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Ch. 90).