Race Weekend Central

Tracking the Trucks: Joey Logano Stomps the Field on Bristol Dirt

Joey Logano had an absolute stranglehold on the Craftsman Truck Series field at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday (April 8), winning his heat, the pole, both stages and the race on the half-mile dirt track. If that wasn’t dominant enough, he led all but 12 laps and no one was really able to challenge him for the win.

ThorSport Racing teammate Ty Majeski finished second and William Byron, making his first of three starts in Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 51, finished third. Matt Crafton finished fourth with Grant Enfinger finishing right behind him in fifth.

See also
Joey Logano Dominates, Wins 2023 Bristol Dirt Truck Race

Top Storylines of the Race

  • Dean Thompson returned to the track for the first time since his scary wreck at Texas Motor Speedway just one week ago. TRICON Garage tweeted after Texas that Thompson would need clearance from NASCAR to return to the track, which he got before the weekend started.
  • Norm Benning made his first Truck Series start since 2021 after performing well enough in his heat race to qualify himself into the show. He told Frontstretch that he had a goal of finishing top 10, and while he didn’t quite achieve that, he was able to bring his self-owned No. 6 home in 24th.
  • With the impossibility of painting a choose cone on the track, NASCAR debuted the “Choose Drone,” a drone that hovered over the track with an orange box light that served as the point in which drivers choose which lane they restarted in. It looks like something straight out of Mario Kart and it served its purpose well.
  • Left-rear tire failures were an issue for most of the night, with several drivers suffering from the same fate throughout the night. Tyler Ankrum perhaps suffered worst from it, as he was forced to pit before the race even began to change a flat tire and did not start the race with everyone else. He was taken out in an accident that brought out the second caution of the night.
  • Some drivers who encountered multiple issues throughout the night included Tyler Carpenter, Ben Rhodes, Chase Purdy, Kris Wright and last week’s winner Carson Hocevar. Carpenter was involved in the most incidents, with four different cautions involving the No. 41.
  • Logano’s Team Penske Cup Series teammate, Ryan Blaney, served as the spotter of Logano’s No. 66, therefore earning his first career win as a spotter.
  • Similarly, Ryan Vargas, typically behind the wheel, served as a crew member for his Truck Series team, On Point Motorsports, where he handed driver Tanner Carrick fresh water bottles and anything else he might have needed.
  • The driver of the race was Kaden Honeycutt, who was a threat to win in his previous start at Atlanta Motor Speedway before mechanical issues left him out of contention. Honeycutt came flying through the field in heat four, finishing third behind Crafton and Rajah Caruth. He accumulated enough passing points to start the race third, a career-best for him and his team, Roper Racing. Then, after contending in the top five for the early stages of the race, he brought his No. 04 home a very respectable ninth, earning stage points along the way. A great effort all around for the part-time driver and team.

Heating Up

Before the race, qualifying was set in typical dirt fashion, by virtue of heats that were set by qualifying order. Four heats were held to determine the starting order, but unlike the Duels at Daytona International Speedway that set the Daytona 500 starting grid or the heats that set the Busch Clash at the Coliseum order, the lineup was set by passing points that were earned every time a driver passed another.

Logano’s No. 66 surprisingly was a go-or-go home truck, as Majeski’s owner points from when he drove the No. 66 last season were transferred to Hailie Deegan’s No. 13 for the 2023 season. The heats were all won by Rhodes, Stewart Friesen, Logano and Crafton won the heat races, however Zane Smith started on pole due to having the most passing points.

See also
Zane Smith Wins Pole for 2023 Bristol Dirt Truck Race

When the heats were completed, five drivers went home, Andrew Gordon, who started on pole for heat four; Jerry Bohlman, Gordon’s G2G Racing teammate; Josh Reaume, in his self-owned truck; Jessica Friesen, Stewart’s wife, who has still yet to qualify for a Bristol dirt race in three attempts in a second Halmar Friesen Racing truck, the No. 62; and Lawless Alan, who picked up a surprising second DNQ of the season after making every race last year.

What’s even more surprising is that if Alan’s No. 45 had just a few more points in the owner standings, it would have been Daniel Dye who failed to qualify instead, as the GMS Racing No. 43 is just eight points ahead of Niece Motorsports’ No. 45.

Championship Rundown

A Cup driver win means nobody new locks themselves in to the playoffs. However a low-finishing effort from Smith (21st) allowed Majeski to open up his regular-season points lead. Chase Purdy currently holds the 10th and final playoff spot over Tanner Gray by just one point with a lot of racing left to go.

Rookie Report

Because of the heats, there will be two Rookies of the Race. The Rookie of the Heats goes to Caruth, who dueled with Crafton for most of heat four before narrowly finishing second to the veteran. The Rookie of the Main goes to Jake Garcia, who continues to shine in his McAnally-Hilgemann Racing ride, quietly staying out of trouble all night to finish a solid sixth.

Garcia sits second in the rookie standings, just 30 points behind Nick Sanchez, despite missing the season opener.

No. 2 – Nick Sanchez (18th)
No. 7 – Jonathan Davenport (14th)
No. 17 – Taylor Gray (34th)
No. 20 – Stefan Parsons (36th)
No. 24 – Rajah Caruth (11th)
No. 30 – Tanner Carrick (26th)
No. 32 – Bret Holmes (20th)
No. 35 – Jake Garcia (sixth)
No. 41 – Tyler Carpenter (29th)
No. 43 – Daniel Dye (22nd)
No. 66 – Joey Logano (Winner)

Author’s Note: For 2023, this section of the article classifies a Truck Series rookie as drivers who have made less than 10 career Truck Series starts at time of race weekend (unless they are competing for Rookie of the Year). Bristol was Logano’s ninth career Truck Series start; therefore, he is classified as a rookie to maintain consistency in this section.

Paint Scheme of the Race

This weekend has been the toughest so far with deciding the best paint scheme, which is a good thing, as it means this weekend has been the best with paint schemes.

However, much like the rest of the weekend for the series, it’s Logano who wins over them all.

According to Logano in his post-race interview with FOX Sports 1, Hang 10 Car Wash reached out asking about a potential one-off opportunity for this race, which led to a call to ThorSport, who is already running the No. 66 in nine additional races with Connor Jones, so they had the equipment and manpower to run a fifth truck.

Boy, everybody involved made the most of that opportunity, as that sweet-looking blue and purple truck is now a Bristol winner.

One Thought About This Race

Tanner Gray has found some sort of stride this season, as he now has three top 10s in six races. His eighth-place finish at Bristol was largely due to a strategy play during the stage one caution, where he, Matt DiBenedetto and Bret Holmes all stayed out to gain track position. It definitely benefitted Gray the most, as he was the highest finisher of the three.

Gray could become the flagship driver of TRICON with younger brother Taylor and Thompson’s struggles. However, Gray’s consistency has left a lot to be desired. Sure, he has three top 10s, but his other three finishes are 13th, 24th and 27th, respectively. Last season, he started out hot with three straight top 10s, but was wildly inconsistent and finished 15th in the final points standings, and 2023 looks to be no different.

Gray is in the midst of his fourth full-time season with the team, all of which have had some level of inconsistency. With newcomer Corey Heim expected to be (and currently, statistically is) the best driver of the team, Gray has got to make a statement as the veteran of the team to prove that Heim isn’t the only driver who can carry the TRICON banner.

If that doesn’t happen, David Gilliland might have to make a choice between which Gray, if any, drives for the team in 2024 and beyond.

Where to Next?

Elbows up, boys – a grandfather clock is on the line.

The Truck Series heads to Martinsville Speedway for the Long John Silver’s 200 on April 14. Byron is the 2022 winner, however his three-race schedule with KBM does not include Martinsville, so he will not defend his victory. Race coverage will begin at 7:30 p.m. ET and can be found on FOX Sports 1.

About the author

Frontstretch.com

Anthony Damcott joined Frontstretch in March 2022. Currently, he is an editor and co-authors Fire on Fridays (Fridays); he is also the primary Truck Series reporter/writer. A proud West Virginia Wesleyan College alum from Akron, Ohio, Anthony is now a grad student. He is a theatre actor and fight-choreographer-in-training in his free time. 

You can keep up with Anthony by following @AnthonyDamcott on Twitter.

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