BRISTOL, Tenn. – Joey Logano believes he has the car and Team Penske believes they have the team to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
Logano took the lead from Matt Kenseth with 44 laps remaining and scooted to his third Sprint Cup victory of the season in Saturday’s IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“We can win the championship. We’ve showed it at every kind of race track. We’ve just got to keep doing it,” said Logano, 24, who held off his Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski in the final laps. “What a year we’re having. I’m having so much fun. The past six or seven races have been unbelievable.”
Logano has finished no worse than sixth in any of the last five races but took special pride in winning at the track known as the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile.”
It was a big weekend for both Penske and Ford Racing with Keselowski winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event in a truck he owns, Ryan Blaney winning for Penske in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race and Logano and Keselowski finishing 1-2 in the main event.
“I think we’re legitimate threats to win a championship this year and I’m proud of that,” said Keselowski, the 2012 Sprint Cup champion and the ‘old man’ of the group at 30. “To have all three drivers win races, I think that’s a testament to how bright the future is. I think the results speak for themselves. We’ve just got to keep rolling.”
It’s also the first time that Ford Racing has swept a NASCAR weekend series since 2006 when Mark Martin won in truck and Kenseth won both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races at Bristol. Ford’s nine Sprint Cup victories this season are its most since 2008 when it won 11 times.
Like Logano, Keselowski has three victories this season.
Saturday, Logano had fresher tires than Kenseth, who elected not to pit under caution when he took the lead from Jamie McMurray during the race’s ninth caution which came out on Lap 433 of 500.
McMurray remains one of a handful of drivers who now need a victory at either Atlanta or Richmond to have any realistic chance of making the Chase.
Clint Bowyer (17th) and Greg Biffle (10th) remained on the positive side of the points bubble for non-winners. Kyle Larson (12th) trails Biffle by 26 points and Kasey Kahne is 33 points behind Biffle for the 16th and final Chase spot.
Kahne Led 40 laps but suffered recurring issues with his right front wheel and finished 35th on Saturday. Denny Hamlin, who ended up 40th, was as upset as Kahne was disappointed.
Hamlin was leading the race when Kevin Harvick sent him spinning on Lap 162. Dale Earnhardt Jr. side-swiped Hamlin on the way by, putting both Hamlin and Earnhardt (39th) behind the wall and ending promising runs for both.
Harvick led the first 37 laps from the pole but finished 11th. Jeff Gordon, shooting for a third consecutive victory, finished 16th while his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson overcame a pair of early-race speeding penalties to finish fourth.