CP MOTORSPORTS: LOGANO DOMINATES THE DESERT FOR XFINITY WIN
Joey Logano had been winless on NASCAR's xfinity series since the 2013 season. No longer.
Logano led 176 of the 200 laps at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday to win his 22nd career XFINITY Series race as well as end the drought.
"It was an awesome car," Logano said. "This was one of those days where if you don't win then you're going to be frustrated because you had the winning car all day. We were able to execute and get the 'W'."
Logano had finished second in the last four races which he ran in the #22 Discount Tire Ford for Team Penske. He had just one XFINITY win in his career for Team Penske since coming over from Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013.
"We have been finishing second the last four races before this one and we were so close to winning them," Logano admitted in the post race press conference. "Obviously we have a lot of poles and things are going well but we always just needed a little bit more speed. It was awesome to get it today and get Discount Tire in victory lane."
Logano bounced back from those runner up finishes by earning the pole for the Axalta Faster, Tougher, Brighter 200. He also achieved a perfect driver rating, which is an average released by NASCAR based on various statistics recorded during the race.
The last time Logano achieved a perfect driver rating was his last XFINITY win in 2013 at Dover.
Matt Kenseth finished second and Kevin Harvick, who battled a tight car all day, finished third. Austin Dillon finished fourth followed by rookie Erik Jones, who drove the #54 Monster Energy Toyota for the injured Kyle Busch.
Matt Kenseth along with Austin Dillon and rookie Brennan Poole were the only drivers other than Logano to lead laps during the Axalta 200. Kenseth, driver of the #20 Reeser's Toyota, felt like he could have caught Logano had it not been for the heavy lapped traffic the leaders encountered to end the Axalta 200.
'I thought we had a car that could have won," Kenseth admitted. "With about 30 (laps) to go, we decided it was time to try to get rolling and get a run at him and just with all the lapped cars and the way these cars are, just got in dirty air and started getting my car tight and I couldn't get any closer to him."
Defending XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott salvaged a seventh finish despite being the reason for the caution flag on lap 139. Elliott spun out but avoided any major damage after he and series regular Ty Dillon appeared to share a bit of contact. While Elliott absorbed blame over team radio, he was not too pleased with Dillon's driving.
"Tell Ty he can be pissed if he wants," Elliott said over team radio. "But when you pinch somebody down that much you should just expect the contact."
Rookie Erik Jones was able to finish higher than any other XFINITY Series regular with his fifth place finish Saturday.
"It's nice to finally get the finishes that I thought we deserved," Jones said. "We struggled with getting caught up in other people's messes early on and just nice to run up front and get that finish that I thought we deserved."
Ty Dillon, driver of the iconic #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, finished in the sixth spot behind Jones. Brendan Gaughan, Dillon's Richard Childress Racing teammate, finished eighth. Regan Smith finished ninth and fellow RCR teammate Brian Scott rounded out the top ten finishing in the tenth position.
With three races completed in the 2015 NASCAR xfinity series, Dillon sits atop the point standings. He leads Chris Buescher by 14 points. Buescher's Roush Fenway Racing teammate and Daytona XFINITY winner Ryan Reed sits third in the standings trailing by 22 points.