NASCAR at Atlanta results: Joey Logano pulls last lap pass on Brad Keselowski to get his first Atlanta win

Joey Logano Getty NASCAR Cup Series Atlanta
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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

  1. #22 - Joey Logano
  2. #6 - Brad Keselowski
  3. #20 - Christopher Bell
  4. #7 - Corey LaJoie
  5. #45 - Tyler Reddick
  6. #11 - Denny Hamlin
  7. #12 - Ryan Blaney
  8. #43 - Erik Jones
  9. #54 - Ty Gibbs (R)
  10. #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."

Rosschach test

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.

Next Race

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.

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Joey Logano gets a huge shove from Corey LaJoie! He looks inside, then looks outside on Keselowski and Keselowski can't block it! Logano gets the lead by midway down the backstretch and he keeps it the rest of the way! Logano wins at Atlanta!

1 - #22 - Joey Logano
2 - #6 - Brad Keselowski
3 - #20 - Christopher Bell
4 - #7 - Corey LaJoie
5 - #45 - Tyler Reddick
6 - #11 - Denny Hamlin
7 - #12 - Ryan Blaney
8 - #43 - Erik Jones
9 - #54 - Ty Gibbs (R)
10 - #8 - Kyle Busch

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Here comes Bell to the inside! White flag this time!

 
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The problem for Keselowski is that there's three Toyotas lined up right behind him. Reddick, Bell, Hamlin. Coming to two to go.

 
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Reddick took a look on Keselowski entering Turn 1. Keselowski blocks. Three to go this time.

 
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Logano and the inside line are starting to fall back. Keselowski, Reddick, and Bell clear of them coming to four to go.

 
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Keselowski just used a side draft on Logano and it gets him clear to the lead. Coming to five to go this time.

 
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Lapped cars both got out of the way. Seven laps to go.

 
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Leaders coming up on some lapped cars. Still side-by-side all the way around.

 
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Still a stalemate at the front. 10 laps to go and Keselowski leads -- barely -- at the start/finish line.

 
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13 laps to go now. Keselowski still trying to work both lanes but now Logano is to his inside. Side-by-side for the race lead once again!

 
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Keselowski throws a big block on Logano in the inside line. The cost of that is that now the outside line is going to have a big run on him. But he's able to cover it before it becomes a problem.

 
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Ty Gibbs caught a piece of the wall on the exit of Turn 2 but keeps going. That happened as the field was driving away form the sun, but there's a lot of glare now as they go down the frontstretch entering Turn 1.

 
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20 laps to go this time by. It's still Brad Keselowski out front and still trying to hold off Logano and Reddick.

 
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Logano is now charging back to towards the front. This was the pass for the lead earlier:

 
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Keselowski has prevailed and Logano and the inside line are falling back. The outside line is Keselowski, Reddick, Bell, Hamlin and LaJoie.

 
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The leaders put another lap on Ryan Preece after Preece gives them room. He's now 14 laps down with electrical issues and just trying to make it to the end.

Keselowski and Logano now side-by-side for the lead again.

 
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Brad Keselowski lost his teammate Chris Buescher in that big crash earlier and is outnumbered by Penske cars. But the good news is he has a willing pusher in Tyler Reddick, who's trying to give him a shove back up to Logano.

 
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Here comes Logano for the lead with help from Blaney! Logano back to the front with 33 laps to go!

 
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Inside line is starting to break away. Tyler Reddick has been stacking the outside line up a bit and Christopher Bell is trying to compensate by pushing him directly.

Now here comes Blaney to the front of the outside lane!

 
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After some three-wide racing, look who's back at the front: Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, and Austin Cindric all nose to tail in the lead pack.

Remember: Keselowski spent a dozen years driving for Penske and won the organization's first-ever championship in NASCAR.

 
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Brad Keselowski now has two lanes to cover. Bowman on the outside, Reddick on the inside. It's been 66 races since Keselowski last visited Victory Lane, which was nearly two full years ago at Talladega.

It's also been a full dozen years since RFK Racing's No. 6 has won a race. Its last victory came on a drafting track in 2011, with Unadilla, Ga.'s own David Ragan winning at Daytona.

 
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Race leader Brad Keselowski chooses the inside line while Alex Bowman is now the first car in the outside line. Green flag will come with 44 laps to go and still a lot of racing to be done.

 
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Here's a replay of what happened to Aric Almirola, whose tires had over 70 laps on them. Once they went they went in a big hurry.

 
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Ross Chastain has come to pit road for four tires and fuel. Martin Truex Jr. and Ty DIllon also on pit road.

Chase Briscoe got the free pass and is now only one lap down.

 
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Aric Almirola blew a right rear tire in front of the entire field. Kyle Larson's car is destroyed and Justin Haley got a big piece of it as well. Daniel Suarez and Tyler Reddick were also involved.

 
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Almirola still leads as he tries to hold off advances from Larson and Keselowski.

If you need a refresher: Almirola was supposed to retire at the end of the 2022 season, but he was convinced to go back on those plans and return to Stewart-Haas Racing for 2023. Almirola hasn't won since New Hampshire in July of 2021.

AND NOW HE CRASHES! SO DOES KYLE LARSON!

 
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Chastain now gets shucked out of line and put in the middle. He's now trapped the Sucker Hole and going backwards.

 
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Chastain is moving forward and it's forced Aric Almirola to try and cover the inside. Now trying to cover both lanes.

 
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Much better restart for Aric Almirola that time and he leads at the start/finish line. Then it's Larson and Keselowski with Ross Chastain trying to move the inside line forward.

 
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Green flag is out again with 61 laps to go. Almirola restarts on the outside with Keselowski on the inside.

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