Fuel calculation became a factor in the final laps, and once again the Captain and his team were spot on for their new 2013 season driver to earn the victory.
Joey Logano drove to the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford to the lead with four laps remaining in the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn on Sunday and took his first Cup win since joining Penske Racing prior to the start of the 2013 season.
"This is unbelievable," Logano said in victory lane. "To win in Ford's backyard."
It was not only the first win for Logano in his new ride this year, but it also was his first victory with Ford and at Michigan. Logano also move into a possible chance of making it into this year's Chase for the Cup; sitting in 13th in the standings.
The No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Kevin Harvick finished second and the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet of Kurt Busch was third.
The No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota of Mark Martin was up front late in the race, gambling on fuel mileage. After pitting for the last time on lap 150 of the 200-lap race, Martin stayed out when the yellow flag waved just a few laps later, banking on at least one additional caution to stretch his last tank of fuel 50 laps.
"We knew we needed another caution to make it, but we had the speed to do it (win)," Martin said. "It's not crazy to expect cautions at the end of these NASCAR races."
Despite the yellow flag waving often, it didn't wave after Martin and his team made the decision to stay out, and as a result, Martin ran out of fuel with four laps to go.
"I noticed he (Martin) was lifting early, because I was catching him on entry," Logano said. "He was able to pull me on exit. I wanted to get by him because I knew the 29 was fast, too, and trying to get the clean air on the Ford."
Martin, though, was able to hold off both Logano and Harvick until the fuel went dry.
Logano started off the race weekend by claiming the pole with a new track qualifying record and the ninth-fastest qualifying speed, ever, in NASCAR.
Both Logano and Busch ran at or near the front throughout the race. The No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt Jr. also was a mainstay up front until a tire issue sent him into the wall and resulted in a trip to the garage just before lap 140.
One of Earnhardt's Hendrick teammates and the series championship points leader, the No. 48 Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson, also had trouble. Johnson started in the back in a backup car after wrecking his primary in practice on Saturday. When the race got underway, Johnson quickly worked his way toward the front and was well within the top-15 when his engine expired just past lap 40.
"We had plenty of speed in the car, and I think we were going to be a factor in the Kobalt Tools Chevrolet," Johnson said.
After some time out of the lead, Logano moved back into the top spot when he got off pit road first during the caution for Earnhardt's tire. After another caution a few laps later, Harvick was next to him on the front row for a restart. Logano and Harvick continued on in first and second until the yellow flag waved for the final time with 44 laps remaining.
Both drivers headed down pit road, as Martin stayed out to inherit the lead. On the restart, Busch got past Logano and Harvick to take second behind Martin, but Logano quickly recovered to retake the position. Harvick also got by Busch to take third with 19 laps to go.
Logano's win was the second of the weekend for Penske Racing. A.J. Allmendinger drove a No. 22 Penske Racing Ford entry into victory lane at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Saturday. "To me, it's a great Penske weekend when you think of A.J. yesterday at Mid-Ohio," team owner Roger Penske said.
The No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Paul Menard finished fourth, and the No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota of Clint Bowyer was fifth. Finishing sixth through 10th were the No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford of Marcos Ambrose, the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Kasey Kahne, the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Jeff Burton, the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Greg Biffle and the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Carl Edwards.