Joey Logano snaps long losing streak with win at Talladega
By JENNA FRYER
TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) Joey Logano won at Talladega Superspeedway to end a nearly yearlong losing streak.
Logano's last victory was April 30 of last year at Richmond but his car failed inspection, the benefits from the victory were stripped and it cost him a shot in the playoffs.
On Sunday, he made sure that losing streak didn't hit a full year.
"It feels so good to be back in victory lane. There's no feeling like that," Logano said. "It's been a long time coming. We knew the win was right around the corner. I don't have to worry about the whole playoffs thing anymore. We're in!"
He had one brief challenge from Kurt Busch, who pulled out of line in traffic and tried to catch Logano but had no help from a drafting partner and could not get the lead.
Logano screamed "we're back!" on his radio as he crossed the finish line.
It is Logano's third career win at Talladega.
Busch finished second, his career best finish at Talladega, as Ford drivers went 1-2.
Chase Elliott was third in a Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, while Kevin Harvick was fourth in a Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was fifth, David Ragan sixth and Aric Almirola seventh as Ford drivers took six of the seven spots.
Elliott said the Fords had too strong and steady of a strategy for him to have any chance at making a move to catch Logano.
"I thought for sure one of them wanted to win more than they showed," Elliott said. "If it was me, I would have wanted to do something or try. They were not interested in advancing. They were not going to help me move forward."
Busch said his intention was to work with Stenhouse, the defending race winner, to help SHR get a victory from either Busch or Harvick.
"Two Stewart-Haas cars running second and third should have been able to pull this off," Busch said. "I'm happy that a Ford won. It wasn't the right one. Kevin was in good position. I was going to roll with him in any direction that I could. We just got broken up by Stenhouse.
"You wish you could go over and do it again. I feel like I left that one out on the table. "
Harvick felt Busch made his move too early.
"The Fords are so fast, we had five or six lined up there, and Kurt went a lap before I was ready," Harvick said.
Other events at Talladega:
JOHNSON LOSING STREAK:
Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson's losing streak hit 33 races when he finished 12th at Talladega.
He was part of a 14-car accident late in the race when he slid in front of teammate William Byron to start the melee that knocked out two Team Penske cars - Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney - as well as second stage winner Paul Menard.
Johnson thought as he closed in on Byron, the air was taken off his Chevrolet.
"I was in the second lane and he came up near my lane and then packed air underneath us and around it went," Johnson said.
McMURRAY'S LONG WEEKEND:
Jamie McMurray was involved in two accidents at Talladega, including a frightening crash during a practice session in which his Chevrolet rolled several times.
He didn't catch any breaks on Sunday and was in an early accident that led to a 28th-place finish.
HARD TO DRIVE:
The rules package NASCAR used Sunday at Talladega made the cars difficult to drive and changed the dynamic of a race that usually is marked by multiple accidents.
"The cars weren't handling really good, so you had to be very cautious with the runs that you had and where you had them," Johnson said.
Drivers weren't able to make big moves or slingshot passes, and it created a lot of single-file racing.
"I think the cars are a handful to drive and I think that is why we have seen a lot of single file racing, just because everybody's confidence in their cars isn't as high as it has been in the past," Kyle Larson said. "Less big moves and stuff, so I think it kind of gets single file because of that."
Sunday's race at Dover International Speedway in Delaware, where Johnson scored his last Cup victory last year.
More AP auto racing: https://racing.ap.org
Updated April 29, 2018