The wait was well worth the result for Joey Logano at Michigan International Speedway.
If it wasn’t enough sitting through the rain delay for the FireKeepers 400 on Sunday, Logano was ready to sail off into Monday’s sunset when a late-race caution slowed his trip to Victory Lane with five laps remaining in the race.
With a masterful restart, Logano shot out to the point for his third win from the pole at the two-mile track.
“Outside of the crown jewel events I consider this the biggest race to win because it is Ford Motor Company’s backyard and Roger Penske’s backyard,” Logano said. “There are a lot of die hard Ford fans out here in the grandstands right now and it feels great to represent that company and get to victory lane today.”
Logano, who led eight times for 164 laps, held off Kurt Busch by 0.147-seconds after the race ended in overtime. Martin Truex Jr., Daniel Suarez, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick Ryan Newman, Ryan Blaney and Alex Bowman rounded out the top 10.
“I had a blast,” said Busch after tying his best result of the season. “Tightest I ever put my belts at the end of a race. We got enough stage points today, we said hell with it, we don't need to get anything but the win. We got second today.”
Denny Hamlin, who finished 11th, took the lead from Logano on the first lap. He led three laps before Logano resumed the point. The 60-lap segment was slowed by a competition caution on Lap 20. Jimmie Johnson received damage to the No. 48 Ally Chevy when Matt DiBenedetto ran into him on pit road. Logano retained the lead in the pits and held on to win the first stage—his sixth of the season and the most on the tour.
The second stage was slowed by the third caution on Lap 69 when Kyle Weatherman tagged the wall in Turn 2 ending his day. Logano led until Lap 113 when he pitted for fuel along with Keselowski and Erik Jones. Keselowski received a drive-thru penalty following a safety violation for an extra crewman coming over the wall. Austin Dillon, who pitted during the third caution, cycled to the lead on Lap 117 and held on for his first stage win. Harvick, Truex, Kurt Busch, Aric Almirola, Kyle Busch, Daniel Hemrick, William Byron and Chris Buescher completed the top 10. Logano ended Stage 2 in 23rd.
Harvick darted out to the lead when the race returned to green on Lap 128. Two laps later, Kyle Larson slid up into Logano in Turn 4. On Lap 130, contact between Clint Bowyer and Jones sent the No. 14 Ford into the spin cycle in Turn 2. Buescher was also involved. Kyle Busch and Hamlin came on pit road. Keselowski collected the lucky dog and returned to the lead lap.
Harvick held the lead for the Lap 135. Logano regained the point on the next lap just prior to Byron clipping Austin Dillon and knocking the No. 3 Chevy into the Turn 2 wall for the sixth caution. Harvick grabbed the lead again when the race returned to green on Lap 142—but he was never out of Logano’s sights.
“We had a really fast Busch Light Ford today,” Harvick said. “We just made a lot of mistakes.”
The pair exchanged the lead twice before Logano took command on Lap 150. He led 25 laps before his final pit stop on Lap 175. After the field completed green flag pit stops, Logano gained the lead again on Lap 186. With five laps to go, Jones spun off of Turn 2 to set up a green-white-checker.
Logano lined up outside of Truex for overtime but vaulted to the lead. Kurt Busch came from third to second with one to go, but had nothing for Logano at the end.
“Logano's car was tough,” Busch added. “I really wanted it to go green at the end with Truex. I was going to push him straight through the 22. My best shot at it.
“What a day for our Camaro. From Chevy and Monster, thank you, guys. We'll get it. It gives us reason to smile and be happy. We ran up front, were strong in our manufacturer's backyard, but got second today.”
Logano not only had a dominant car on Monday but flawless execution from the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil crew to score his second win of the season and the 23rd of his career.
“It is so hard to have perfect days like that,” said Logano who has a nine-point lead over Kyle Busch in the standings. “I made one mistake on the restart and let the 4 get to the outside of me and really made me mad at myself. I was able to make that up, which is great, we are keeping (son) Hudson up past his bedtime. This is a good place for him to get ready for sleep I guess.
“It feels so good to get into victory lane. I gotta thank the fans, everyone that stuck it out through the rain yesterday and came out today to watch a great race and a wild ending. You don't want to see cautions there at the end when you are the leader but as a fan that is like the one thing you do want to see. I am glad we got the best of both worlds.”