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Joey Logano saves the most fuel, coasts to Nashville victory

Written by Sean McKean

Credit - Sean Gardner / Getty Images

Following a race that featured pivotal fuel-saving with five overtime restarts, it was Joey Logano who snuck through to take his first victory of the season. This is Logano's first victory at Nashville and first since the Atlanta spring race in 2023.

As it unfolded

From pole position, Denny Hamlin led the field to the green and kept the lead. However, he lost it only 16 laps into the event. Justin Haley – who had served a drive-through penalty – was going a lap down, but he blocked the #11 car – allowing last week’s winner Christopher Bell to take the lead.

Bell remained in front for 20 more laps until pit cycles arrived. Everyone pitted in two to three-car trains, but Michael McDowell decided to gamble on a caution and stay out. That caution never arrived, though, thus allowing Bell to assume the lead on lap 80.

The stage ended caution-free. The top three were Bell, Hamlin, and Tyler Reddick.

Having won the race off pit road, Denny Hamlin led the field to the green once again. This time, he defended the lead from Bell.

During this stint, multiple teams reported a threat of rain. Subsequently, many changed their long-term strategies.

However, said long-term strategies were unable to unfold as the first caution came out on Lap 116. John Hunter Nemechek – running towards the back – went for a spin off Turn 4. As a result, this brought every lead-lap car into the pits, with Bell and Brad Keselowski being the first two cars out.

The two aforementioned drivers led the field to the green on Lap 123, but it only took three laps for the yellow flag to be waived once more. Coming off Turn 4, Ty Gibbs was sent into a spin after reacting to Alex Bowman coming down. The #54 spun through the infield grass but remained undamaged.

The restart on Lap 131 lasted for a short amount of time, as the caution soon came out for lightning in the area. Subsequently, the red flag was thrown.

Roughly one hour later, the red flag was lifted, but a team was given a penalty. Under the red flag, Austin Cindric’s crew had a fan on the pit box aimed towards the car; as a result, NASCAR felt they were trying to cool the vehicle and sent him to the tail end of the field. Otherwise, no shake-ups in the top drivers.

Christopher Bell and Tyler Reddick led the field back to the green on Lap 140, the former retaining the lead yet again. 

Aside from smaller battles in the lower end of the top 15, Bell was unchallenged as he went on to win the second stage. He was followed by Tyler Reddick and Kyle Larson.

Under the caution, most drivers peeled into the pits. While almost every drivers’ crew was faultless, the same couldn’t be said for Kyle Larson’s – suffering with a jack issue. He dropped out of the top ten for the next restart.

Bell led the way on the Lap 191 restart and yet again took off. Hamlin managed to steal second from Reddick under the run.

Hamlin and Bell dominated the opening half of the race | Credit - Brittney Wilbur / Getty Images

The caution came back out on Lap 202 though. Corey Lajoie and Riley Herbst were battling going into Turn 1, and Lajoie washed up the track into Herbst, sending the FRM driver into the outside wall. The damage would be terminal for the #15

The two Toyotas led the field to the green on Lap 209 once more, but Hamlin bumped Bell out of the way in Turn 2 – making for a three-way battle for the lead before the caution came out seconds later. Erik Jones cut a tyre going into Turn 1, putting him in the wall hard.

The Lap 214 restart saw Reddick challenge Bell yet again. They remained side by side for six laps until the caution came back out for a spin by joint-points leader Chase Elliott in Turn 4. 

Strategies were split for this caution period, so the restart on Lap 226 saw Ryan Blaney and AJ Allmendinger lead the way. 

The race was completely flipped on Lap 228 when the caution came out; it wasn’t for the yellow itself, rather the driver involved. Christopher Bell got loose entering Turn 1, which sent him into the outside wall hard. This crash broke a toe link and severed power from the car. The previous week’s winner was forced to retire from the race.

The next restart, Blaney led decisively again with 66 laps to go. He led for the next eight laps until yet another caution came out for a hard hit for Brad Keselowski in Turn 1 after a tap from Austin Dillon. Also under caution, Carson Hocevar hooked Harrison Burton into a spin. 

With 52 to go, Blaney controlled the restart, but Ross Chastain challenged him for the lead and got it with 51 to go. 

As the race wound to a close, Chastain still led, but Denny Hamlin – on fresher tyres – was closing in fast. With 14 laps to go, Hamlin was right to the Trackhouse driver’s bumper.

Hamlin had a run to Chastain’s outside in Turn 4, but he blocked the Toyota’s run, putting him back on the offensive. Just as quickly though, Hamlin was back. A wiggle by Chastain in Turn 1 allowed Hamlin to come through and take the lead. 

However, with two laps to go, a race-changing caution came out. While battling with Noah Gragson on the backstretch, Austin Cindric washed up into the SHR driver, sending him into a spin and puncturing his rear tyre. 

The overtime restart was dramatic, to say the least. Kyle Larson dove into Turn 1 and hit the apron. He washed up into Ross Chastain, sending the #1 into the wall hard. Other drivers collected in this crash included Kyle Busch, Ty Gibbs, John Hunter Nemechek, Austin Dillon, and Daniel Hemric. The damage was terminal for Chastain. 

The second overtime restart did not go any better. Daniel Suarez went for a spin when the green flag came out but kept it straight. However, Ryan Preece hooked Justin Haley and Corey Heim, resulting in a stackup that included those aforementioned drivers, Harrison Burton, Josh Berry, and Todd Gilliland. The damage resulted in retirements for Heim and Burton.

The field wasn't able to take the green flag before the next caution came out. Kyle Larson, restarting first on the outside line, ran out of fuel – resulting in a stack-up that put Kyle Busch hard into the wall. Despite his attempts to get going again, Busch would be out of the race.

Under caution, two of the leaders went into the pits: Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex.

For a race that never seemed to end, it was further doubled-down on. The field nearly made it a lap, with the top two – now consisting of Joey Logano and Chase Briscoe – battled hard for the lead, but just before the white flag, Josh Berry was spun into the Turn 3 wall hard. 

The fifth overtime restart proved to be the last. While Reddick flied through the field with fresh tyres, Joey Logano snuck through to take victory – having ran 107 laps on one tank of fuel. 

Zane Smith took a career-best second, nearly snatching victory. Tyler Reddick rounded out in third. Ryan Preece took a season-best result in fourth. Chris Buescher keeps up a consistent streak of good results in fifth.

Ryan Blaney finished in sixth. Bubba Wallace and Kyle Larson respectively drove through the field after pitting to take seventh and eighth. Daniel Hemric took his third top ten of the season in ninth. Rounding out the top ten was Noah Gragson.

Catch the next bit of NASCAR action next weekend as they tackle the streets of Chicago next Sunday!


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