Joey Logano held off a hard charging Kevin Harvick in the final 63 laps Saturday night to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Logano led a total of 176 of the 500 laps and survived a high speed game of chess with the reigning NASCAR champion to score his third victory of the year, the 11th of his career and his second in the last three Bristol races. He became the first driver since 2009-2010 to score back to back wins in the Bristol night race. Here’s how it all went down Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Denny Hamlin led the field to the green from his third Bristol pole. He quickly jumped to the front and Kyle Busch and Carl Edward battled for second. By lap 4 Edwards had slid into third behind Busch. Edwards was trying to hold off David Ragan and Joey Logano. The top 10 were single file by lap eight. It was Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Edwards, Ragan, Logano, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Jimmie Johnson.
Busch was looking for the lead on lap 19 as Johnson was fighting Matt Kenseth for tenth. Hamlin had caught the back of the field by lap 21. Hamlin was high Busch was threatening for the lead on the low line. Busch powered by Hamlin for the lead in traffic on lap 27. By lap 30, ten cars were a lap down. Busch had a 1.6 second lead by lap 36. Hamlin had caught Busch in heavy traffic by lap 45. As soon as they cleared the traffic, Busch began to reopen the lead.
The first caution came out on lap 52 for debris. The leaders came in for stops. Kyle Busch won off pit road followed by Kyle Larson, Logano, Edwards and Hamlin. Earnhardt returned to pit road as he needed his front right lug nuts tightened. The green came out on lap 58; Busch went to the lead as Hamlin jumped into second ahead of Larson.
Kenseth, who won here in the spring and had made it to fifth, slowed with engine issues on lap 111; his night was done and he went to the garage.
Caution two came out on lap 126 when Larson, who was in the top five, lost a tire and smacked the wall. The leaders came in for stops. Hamlin won the race off pit road, Busch was second, Logano third, Harvick fourth and Edwards fifth; all had taken four tires and fuel. Harvick was penalized for his crew going over the wall too soon and he was sent to the back of the field.
Green came out on lap 133; Hamlin got the lead, Busch was second, Logano third; Clint Bowyer was fourth, Edwards fifth. AJ Allmendinger lost a tire and spun into the inside wall bringing out caution three on lap 147. The leaders stayed out as several from 14th back pitted. Harvick who had made his way back up to 23rd was among those who pitted. The green came back out on lap 152. Hamlin leapt to the lead but Busch was close behind; Logano, Bowyer, and Edwards rounded out the top five.
Busch took the lead on the high side on lap 155. Logano was soon stalking Hamlin for second. Hamlin closed the gap by lap 163 but couldn’t get by for the lead. Hamlin dropped back in traffic by lap 167. ON lap 169 Logano was again looking for second, he got the spot on lap 174. Bowyer went to third under Hamlin on lap 181.
Busch was caught up in traffic on lap 199 and Logano was close behind looking for the lead down low. By lap 205, Hamlin had fallen to fifth. By lap 224 Logano was looking for the lead again; on lap 225 Logano got the lead for the first time. Bowyer was looking for second from Busch on lap 231 and got the spot at the start of lap 232. Earnhardt Jr. fought to stay in front of Logano and on the lead lap in 17th but on lap 259 he slid into the wall and Logano got by. Caution four came out shortly after on lap 250 for debris possibly from Earnhardt. The leaders all pitted. Edwards won the race off pit road, Kyle Busch was second, Bowyer third, Logano fourth and Martin Truex Jr. fifth; all took four tires.
The restart came on lap 257. Edwards on the bottom was able to get in front of Busch for the lead as Bowyer and Logano contested third. Truex had fallen out of the top 10 by lap 273 and pitted, he took two tires after reporting a loose wheel. Busch caught Edwards on lap 280 while in traffic; he had the lead by lap 281. With 200 laps to go, Kyle Busch led, Edwards was close behind, Logano was third, Bowyer fourth and Kurt Busch had moved into fifth. On lap 303, Edwards retook the lead from Busch who reported he was getting loose; Logano got second a few laps later. Ragan and Kurt Busch got together on lap 337 and Busch was spun hard into the wall, but kept going. Kyle Busch pitted from third on lap 344, reporting a loose wheel. On the track Logano and Edwards were fighting for the lead; Logano got the lead on lap 347. Kyle Busch had rejoined the field and was 17th just in front of the leaders. Edwards got back by Logano in traffic on lap 351. Edwards got loose and nearly spun on lap 354 with a flat tire; he pitted as Logano went back to the lead.
Caution five came out on lap 358 when Larson hit the wall hard after blowing a right front tire. The leaders all came in for stops. Harvick was penalized for speeding on pit road. Kyle Busch got back on the lead lap. The green came out on lap 368 with Logano leading, Hamlin second, Ragan third, Bowyer fourth and Johnson fifth. Harvick restarted 13th. Logano went back to the lead, Hamlin took over second, Ragan held third for a lap until Johnson got to him and dueled for the spot. Johnson had the spot a lap later on the top but got loose and got into Ragan underneath; Ragan spun getting into Bowyer below him; Ragan came to rest on the inside wall, and Bowyer held on for a bit but got tapped by Keselowski and spun as well. Bowyer and Ragan both continued as caution six flew. Kyle Busch was among the few who pitted; Bowyer and Earnhardt also pitted.
Green came out on lap 379 with Logano leading, Hamlin second, Jeff Gordon third. Logano went to the lead as Gordon took over second for a lap until Hamlin was able to get under him and the two started fighting for the spot as Johnson lurked. The battle didn’t last long as caution seven came out for debris on lap 384 after Stenhouse Jr. was hit from behind, spun, hit the wall but was able to continue. Harvick was among those few who pitted.
Logano led when the green came back out on lap 390, Gordon was second, Hamlin third, Keselowski who had just made a pass on Johnson was fourth and Johnson fifth. Kyle Busch was back into the top 10 and restarted ninth. Logano retook the lead as Gordon and Keselowski fought for second. Two laps later Keselowski had the spot. Soon Gordon was falling back and he was passed by Earnhardt; Kyle Busch got by first Hamlin then Gordon to take over fourth. Gordon settled into fifth. Gordon reported a vibration and pitted on lap 408. Busch went to third on lap 416; Gordon got by Earnhardt shortly after as Earnhardt began to fade. By lap 422 Busch was third, Hamlin was fourth and Harvick had recovered to take of fifth.
Caution eight came out on lap 429 for debris. Logano led the leaders with the exception of Keselowski and Gordon to pit road. Logano led off pit road, Busch was second, Hamlin third, Harvick fourth and Johnson fifth. Kyle Busch was penalized for being too fast on pit road and forced to the back of the field.
Green came back out on lap 437. Logano rocketed past Keselowski for the lead, Harvick went to third with Hamlin close behind. Two laps later Hamlin and Harvick spilt Keselowski for second and third. By lap 443, Keselowski was in sixth being stalked by Bowyer who had made a nice recovery.
Harvick caught Logano on lap 448 and was looking for the lead. The duo were running almost totally different lines and remained within a few car lengths as the laps wound down. In lapped traffic the gap widened to almost a second with 25 laps to go. Gordon pitted with another loose wheel on lap 476. Kyle Busch made his way back inside the top ten, making it to ninth with 14 laps to go.
Harvick closed the gap when Logano was caught up in traffic with 11 to go. With 10 to go, Harvick was nearing Logano. Again in lapped traffic, Harvick was right behind Logano with five to go. Logano and Harvick broke free of the lapped traffic with four to go, and Logano began to break away. Harvick tried one more time to get to Logano on the final lap but came up short and Logano went on to score his second career Bristol win the first coming in the same race last year. The second place was Harvick’s 10th runner up finish since his last win in March.
Hamlin was third, Johnson fourth and Bowyer was fifth. Keselowski was sixth, Edwards seventh, Kyle Busch eighth ,Earnhardt Jr. ninth and Ryan Newman 10th. The full results can be found here. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series takes a week off and will be back in action on Labor Day weekend with the Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Sunday, September 6 at 7:00 p.m. ET.