NASCAR at Talladega results, standings: Joey Logano wins first race of the season

Joey Logano took home the checkered flag at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday after holding off Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and the rest of the field. The win is Logano's third at the track and 19th of his career.

Barring inspection, Logano will be headed to the playoffs for the first time since 2016, when he finished as the runner-up to seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson. Logano won last season at Richmond but missed the playoffs after being penalized and seeing his win become encumbered. Those who have already secured their spot include Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr. and Austin Dillon.

Brad Keselowski won Stage 1 over teammate Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Paul Menard. Keselowski, the Fords and Toyotas pitted early in the stage and ran most of it in the back of the pack before the Chevrolets pit later on. Keselowski has five career wins at the track, including one last October in the playoffs.

A big wreck knocked Kyle Larson, Erik Jones and Truex out in Stage 2, as Paul Menard went on to take the green-and-white checkered flag. Menard held off Logano and Blaney after passing Denny Hamlin to earn his first stage victory. 

Neither stage winner would have a chance to win the race however, as both Keselowski and Menard were caught up in "The Big One" with 22 laps to go. Jimmie Johnson instigated it after getting loose and making contact with teammate William Byron. In addition to those four, Ryan Blaney, Michael McDowell, Austin Dillon and Clint Bowyer were involved as well. 

GEICO 500 results

  1. Joey Logano
  2. Kurt Busch
  3. Chase Elliott
  4. Kevin Harvick
  5. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  6. David Ragan
  7. Aric Almirola
  8. Alex Bowman
  9. Ryan Newman
  10. Daniel Suarez
  11. Chris Buescher
  12. Jimmie Johnson
  13. Kyle Busch
  14. Denny Hamlin
  15. Ty Dillon
  16. Darrell Wallace Jr.
  17. Kasey Kahne
  18. Ryan Blaney
  19. Matt DiBenedetto
  20. DJ Kennington
  21. Cole Whitt
  22. Brendan Gaughan
  23. Timothy Peters
  24. Gray Gaulding
  25. Ross Chastain
  26. Martin Truex Jr.
  27. Joey Gase
  28. Jamie McMurray
  29. William Byron
  30. Paul Menard
  31. Clint Bowyer
  32. Michael McDowell
  33. Brad Keselowski
  34. AJ Allmendinger
  35. Austin Dillon
  36. Timmy Hill
  37. Reed Sorenson
  38. Trevor Bayne
  39. Erik Jones
  40. Kyle Larson

Unofficial Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings

POSITIONDRIVERCAR #POINTSBEHINDWINS

1.

Kyle Busch

18

447

LEADER

3

2.

Joey Logano

22

417

-30

1

3.

Kevin Harvick

4

366

-81

3

4.

Clint Bowyer

14

335

-112

1

5.

Kurt Busch

41

320

-127

0

6.

Brad Keselowski

2

317

-130

0

7.

Denny Hamlin

11

314

-133

0

8.

Ryan Blaney

12

313

-134

0

9.

Martin Truex Jr.

78

303

-144

1

10.

Kyle Larson

42

280

-167

0

11.

Aric Almirola

10

278

-169

0

12.

Alex Bowman

88

328

-209

0

13.

Erik Jones

20

234

-213

0

14.

Jimmie Johnson

48

230

-217

0

15.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

17

217

-230

0

16.

Ryan Newman

31

214

-233

0

17.Austin Dillon3210-2371

Stage 1: Manufacturer strategy plays key role

Kevin Harvick led the first lap as Ricky Stenhouse Jr. tried to play it aggressive and take the high line. Unfortunately for Stenhouse no one went with him, he lost the draft and fell from fourth to 23rd just like that.

Drivers came in for a fuel run 15 laps into the race with hopes they could make it to the end of the stage under green. Kurt Busch was penalized for speeding, which is significant at a track like Talladega since the speeds are so high. When a driver is forced to come back down pit road to serve a penalty, they're losing more time on the track than they usually would at a smaller track.

While most of the Fords and Toyotas came down pit road, the Chevrolets stayed out with Alex Bowman leading the way in front William Byron, Darrell Wallace Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott. The hometown kid, Wallace, took the lead from Bowman with 16 to go.

Ford and Toyota won that first strategy battle, as the Chevrolets had to pit with 11 laps to go in Stage 1. Once Wallace led them down pit road, Brad Keselowski assumed the race lead and drove on to win the stage. 

Stage 1 results:

  1. Brad Keselowski (10 points plus 1 playoff point)
  2. Joey Logano (9 points)
  3. Martin Truex Jr. (8 points)
  4. Kyle Busch (7 points)
  5. Paul Menard (6 points)
  6. Denny Hamlin (5 points)
  7. Ryan Blaney (4 points)
  8. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (3 points)
  9. Kevin Harvick (2 points)
  10. Jimmie Johnson (1 point)

Stage 2: Wreck shakes things up for contenders

William Byron took the lead from Keselowski to open up Stage 2 and decided to work with Jamie McMurray on the high line in order to defend it. That didn't prove to be the right call as Brad Keselowski went low and regained the lead with a push from teammate Joey Logano.

Green flag pit stops began 13 laps into the stage and they proved to be costly for three contenders. Keselowski, Stenhouse and Daniel Suarez got hit for speeding on entry and had to serve a pass-through penalty. Alex Bowman was also penalized for being too fast exiting pit road.

The stage continued to roll along until Erik Jones got loose, ran up into Jamie McMurray's No. 1 and instigated a massive wreck on the backstretch involving Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, Trevor Bayne and others. Bayne, Jones and Larson took on enough damage that they had to retire from the race.

"I'd been loose all day and I was thinking that I had finally gotten the car to where I could race it and unfortunately I just pushed too hard early and just caused a wreck," Jones said after crashing out. "It's not what you want, we probably should have been more patient."

Truex had so much damage that his team resorted to a highway concrete cutter in order to repair it. No we're not kidding. Look.

Joey Logano resurfaced as the race leader ahead of Paul Menard and Kurt Busch. With less than 20 to go, Denny Hamlin shot out to the lead with help from Menard. Out of nowhere with six to go, Menard went high and made a run himself to take the lead. Menard held off his alliance teammates Logano and Blaney to win his first career stage.

Stage 2 results:

  1. Paul Menard (10 points plus 1 playoff point) 
  2. Joey Logano (9 points)
  3. Ryan Blaney (8 points)
  4. Kevin Harvick (7 points)
  5. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (6 points)
  6. David Ragan (5 points)
  7. Jimmie Johnson (4 points)
  8. Kurt Busch (3 points)
  9. William Byron (2 points)
  10. Kyle Busch (1 point)

Final Stage: THE BIG ONE strikes

Kyle Busch was penalized for speeding on pit road between stages as William Byron led the field back to green. Kurt Busch took the lead with less than 70 laps to go in the race after getting a push on the high line. The caution flag flew for debris just a few laps later, giving drivers the opportunity to hit pit road. Elliott was penalized for a tire violation and had to serve a pass-through penalty.

Denny Hamlin led the field back to green ahead of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. who took fuel only under yellow. Stenhouse shuffled the lead with Hamlin and Logano before the No. 22 could hold it. Logano led the field down pit road with 43 to go under green. Only seven cars on the lead lap did not pit. Hamlin and Stenhouse were penalized for speeding and had to serve pass-throughs. Unfortunately for Hamlin he sped again while serving his penalty and had to come down pit road once again.

Timmy Hill saw his car go up in smoke with less than 35 to go and brought out the caution before heading to the garage. It gave the leaders an opportunity to pit, however they chose to stay out after coming in just a few laps before. 

Logano took the lead on the restart with 30 to go, and peacefully led until "The Big One" struck with 22 to go. It appeared that Jimmie Johnson got loose, made contact with William Byron and set off a chain reaction that collected Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Michael McDowell, Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer.

Logano restarted as the race leader with Harvick and Kurt Busch in his rearview. Elliott made his move for the lead with 12 to go, taking a new lane with help from Ryan Newman but couldn't get it going and had to get back in line. No one was able to catch the No. 22 as Logano drove on to win at Talladega.

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