Joey Logano celebrates in victory lane after winning Monday’s Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. (Reuters)
FORT WORTH, Texas — Joey Logano’s four new tires bettered the two taken by Jeff Gordon and Brian Vickers in the final two laps of the Duck Commander 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway on Monday.
Logano took the lead from Gordon on the final lap after a green-white-checker to claim the win in the race that was delayed a day because of rain, becoming the seventh different Sprint Cup winner this season,
Gordon finished second, Kyle Busch was third after starting the race back in 29th, Vickers finished fourth and rookie Kyle Larson rounded out the top-five.
Kurt Busch made contact with the wall with just over a lap remaining of the race’s scheduled 334-lap distance, bringing out a caution that resulted in a green-white-checker restart. At the point of caution, Logano was the leader, with his Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski in second.
Everyone on the lead lap pitted during the caution, with Gordon and Vickers getting off pit road first and second after changing only two tires. Logano and Keselowski were the first two off pit road with four, but Keselowski was penalized for speeding on pit road. In the end, Keselowski wound up 15th.
Logano got by Vickers as soon as the race restarted, and got by Gordon a little over a lap later.
Logano was dominant in the last third of the race after taking the lead from Keselowski on a restart that followed a lap 220-caution. During long green-flag runs, Logano would pull away from the field. At the 300-lap mark, Logano had a lead of nearly five second over then-second place Keselowski.
But, soon after, Keselowski pitted under green a lap before Logano, and by the time both had pitted, Logano’s lead was significantly smaller. Still, Logano remained up front the rest of the way, as Keselowski and Gordon raced for second behind him.
Logano was the lap leader, leading 108 laps. Keselowski also spent significant time up front, leading 85 laps, mostly through the middle portion of the race. Early in the race, though, Tony Stewart was a mainstay up front. Stewart started on the pole and led a total of 74 laps early before getting passed for the lead by Keselowski on lap 77.
For many of the laps Stewart was up front, Carl Edwards ran second, but both eventually faded, with Stewart falling well outside the top-10 and Edwards falling off the lead lap. Stewart did recover, though, to finish 10th.
The race started under yellow, as track-drying efforts were still underway. During the 10 caution laps at the start of the race, several drivers, including Keselowski, had an issue with air from the jet dryers blowing car hoods up slightly. Drivers who pitted to fix the problem were returned to their original starting spots before the race went green.
Shortly after the field got back up to speed, Dale Earnhardt Jr. accidentally got into the grass and his car shot up the track into the wall and caught fire on lap 13. Debris from the incident hit Jimmie Johnson’s car, causing significant damage to the windshield. Earnhardt was retired from the race, while Johnson was able to continue after going several laps down because of time spent on pit road for repairs.
Earnhardt was one of only three drivers who didn’t finish the race, the other two being Kevin Harvick and Dave Blaney. Harvick’s day ended on lap 28 because of a mechanical issue.
Greg Biffle finished sixth, Matt Kenseth was seventh, Clint Bowyer eighth, Paul Menard ninth and Stewart 10th.
NOTES: Joey Logano became the seventh winner in seven races, so far, in 2014. … It was Logano’s fourth-career Sprint Cup win. … Even though Tony Stewart started on the pole, Kevin Harvick posted a record-breaking lap in qualifying. … Team Penske has a total of 12 wins at Texas — seven in IndyCar, two in NASCAR Nationwide and three in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. … Logano’s last lap pass for the win was the third last-lap winning pass of the season.