Joey Logano is no stranger to winning at Watkins Glen International. But Sunday presented a new challenge to the Penske Racing driver as rain fell after the end of stage one. However, Logano was able to withstand the weather and a late race charge from teammate Brad Keselowski to take the win at Watkins Glen Saturday.
Logano, who started from the pole for the fourth straight time at Watkins Glen, led the entire first stage of the race before the rain fell. When the racing went back to green and the rain had soaked the track, the No. 23 ISM Connect/AfterShokz Chevrolet of A.J. Allmendinger would take the green as the leader. Allmendinger, one of the more accomplished road racers in NASCAR, pulled away from the field while the track continued to dry out.
On lap 52, and after the field was shuffled by alternative strategies, Allmendinger pitted his Chevrolet. The fuel only stop resulted in a penalty as Allmendinger slide through his pit stall and had to back up. This mistake would drop him down the order.
A dramatic restart on lap 75 involving Logano, Keselowski and Ryan Preece would see Logano come out on top. The three drivers went three wide into turn one and contact was made between the Penske teammates with Logano taking the lead and Keselowski running second close behind. With two to go, Keselowski’s charge to the front would end as he would spin the car dropping him down the order.
“That was all I had,” said Logano. “He was definitely faster. I thought the tires would have been enough to be faster than him. I had a good restart and got in front of him, and he dogged me. These Xfinity cars draft quite a bit down these straightaways, and it’s hard to pull away. It felt good to race each other really hard, so it’s cool to see Penske cars doing that.”
A.J. Allmendinger would rally back from his penalty to finish in second passing third place runner Justin Allgaier on the final corner of the last lap to secure second. Ryan Preece would finish in fourth with Aric Almirola coming in fifth.
Christopher Bell’s quests for his fourth straight series win would end Saturday with a ninth place finish as his first trip to Watkins Glen. He leaves the Glen with the series points lead while Cole Custer sits second 22 points back.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series heads to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course next weekend for the Rock n’ Roll Tequila 170. Coverage begins at 3 p.m. on NBCSN next Sunday.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Associated Press
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