Race Weekend Central

Stat Sheet: Joey Logano Ends a 10-Year Curse with Atlanta Win

Joey Logano scored his 32nd NASCAR Cup Series victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday (March 19). The win was his first at Atlanta and his 30th in Team Penske’s No. 22 car.

And despite being with Penske for more than 10 years, Logano did something on Sunday that he had never done before: win a race in a No. 22 car that wasn’t primarily sponsored by Shell or Pennzoil.

Logano has made 365 Cup starts with Penske, 50 (13.7%) of which weren’t adorned by his most recognizable cosponsors. If Logano’s wins were randomly distributed across all his starts, he would be projected to have four wins in alternate paint schemes; to not have a single one is unlucky.

That all changed on Sunday, as AutoTrader was the lucky sponsor on the hood of the No. 22 car. The last time Logano had won without his usual red or yellow was all the way back in June 2012 at Pocono Raceway with Home Depot.

See also
Thinkin' Out Loud at Atlanta: The Ford Empire Strikes Back

Atlanta by the Numbers

1965: The last time that Ford swept the top eight spots in qualifying.

  • Ford turned heads in the prerace, as the blue ovals blocked Chevrolet and Toyota out of the first four rows.
  • The manufacturer backed up its qualifying speed in the race, as Ford drivers combined to lead 221 of the 260 laps.
  • Is Ford back on track after a slow start to 2023?

7: The number of times that Logano has won the race after winning the pole in qualifying.

  • Only Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch (eight each) have more wins from the pole among active full-time drivers.
  • With 28 career Cup poles, Logano has a pole-win conversion rate of 25%.
  • All seven of Logano’s wins from the pole also saw him lead the most laps. That leads all active drivers, as Harvick and Busch both trail with six.

140: The number of laps that Logano led on Sunday.

  • It’s the third straight race this season where one driver led more than half the laps.
  • All three Cup races at the reconfiguration Atlanta have seen the driver that led the most laps take home the trophy.
  • The last time that a driver led exactly 140 laps in a Cup win was Bill Elliott‘s final win at Rockingham Speedway in November 2003.

0: The number of laps that Hendrick Motorsports led on Sunday.

  • Hendrick cars had combined to lead 506 of the 582 laps in the two prior races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix Raceway.
  • Hendrick swept the 2022 races at Atlanta with William Byron and Chase Elliott, but the team was largely out to lunch in the first 2023 edition. Alex Bowman was the highest finisher in 14th while the other three were involved in crashes.
  • Atlanta was the first race for Hendrick after the louver penalties handed down by NASCAR; the team’s performance at Circuit of the Americas will be a hot topic.

After going neck-and-neck with each other during the entire 44-lap green-flag run to the finish, Logano powered ahead of Brad Keselowski with a last-lap pass in turns 3 and 4.

  • The most recent Atlanta Cup race to feature a last-lap pass was in March 2005, when Carl Edwards defeated Jimmie Johnson in a photo finish.

Notable Performances

It looks to be a matter of when, not if, for Keselowski’s first win with RFK Racing.

  • Sunday’s runner-up finish was his best finish – and second top-five finish -since becoming co-owner of the team in 2022.
  • The last time that Keselowski was the leader entering the white flag lap was his win at Richmond Raceway in September 2020 (his win at Talladega Superspeedway in April 2021 was won via a last lap pass).
  • Keselowski has had an average running position (ARP) of sixth or better in three of the five races this season. The other two were an ARP of 11th at Las Vegas and an ARP of 17th at Auto Club Speedway; he went a lap down after a spin and came roaring back to finish seventh in that one.
  • He is currently fifth in regular season points through five races.

Corey LaJoie has a knack for the new Atlanta configuration.

  • Fourth is his career-best Cup Series finish, and his only other top five was a fifth at Atlanta in last year’s spring race.
  • While the finish didn’t show for it, LaJoie led 19 laps at Atlanta in July and was battling for the lead until he was swept up in a last-lap crash while running in the top five.
  • LaJoie wasn’t the only driver to record a career-best finish on Sunday. Ty Gibbs finished ninth, besting a 10th-place result at Michigan International Speedway in 2022.
See also
The Underdog House: Corey LaJoie is Making Atlanta His New Home

Saturday Synopsis

  • Austin Hill led 103 laps in his NASCAR Xfinity Series win at Atlanta on Saturday (March 18), the most laps led by a single driver through three races of the new Atlanta configuration.
  • Hill joins elite company in Busch and Mark Martin as the only drivers to win three of the first five races in a Xfinity Series season.

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  • Christian Eckes’ win at Atlanta was the first for McAnally-Hilgemann Racing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
  • Eckes broke a winless drought dating back to September 2021, and with finishes of third, sixth and first, he finds himself as the points leader after three races.
  • There were four races in 2022 that Eckes would’ve won had they ended at the scheduled distance. He came away empty-handed in all four overtimes.
    • He avenged those defeats by taking the lead and the win from Nick Sanchez in overtime.

Up Next: Circuit of the Americas

Another party for Chevrolet?

  • 2021 had a mix of teams, drivers and manufacturers out front, but it was the Hendrick Motorsports duo of Elliott and Kyle Larson that powered ahead in the final stage. They finished 1-2 when rain cut the race after 54 laps.
  • Last year’s race at Circuit of the Americas was dominated by Ross Chastain, who led 31 of the 69 laps. His Trackhouse Racing teammate Daniel Suarez won stage one and led the first 15 laps of the race before trouble relegated him to 24th. The only other significant leader was the Ford of Austin Cindric, who led 11 and came back from a late spin to finish eighth.
  • Chevrolet has won 15 of the 17 road course races since August 2019. The only non-bowtie to win? Christopher Bell, who is currently second in points.
    • Given Chevrolet’s red-hot start to the season, it would be a shock to see none of its cars contend this weekend.

What are the odds of a road ringer winning?

  • COTA will get a boost in the form of 2007 Formula 1 champion Kimi Raikkonen, 2009 F1 champion Jenson Button and 24-time IMSA winner Jordan Taylor.
    • Raikkonen will drive a third car for Trackhouse, Button will drive Rick Ware Racing’s No. 15 with Stewart-Haas Racing support and Taylor will sub for Elliott at Hendrick.
  • It’s been a long time since the days of the road course ringers of the late 1990s and early 2000s. In those days, drivers were able to contend for top 10, even top-five finishes. That changed in the 2010s decade as the Cup Series field grew accustomed to the tracks.
  • But a difference between COTA and the 2010s is that all three drivers are with contending teams. Raikkonen will suit up for a team that won this race a year ago while Taylor will drive for a team that has been the gold standard on road courses since 2019.
  • It may be a long shot, but all three have the potential to make noise toward the top of the scoring pylon.

No stage cautions for the first time since 2016. What changes?

  • With no scheduled cautions, the teams will have to thoroughly plan pit strategy for the entire race.
  • With the ability to pit before the end of the stage gone, the frontrunners will no longer have to sacrifice stage points in order to have a chance at the win.
  • Long green flag runs – longer than the stages could permit – may occur, and that will allow the fastest teams to achieve hefty gaps on the rest of the competition.
  • As the first race with zero scheduled cautions in over six years, listening to driver feedback afterward will be paramount.

Stay Tuned

The Echopark Automotive Grand Prix will take place on Sunday, March 26 at 3:30 p.m. ET. The race will be broadcast on FOX.

About the author

Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch, and his weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” Stephen also writes commentary, contributes weekly to the “Bringing the Heat” podcast and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage. A native of Texas, Stephen began following NASCAR at age 9 after attending his first race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Follow on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.

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