Talladega, Ala. — Joey Logano had a clear race track in his windshield and a pack of fellow Ford drivers on his bumper. That combination helped the Team Penske driver snap a nearly yearlong losing streak.
Logano won Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway to snap a streak that dated to April 30 of last year. That win at Richmond was later disqualified because his car failed inspection, so the benefits from the victory were stripped and it cost him a spot in the playoffs.
Out front at Talladega, which is usually the worst place to be in the closing laps, Logano couldn’t be caught. His Ford teammates were committed to getting a Ford the win, and they waited patiently in line until the closing laps to make their attempt at snatching the victory away from Logano.
Only Kurt Busch was bold enough to make an early move, and he wrongly thought defending race winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. would go with him. Stenhouse didn’t get to Busch in time, Kevin Harvick wasn’t prepared for Busch to go so early, and Busch couldn’t garner enough steam to catch Logano.
Logano sailed to an easy victory at a track where he should have been forced to defend several attempts at a pass on the final lap.
“I really thought (Busch and Harvick) were the cars, no matter where they went, if they got to the outside of me, I was hosed. I knew that. That would have been the end of it for me,” Logano said. “I would have gotten passed by pretty much the whole train. I would have lost so much momentum. I knew they were going to work together, as they should. Once they got picked apart, think that was the game changer.”
It was Logano’s third career win at Talladega.
Busch finished second, his career best finish at Talladega, as Ford drivers went 1-2.
Chase Elliott was third in a Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, while Kevin Harvick was fourth in a Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was fifth, David Ragan sixth and Aric Almirola seventh as Ford drivers took six of the seven spots.
Elliott said the Fords had too strong and steady of a strategy for him to have any chance at making a move to catch Logano.
“I thought for sure one of them wanted to win more than they showed,” Elliott said. “If it was me, I would have wanted to do something or try. They were not interested in advancing. They were not going to help me move forward.”
Busch said his intention was to work with Stenhouse to help SHR get a victory from either Busch or Harvick.
“Two Stewart-Haas cars running second and third should have been able to pull this off,” Busch said. “I’m happy that a Ford won. It wasn’t the right one. Kevin was in good position. I was going to roll with him in any direction that I could. We just got broken up by Stenhouse.
“You wish you could go over and do it again. I feel like I left that one out on the table. “
Harvick felt Busch made his move too early.
“The Fords are so fast, we had five or six lined up there, and Kurt went a lap before I was ready,” Harvick said.
At Baku, Azerbaijan, Lewis Hamilton won an incident-packed Azerbaijan Grand Prix to take over the championship lead.
Sebastian Vettel led for much of the race, but was stuck in second behind Hamilton’s Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas when a crash between the two Red Bulls brought out the safety car.
On the restart, Vettel lunged for the lead but could not keep his car on the racing line at the exit of the next corner and instead lost places. Soon afterward, Bottas’ right-rear tire picked up a puncture, ending his race and elevating Hamilton to first.
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen claimed second place after having dropped to 14th following an early collision. That’s still being investigated by stewards and sanctions could follow.
Sergio Perez held off Vettel for third to claim Force India’s first podium since 2016.
At Concord, N.C., Steve Torrence won the Top Fuel final in the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals for his series-best third victory of the season.
Torrence had a 3.813-second pass at 326.56 mph at zMAX Dragway to beat Doug Kalitta, Terry McMillen and Clay Millican in the final round. Torrence has 19 career victories.
“Getting the win today is pretty unbelievable, but my team did such a great job with this track and we know that every win is special,” Torrence said. “This is a much-needed win because I know some of these competitors are starting to figure it out, so we are going to take as many of these Mello Yello points as we can get in the early-going and try to build a lead in the standings.”
Cruz Pedregon won in Funny Car, Erica Enders in Pro Stock, and Jerry Savoie in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Pedregon ran a 4.059 at 310.84 for his 36th career victory and first since Englishtown in 2014. He topped 16-time Funny Car champion John Force, Tommy Johnson Jr. and No. 1 qualifier Courtney Force in the final round for his second career win in Charlotte.
Enders raced to her 23rd career victory and second in Charlotte with a 6.535 at 212.73. She edged Vincent Nobile, Chris McGaha and Drew Skillman in the final round.
Jerry Savoie raced to his ninth career victory, running a 6.784 at 195.73 to top Andrew Hines, Scotty Pollacheck and Matt Smith.