Joey Logano beats Kyle Busch in overtime at Gateway

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Chase Briscoe (14) and Austin Cindric (2) enter Turn 2 during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at World Wide Technology Raceway, Sunday, June 5, 2022, in Madison, Ill. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

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Joey Logano watched helplessly as Kyle Busch slipped away from him in a late restart on Sunday, seemingly ending his hopes of a much-deserved victory for Team Penske in the NASCAR Cup Series debut at World Wide Technology Raceway.

Kevin Harvick’s wreck with five laps to go gave Logano another chance.

He also took advantage of overtime, winning a drag race with Busch in the first corner in overtime, then briefly jockeying for the lead, before pulling away to take the white flag and ultimately Logano’s second win of the season.

“It doesn’t get much better than this, running for the lead like this with Kyle, one of the best, crossing back and forth,” said Logano, who made it a highlight day for Team Penske. , who won the IndyCar. race with Will Power earlier today in Detroit. “I knew it was going to happen. I did it to him. I knew he was going to do it to me.

Victory must have been even sweeter for Team Penske given their recent battles. In the last five points races, Logano has the only top 10 for the entire team with his win last month at Darlington.

Kurt Busch finished second on Sunday with Logano’s teammate Ryan Blaney fourth and Aric Almirola fifth.

“I’m out of breath here,” Logano said. “What a nice car. Very fast.”

Ross Chastain was also quick all day; he just couldn’t stop hitting people. He got into Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott at different points in the race, leading them both to fight back on the track.

“It was terrible driving,” Chastain said afterwards. “It’s one thing to do it once. I kept driving into the guys. At this level, I have to be better than that. That’s a shame. I had all these people who believed in me. They deserve better.

By the end, Logano had seen Kyle Busch go off on the restart with 13 laps to go, only to get a reprieve when Harvick crashed out with five to go. This led to a green-white checkered finish at the hairpin 1 1/4 mile east of St. Louis, where Busch chose the outside lane as Logano again drove his #22 car on the inside.

This time it was Logano who won the race at Turn 1 and moved past Busch, who passed him and took the lead into the third and fourth turns. That’s where Logano came down and pulled ahead, gaining the space he needed to pull away when Busch lateralized slightly on the exit of Turn 4.

“We stayed in the race all day and fought hard,” Logano said, “and we thought maybe we could do it, and that was it.”

The first Cup Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway, nestled just across the Mississippi River from Gateway Arch and downtown St. Louis, produced an exciting throwback to NASCAR’s early years, when temperaments in the cars were as hot as the temperature outside – it soared to over 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the sun.

Chastain has a lot to do with it.

Trouble for the eighth-generation watermelon farmer began in Stage 2, when Chastain ran over Hamlin’s rear exiting the first and second tight turns and sent the No.11 into the outside wall.

“I owe half the pitch an apology and words aren’t going to fix it,” Chastain said. “I’ll have to pay it on the track.”

Indeed, Hamlin spent the rest of the afternoon trying to get revenge: he nearly drove Chastain onto the grass in the backstretch, then slowed to crawl around the track and nearly stopped him from driving. reach the minimum speed.

“It’s good that he takes responsibility, but it ended up ruining our day,” Hamlin said. “I think we ran hard there for a while on the inside. He tried to keep sliding past us and couldn’t because I wasn’t willing to step back and let him slide past It didn’t take long before he was hiding behind us that he destroyed us.

Hamlin found himself with some support when Chastain entered Elliott’s quarterback later in the scene, spinning him. And when the race resumed, Elliott nearly pushed Chastain against the wall before Hamlin landed another punch.

All the drama kept a sold-out crowd of more than 60,000 standing in the scorching afternoon sun. Chastain was seventh, Elliott was 21st and Hamlin finished 11 laps in 34th place.

“We all learned the hard way. We’ve all had it coming back to us,” Hamlin said, “and it won’t be any different.

FRONT TO BACK

AJ Allmendinger won the Xfinity race on Saturday in Portland, Oregon, then flew to St. Louis to start at the back of the pack on Sunday. Ben Rhodes was supposed to qualify his #15 for Kaulig Racing but crashed at Turn 3 in practice and didn’t test. Allmendinger raced through the pack to finish 10th.

ZANE-Y BEGINNINGS

Zane Smith, who finished ninth in the Truck Series race on Saturday, made his Cup Series debut in place of Chris Buescher, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week. Smith drove the No. 17 to a 17th-place finish for RFK Racing.

HIGHLIGHT

Martin Truex Jr. became the 32nd driver to make 600 Cup Series starts when he took the green flag. His first was in Atlanta on Oct. 31, 2004, for Dale Earnhardt Inc. The 2017 series champion finished sixth in Sunday’s race.

NEXT

The Cup Series will head to the Sonoma road course in California wine country next Sunday before taking a week off.

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Sandy A. Greer