MADISON, Ill. — Joey Logano watched helplessly as Kyle Busch drove away from him on a late restart Sunday, seemingly ending his hopes of delivering a much-needed win for Team Penske in the NASCAR Cup Series debut at World Wide Technology Raceway.
Kevin Harvick’s wreck with five laps left gave Logano another chance.
He took advantage of overtime, too, winning a drag race with Busch into the first corner in overtime, then jockeying briefly for the lead, before pulling away to take the white flag and eventually Logano’s second win of the season.
“It doesn’t get much better than that, racing for the lead like that with Kyle, one of the best, crossing each other back and forth,” Logano said. “I knew it was coming. I did it to him. I knew he was going to do it to me.”
The victory must have felt even sweeter for Team Penske given its recent struggles. In the last five points races, Logano has the only top-10 finish for the entire team with his victory last month at Darlington.
Kurt Busch finished third Sunday with Logano’s teammate, Ryan Blaney, in fourth and Aric Almirola in fifth.
“I’m way out of breath here,” Logano said. “What a great car. Really fast.”
Ross Chastain was fast all day, too; he just couldn’t stop hitting people. He got into Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott at different points in the race, leading both of them to retaliate on the track.
“It was terrible driving,” Chastain said afterward. “It’s one thing to do it once. I kept driving into guys. At this level I have to be better than that. It’s a shame. I had all these people believing in me. They deserve better.”
By the end, Logano had watched Kyle Busch drive away on a restart with 13 laps remaining, only to get a reprieve when Harvick crashed with five to go. That led to a green-white-checkered finish at the 1¼-mile hairpin east of St. Louis, where Busch chose the outside lane as Logano drove his No. 22 car to the inside once again.
This time it was Logano that won the race to Turn 1 and moved in front of Busch, who crossed him over and took the lead into the sweeping third and fourth turns. That’s where Logano went low and pulled ahead, gaining the space he needed to pull away when Busch got a little sideways coming out of Turn 4.
“We stayed in the running all day and fought hard,” Logano said, “and thought maybe we could, and that was it.”
The first Cup Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway, nestled just across the Mississippi River from the Gateway Arch and downtown St. Louis, produced a thrilling throwback to the early years of NASCAR, when tempers in the cars ran just as hot as the temperature outside — it soared over 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the sun.
The Cup Series heads to the road course at Sonoma in California’s wine country next Sunday before taking a week off.