HAMPTON, Ga. -- For nearly a decade, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski were the two faces of Team Penske and competed against each other for wins in the NASCAR Cup Series. Once some of the top teammates in the sport, those two raced each other for another victory – and another trophy is headed back to Penske.
After the two dueled for the lead throughout the final laps at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Joey Logano was able to win the Ambetter Health 400 with two major shoves to get to and then past Keselowski on the last lap. Logano received a big push from Corey LaJoie entering turn one on the final lap that got him to Keselowski's bumper, and then swung to the outside of Keselowski to get alongside him by the exit of turn two.
Logano then received a massive push from Christopher Bell down the back stretch, propelling him out front to his first win of the 2023 season and the first win of his career at Atlanta.
Ambetter Health 400 unofficial results
- #22 - Joey Logano
- #6 - Brad Keselowski
- #20 - Christopher Bell
- #7 - Corey LaJoie
- #45 - Tyler Reddick
- #11 - Denny Hamlin
- #12 - Ryan Blaney
- #43 - Erik Jones
- #54 - Ty Gibbs (R)
- #8 - Kyle Busch
For Logano, Atlanta marked a triumph a long time in the making: As a boy, Logano and his family moved to Atlanta for him to pursue his racing career, and Logano made many memories competing in Legends cars at the speedway on his way to NASCAR. Logano's father, Tom, ran across the infield to embrace his son in post-race in celebration of another father-son moment at a special track for the family.
"It's so special to win Atlanta for me," Logano told Fox Sports. "So many memories of me and my Dad racing right here on the quarter-mile. This is the full circle for us. So many memories gritting over there with the Legends car and racing and having a big time and dreaming of going straight at the quarter-mile and going onto the big track.
"That was always the dream to do it. And to finally win here means so much to me personally."
As he described it, Logano's car was an "animal" that was easily the class of the field, starting from the pole and leading 140 of 260 laps to give Ford its first win of the season. But when Logano fell to mid-pack in mid-race, it took much more than a fast car for Logano to lead the most important lap.
Brad is back
After becoming co-owner of RFK Racing in addition to its new driver, Brad Keselowski spent most of 2022 toiling to try and lead his team out of the doldrums it had languished in during the past decade. The team's flagship No. 6 car, which was once one of NASCAR's dominant cars with Mark Martin in the 1990s, hasn't won a race since David Ragan drove to Victory Lane at Daytona in 2011 -- a dry spell that has continued in the nearly two-year winless streak Keselowski has going.
But Keselowski has now led laps in every race so far this season, and it looked as though Sunday might be his day to get RFK Racing's No. 6 back to Victory Lane. Keselowski traded the lead with Logano throughout the last run of the race, and it looked at the white flag that the race was Keselowski's to lose until Logano got the drafting help and surge he needed.
"The bottom came with a huge run. I don't know how. I thought I had it blocked," Keselowski told Fox Sports. "Joey just kept shaking. His car didn't stall out. I couldn't get the push down the back. I thought just get a push down the back. The 20 car just hauled down there. ... We were right there. Proud of my team and the effort. Nothing much we could do there at the end.
"Night and day from where we were a year ago. 100%. Keep running like this, the good finishes and the wins will happen."
Compared to yesterday's caution-fests in the Truck Series and Xfinity Series, the first two stages of Sunday's Cup race were very tame with a lot of single-file racing until things picked up in stage three. But one major wreck ended up tearing up a number of cars, and the idea of what caused it will likely depend on what one thinks of Ross Chastain's driving style.
On lap 190, Kevin Harvick was leading with a push from Ross Chastain when Chastain got up on Harvick's bumper in turn two, spinning Harvick in front of the field and triggering a 12-car crash on the back stretch.
Chastain has been criticized for aggressive driving -- including at Atlanta -- and the first impulse of some was to suggest that Chastain got into Harvick's bumper and turned him. The two were in some shadows on the track when they got close and while it didn't look as though Chastain ever made contact with Harvick's bumper, the No. 4 did get loose and out of shape.
You be the judge:
For what it's worth, Harvick himself told Fox Sports that he didn't think Chastain hit him, saying Chastain got him loose instead.
"Just trying to help push him. We had made a lot of ground up," Chastain told Bob Pockrass of Fox Sports. "I don't think I hit him either."
The incident would end up giving Chastain the lead for the next five laps, but he would end up not being a factor in the finish. Chastain was shuffled out of line and was unable to crack the top 10 by race's end, finishing 13th.
Race results rundown
- The next generation Atlanta has become far and away Corey LaJoie's best racetrack. After scoring his first-ever top five here and contending for a win a year ago, LaJoie made his way to the front late in the race and finished fourth, his second top five in three races at the new Atlanta and his best-ever finish in Cup. Ty Gibbs in ninth also scored his career-best finish.
- Sunday marked a gutsy performance for Tyler Reddick, who felt ill during the morning to the point that the team summoned John Hunter Nemechek as a relief driver if Reddick was unable to finish the race. But a fast car proved to be good medicine for Reddick, who spent the final laps pushing Brad Keselowski before getting his second top five in a row, in fifth.
- An extended pit road proved problematic for Ryan Blaney during a mid-race round of green flag pit stops, as a speeding penalty took Blaney from running at the front with his Penske teammates to a lap down by the end of stage two. But Blaney was eventually able to get his lap back via the free pass, and he would work his way back into the fight for the win and finish seventh.
- While Joey Logano surged to the lead on the final lap, Erik Jones had arguably an even wilder final lap, splitting the middle to pass nine cars on the last lap to finish eighth. It's Jones' first top 10 of the season and his first top 10 since Las Vegas last fall.
- After a rough West Coast swing, Noah Gragson enjoyed the strongest run of his rookie year to date. Despite getting into the wall in turns three and four, Gragson wheeled his No. 42 Legacy Motor Club Chevrolet to a 12th place finish, his best of the season and his best finish since he ran 11th at Las Vegas last fall.
- After being displaced from his usual car last week, Todd Gilliland returned to the seat of his No. 38 Ford and enjoyed his best run of the season so far. Gilliland ran in the top 10 late in the race and finished 15th, giving him his first top 15 of the year and his second finish of 17th or better in five races so far.
- A 23rd place finish for Ty DIllon doesn't look like much, but his performance on Sunday was one that was sorely needed. Not only did it mark his first lead lap finish since the Charlotte Roval last fall, but it was also his first finish better than 30th all season. It's something to build on for Dillon as he and his team try to get Spire's No. 77 to the same level as the No. 7 out of the same shop.
The NASCAR Cup Series is off to enjoy a big slice of Americana with some international flair, as some of the top drivers in all of auto racing will join the field for the EchoPark Texas Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas next Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET on Fox.