BRISTOL, Tenn. — Joey Logano claimed his third win in the Sprint Cup Series this season by taking Saturday night’s Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Logano grabbed the lead from Matt Kenseth with 45 laps to go and then held off a hard-charging Brad Keselowski, his teammate at Team Penske, in the closing laps to win a Sprint Cup race at this 0.533-mile, high-banked oval for the first time. He beat Keselowski to the finish line by just 0.4 seconds.
The 24-year-old Logano joined Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Keselowski as those drivers with a series-leading three victories this season.
“I wasn’t sure when I woke up this morning if we had a winning car or not, but [crew chief] Todd Gordon is a good salesman, and he pretty much sold me on thinking I had a winning car,” said Logano, who led four times for a total of 76 laps. “The [No. 22] team made adjustments on it all night, and we got our third win of the year.
“What a year we’re having. It’s been so much fun. The past six or seven races have been unbelievable. We’ve been running up front.”
Logano earned his sixth career win in NASCAR’s premier series but considers this victory as perhaps his biggest one.
“This is like one the three biggest races of the year - the Bristol night race,” he said. “To have this in the record books with your name on it is really cool.”
A driver from Team Penske won all three NASCAR national touring series events at Bristol this week. Keselowski drove his No. 19 Ford to victory in Thursday’s rain-delayed Camping World Truck Series race here, and Ryan Blaney won Friday’s Nationwide Series event in Penske’s No. 22 car.
Team Penske had a 1-2 finish in the Sprint Cup race.
Kenseth, who won the night race at Bristol one year ago, finished third. He inherited the lead during a caution on lap 434 when he opted not to pit. Carl Edwards, the winner of the spring event here in March, did not pit as well.
“I just knew that clean air was going to be worth more than new tires,” Kenseth said. “Maybe we could have gotten tires and beaten those guys. We’ll never know. I just had such a hard time. I knew clean air would cover up a lot of problems.”
Kenseth remains winless this season after scoring a series-high seven victories in 2013.
Jimmie Johnson finished fourth after rebounding from two pit-road speeding penalties.
Kurt Busch placed fifth, followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Edwards.