Seven races, seven winners for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Looking like he had the race win in hand, Joey Logano had to survive an overtime run to win the Duck Commander 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway on Monday afternoon. And he did it by a scant 0.476 seconds over Jeff Gordon.
Just as the white flag neared, the seventh and final yellow flag slowed the race, sending the front-runners to the pits for tires. Leader Logano took four tires while Gordon took just two.
On the restart, Gordon led momentarily but Logano wasn’t to be denied as he powered ahead, taking the win to become the seventh different winner of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
Leading 108 laps, Logano put his Shell Pennzoil/Hertz Ford in victory lane for the fourth time in his career. Ford has three wins so far in 2014 and scored for the 12th time at TMS, most among manufacturers.
“It feels good to be back in Victory Lane, the Chase, I’m stoked. I felt very confident about this race. For some reason I told (crew chief) Todd Gordon, ‘We’re gonna win this week,’ and I was mad when we didn’t get the pole, but I felt like we had a car that could win this thing today. At the beginning we didn’t, and then Todd and the guys made good adjustments and had good stops all day. And that one longer run I came through and was able to drive up to fifth and get some cautions to be able to get our track position up towards the front.
“It’s been a heck of a season so far. I feel like the Shell/Pennzoil Ford could have been to victory lane a couple times so far, and we’re finally here. I feel like we gave away a couple already this season, so this car is fast. We’re here to be a force all year. I’m so excited I can’t even speak right now.”
Logano expressed concern that another caution flag would do him, but that didn’t happen.
Said crew chief Gordon, “In the first half of the race, we had worked to get ourselves better. Once we got rolling, we knew we had a lot of speed and looked at fuel windows to see what was going to happen. We made the decision on tires earlier, taking the emotion out of the decision when the time came. Four tires worked; it was one of those gut-check calls. And I would rather have Joey playing aggressive offense than playing defines.”
Driver Gordon ended up second in the Axalta/Texas A&M School of Engineering Chevrolet and even though he was disappointed with the runner-up spot, he was happy with the outcome, as he knew he was a sitting duck with only two fresh tires.
“At one point I thought we had a shot at it. We got a pretty good restart. Joey was right on me and I was pretty loose in one and two, and I wish I had gone a little bit higher in three and four. But, he got that run off of four and he got in the back of me, and I thought I was going to wreck, so at that point I was like second would be good."
Third went to Kyle Busch.
Rounding out the top-10 was Brian Vickers, rookie Kyle Larson, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard and fast-qualifier Tony Stewart.
Brad Keselowski was a strong contender until he got hit with a pit-road speeding penalty on the final stop. He ended up 15th.
In points, Gordon has taken over the lead by four over Kenseth and by 12 ahead of Carl Edwards. Logano gained four spots, moving to fifth. Kyle Busch is in fifth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. lost five, dropping to sixth.
Defending champion Jimmie Johnson dropped to seventh in the standings after sustaining damage at the outset.
The race was delayed until Monday as rain and wet conditions forced a one-day postponement of the race.
To allow for additional track drying, the 43-car field started under the combined green-yellow flags. During the slow laps, Keselowski got too close to a track dryer and a blast of air from the dryer popped the hood on the Miller Lite Ford, forcing him to pits to secure the hood. When the race got underway, Earnhardt unintentionally dipped into the wet grass, propelling his Chevrolet into the outside wall. His day ended after three green-flag laps.
“I just didn't have a good visual of where the apron and the grass was and got down in there pretty good,” he said. “You can't run through there they way they have these cars on the ground like that. I just made a mistake."
Debris from Earnhardt’s car clobbered Johnson’s mount, triggering a series of stops to repair the Lowe’s Sprint is Calling Chevrolet. Johnson lost several laps but bounced back to garner 25th place, two laps behind the leaders.
Seven yellow flags slowed the race for 49 laps. The average speed for the 340 laps was 134.191 miles per hour.
The series races again next Saturday evening at the Darlington Raceway.