Joey Logano earned his third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win of the season Saturday night, winning the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol for the second consecutive year. The Team Penske driver is currently on a hot streak, having also swept the Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series races at Watkins Glen two weeks ago and also earning a seventh place finish at Michigan last week.
Team Chevy’s Kevin Harvick attempted to challenge Logano for the lead during a long 63-lap green flag run that started following a restarted on Lap 438. Harvick seemed out of winning contention earlier in the night after being handed down two pit-road penalties, but rebounded to finish just .220 seconds behind Logano.
“He was just one step ahead of me in traffic,” Harvick told NASCAR.com post-race. “I couldn’t get my car to rotate across the center like I needed it to, and every time I tried to force it, it would snap the back out. He was able to go in really high and before the center of the corner drive down the corner and I was just having to wait just a split second to be able to put the throttle back down, and I couldn’t do that, that huge diamond all the way to the bottom like he could, and that was really beneficial for him through traffic.”
Logano also commented on how different his and Harvick’s cars were performing despite their similar pace.
“There’s not much time to look in the rearview mirror, but I realized how different his line was than mine,” Logano said. “He’d drive in so hard and almost get to my back bumper, and then I’d drive off really good.
“It’s kind of interesting to watch a race like that, when two cars are a similar speed, but in two completely different ways. That’s what’s so fun about Bristol is you can drive the car about five or six different ways and make it fast, so it’s fun to race here.”
Coming in behind Harvick was pole-sitter Denny Hamlin, with Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer rounding out the top five. NASCAR heads to Darlington next for the Bojangles Southern 500, which is to be run on Labor Day this year, the first time since 2002 the race will fall on the holiday.