3 keys to Joey Logano's first victory of the season at Michigan
Joey Logano won a series-high six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in 2015, but until Sunday had been winless in the first 14 Cup points races of this season.
That all changed under chamber of commerce blue skies in the Irish Hills of Michigan, where Logano put it all together to win the FireKeepers Casino 400 in his No. 22 Team Penske Ford.
Logano held off a determined charge from rookie Chase Elliott to power victory. Finishing third was Kyle Larson, followed by Logano's teammate Brad Keselowski and 2014 series champ Kevin Harvick.
With the win, Logano is again virtually assured of a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the sanctioning body's 10-race, season-ending playoff round.
There have now been 10 different winners in the first 15 races of the year.
Here's how Logano made it to Victory Lane.
STAY OUT OF TROUBLE -- Several of the top contenders got into early troubles in the race, which eliminated them from contention.
Coca-Cola 600 winner Martin Truex Jr. spun on Lap 46 after making contact with Clint Bowyer. That damaged the hood on Truex's Furniture Row Racing Toyota, which was very bad news at a track this aero-sensitive.
Seven laps later defending series champion Kyle Busch suffered a rare engine failure in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, making it four races in a row in which Busch finished 30th or worse. Toyota officials blamed trash on the grille for causing Busch's engine to overheat.
Then, on the restart on Lap 62, Chris Buescher drifted up off the bottom lane into Dale Earnhardt Jr., who in turn hit AJ Allmendinger, with the cars of Earnhardt and Allmendinger both hitting the wall and suffering heavy damage.
TRACK POSITION -- Logano qualified on the pole, which gave him the critical No. 1 pit stall. And Team Penske made the most of it getting Logano out front or near the front on every pit stop.
All told, Logano led 138 of 200 laps in to win. He was the clear class of the field, with his starting position and his pit stall playing key roles in keeping him out front.
NAIL THE RESTARTS -- Logano dominated the restarts throughout the race. The key one came with 48 laps to go, when Elliott took the green in front, but lost three positions on the restart.
Logano took the lead on that restart and never trailed again.
He had to make another perfect restart with seven laps to go after a caution for Denny Hamlin's crash.
Once again, Logano nailed it perfectly as he scored the 15th race win of his career.