NASCAR: Joey Logano finally wins at Nashville after a rain delay and five overtime restarts

LEBANON, TENNESSEE - JUNE 30: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway on June 30, 2024 in Lebanon, Tennessee. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Joey Logano celebrates after getting his first NASCAR Cup Series win of 2024. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Joey Logano brought the NASCAR Cup Series race at Nashville to a merciful end on Sunday.

Logano won the race after stretching his fuel as long as he could through a Cup Series record five overtimes. The 400-mile race went 331 laps at the 1.33-mile track thanks to a track record 16 cautions.

Logano was in first on the final restart and held off a hard charging Tyler Reddick for the win.

Logano, the two-time Cup Series champion, somehow made it 110 laps on his final tank of fuel thanks to the numerous cautions that plagued the final stage of the race. Reddick passed multiple cars on the penultimate lap but couldn’t get past Logano on the final lap as the race finally ended as Zane Smith snuck past for second.

The win is the first of the season for Logano and likely locks him into the playoffs. Logano entered the race 14th in points with just two top-five finishes and five top 10s. Now, he’s in the playoffs along with his Team Penske teammates Ryan Blaney and Austin Cindric after their wins earlier this season.

In addition to the five overtime restarts, the race also featured a rain delay due to thunderstorms. It started before 3 p.m. local time in Nashville and didn’t end until nearly 8:15 CT.

Sunday’s race was the perfect example of why NASCAR should not have unlimited green-white-checker restarts at the end of races. It’s OK to end a race at its advertised distance like IndyCar does.

The chaos of the final laps was started by Austin Cindric when he spun on Lap 298. That necessitated the first overtime restart with Denny Hamlin leading Ross Chastain.

Hamlin passed Chastain with seven laps to go in regulation despite having a much faster car for the final 20 laps. Chastain expertly used his car to defend against Hamlin and made it as hard as possible for Hamlin to get around.

Hamlin had enough fuel for one or two green-white-checker restarts. He did not have enough fuel for five.

The first restart ended as soon as it began when Kyle Larson tried to push Hamlin into the first corner and slid up into Chastain. The move ended Chastain’s day and brought on another restart.

The second restart happened thanks to a six-car crash on the backstretch of what was supposed to be the second-to-last lap. But the chaos only was getting started from there.

Hamlin stayed out along with the other leaders in the hopes that the race would finally end after a third GWC attempt. That group of leaders included Kyle Busch in fourth who kept his position after Chastain’s crash. Busch hit the wall as he tried to slow to avoid Chastain. Yet NASCAR inexplicably gave him his position back on the track.

That ultimately didn’t matter. Larson’s car sputtered as it ran out of fuel on the third restart and Busch ended up in the wall as the green flag flew.

Guess what? That led to a fourth restart. At that point, Hamlin and others had to pit for fuel for fear of running out of gas, and Logano took over the lead.

The fourth restart wasn’t the final one thanks to Josh Berry’s crash out of Turn 4 before the leaders got the white flag.

It’s hard to blame the teams for pushing the limits on fuel and the drivers for racing aggressively on the late restarts; it’s what they’re trained to do within the limits of NASCAR’s points and overtime system. But Sunday also showed why it may not be a bad idea for races to end at their scheduled distance. Not every finish has to be great. Sunday’s wasn’t. And it took five attempts at a lot of crashed cars to get to it.

Christopher Bell had the best car and won the first two stages before the chaos began. But he finished 36th after he crashed out in the third stage.

Bell was back in the pack thanks to some pit strategy and he hit the wall after his car snapped loose on him in the middle of Turns 1 and 2. Before crashing on Lap 227, Bell had led 131 laps and was the clear driver to beat.

Since Hamlin didn’t win, Bell, Hamlin, Larson and William Byron are tied for the Cup Series lead with three wins each with seven races to go before the playoffs.

Race results

1. Joey Logano

2. Zane Smith

3. Tyler Reddick

4. Ryan Preece

5. Chris Buescher

6. Ryan Blaney

7. Bubba Wallace

8. Kyle Larson

9. Daniel Henric

10. Noah Gragson

11. AJ Allmendinger

12. Denny Hamlin

13. Justin Haley

14. Alex Bowman

15. Austin Cindric

16. Carson Hocevar

17. Todd Gilliland

18. Chase Elliott

19. William Byron

20. Corey LaJoie

21. Chase Briscoe

22. Daniel Suarez

23. Ty Gibbs

24. Martin Truex Jr.

25. Brad Keselowski

26. Josh Berry

27. Kyle Busch

28. Harrison Burton

29. Corey Heim

30. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

31. John Hunter Nemechek

32. Austin Dillon

33. Ross Chastain

34. Erik Jones

35. Michael MicDowell

36. Christopher Bell

37. Riley Herbst

38. Chad Finchum

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