Avondale, AZ – Prior to the start of Sunday’s competition, Joey Logano was among the top list of drivers set to win the Championship 4 race in Phoenix alongside Ross Chastain, Christopher Bell, and Ryan Blaney. After qualifying time, Logano won pole position at the starting line back dooring Chastain who led the practice run.
Could Logano make a sweep here for the 2022 race season as he did back in March? Vowing to his four year old son he would, he had no choice but to stay true to his word. “I couldn’t be a liar to my son”. With the championship and contest trophies on the line, Logano had the chance to win at least one of them.
Maintaining a winner’s mindset since his October victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Logano led 187 of 312 laps to become the NASCAR Cup Series Championship winner this weekend. Second place went to Blaney’s No.12 leading 109 laps just 0.301 seconds behind Logano. Ross Chastain’s No. 1 couldn’t deliver his hail melon to the finish this time, coming in third with no leading laps including a few other waving red flags.
Chase Elliot was the first of the drivers in a wreck being bumped by Chastain in the left rear quarter panel turning in the left lane dogleg area of the track. Chastain didn’t lift with No. 9 coming across his hood spinning around backwards hitting the wall bending his suspension. His pit team immediately dove into action beating regulated time getting him back in the contest but at the cost of coming in 28th position.
On a higher note, it was a memorable win for the Penski team with Logano dominating his first contest this year, taking home the championship and keeping his Ford Mustang clear from combustion.
Since the release of the new NEXT Gen car, at least eight Fords have been set ablaze this season either during races or down pit road. Brad Keselowski’s 269th lap wasn’t as lucky. Thankfully he was safe from injury and released from Infield Care Center.
Aware of its hazardous nature, NASCAR continues to make improvements with cars off season addressing safety issues with rubber buildup around rocker boxes. “It just caught fire and next thing I knew we were sitting there. It’s a bummer, but we’ll hopefully (learn) something from it and move on”, Keselowski stated.
During the post race interview, Team owner Roger Penske extended his thoughts and prayers to Joe Gibbs and family mourning the untimely loss of his son and co-owner Coy Gibbs before joyously declaring a good day for his team having their stroke of bad luck lifted with their two big prize winners-Zane Smith and Joey Logano. This year was extra special for Team Penske starting out with their Indy Car Race victory.
Crew Chief Paul Wolfe also expressed signs of emotion during the post interview. Not rushing to celebrate after the checkered flag went up from Logano’s win, he was unsure why he had a delay, “Probably a bit of relief to be honest..it’s uh gosh it’s so hard to win these things and told a few people this before the weekend you know we knew we were prepared the best we could be.. we had the speed when we unloaded and it was just you get into this race, you just don’t want to screw it up”.
Elliot was asked about the contact that was made by Chastain. He chose to say very little about the impact thanking his team and how proud he was of them. “Looking forward to off season and um..I’m really proud of our team for the fight that we put in today and I felt like we just kind of peeked right there you know before I, before we crashed and so I got a car driving pretty good..we just had our best pit stop of the day so that was all really solid”.
Christopher Bell talked about his initial reaction to the passing of Coy Gibbs during his post game interview. “Yeah, I mean uh wow..wow, wow, wow you know just from being out and then the wins that Charlotte and Martinsville and then all of a sudden you wake up this morning and you’re racing for a championship, you’re happy you’re belated and then your world comes crushing down so whenever you get news like that it definitely puts in perspective that there’s more to this than outside of racing”.
Congratulations to Joey Logano on a great season, championship and race win!!