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Race report
NASCAR Cup Darlington

Joey Logano punts Byron from lead, claims Darlington Cup win

Joey Logano ran down William Byron and nudged him out of the way with one lap remaining to claim his first NASCAR Cup Series win of the 2022 season.

Byron had moved into the lead for the first time on Lap 268 of 293 but as the final laps ticked down, Logano was quickly gaining on the leader.

With one lap remaining, Logano pulled up right behind Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet entering Turn 3, bumped him from behind and up the track to grab the lead.

Byron ended up hitting the wall on the final lap and Logano held off Tyler Reddick by 0.775 seconds to win Sunday’s race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, snapping a 40-race winless streak.

Logano’s most recent Cup win came at the Bristol Dirt Race last March. It was also the 28th win of his career.

“Yeah, you’re not going to put me in the wall and not get anything back,” Logano said of his run-in with Byron. “That’s how that works. Man, super proud of (my) team getting a victory here in Darlington. I’ve never won here in a Cup race before.

“So proud of this race team. Great execution all day long. I’ll tell you what, the coolest thing is getting this car into Victory Lane. This is the car (paint scheme) where it all started for me back in '95 in a Quarter Midget. Really, honestly, all the young kids racing out there right now, this could be you.

“I’ve got Silver City Quarter Midget Club on the back, all the cool things that went along with this car, and we got it into Victory Lane. It just means so much to me.”

Justin Haley ended up third, Kevin Harvick fourth and Chase Elliott was fifth, after having to start the race from the rear of the field.

Completing the top-10 were Christopher Bell, Michael McDowell, Ricky Stenhouse, Austin Dillon and Daniel Suarez.

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Stage 3

Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, the lead-lap cars all pit with Denny Hamlin the first off pit road. The race returned to green on Lap 195.

Coming off Turn 2 on the restart, Ross Chastain got loose racing side-by-side with Hamlin, spun and slammed into the inside retaining wall, ending his race.

The race returned to green on Lap 200 with Hamlin out front followed by Logano.

Logano quickly powered by Hamlin on the restart to reclaim the lead.

On Lap 209, Hamlin was able to get back around Logano to return to the top spot as Logano dropped to second and Byron moved to third.

On Lap 222, Elliott – who started the race from the rear of the field in a backup car – passes both Bell and Suarez to enter the top-five for the first time in the race.

Another round of green-flag pit stops got underway on Lap 228 with Alex Bowman and Harvick both hitting pit road.

Once the cycle of stops was completed on Lap 247, Reddick – who pit well before everyone else – emerged as the leader followed by Logano, Byron and Stenhouse.

Bowman slammed into the Turn 2 wall on Lap 255 to bring out the eighth caution of the race.

All the lead-lap cars pit with Logano the first off pit road. Austin Dillon was penalized for speeding on pit road and had to restart from the rear of the field.

The race resumed on Lap 261, with Logano out front followed by Reddick, Byron, Martin Truex Jr. and Stenhouse.

Truex checked up coming off Turn 2 on the restart, which triggered a multi-car wreck that also collected Kurt Busch, Hamlin, Bubba Wallace, Erik Jones, Chase Briscoe and Cole Custer.

 

The race returned to green on Lap 268, with Logano out front followed by Byron and Reddick.

Byron powered to the lead off Turn 2 after the restart as Logano dropped to second and Reddick remained in third.

With five laps remaining, Byron maintained about a half-second lead over Logano as Reddick ran third.

Stage 2

Chastain easily held off Truex on a late restart to take the Stage 2 win, his second stage victory of the 2022 season.

Logano was third, Hamlin fourth and Byron rounded out the top-five.

Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, the lead-lap cars all pit with Logano once again first off pit road.

The race returned to green on Lap 97 with Logano out front followed by Kyle Busch, Chastain and Truex.

On Lap 112, Kyle Larson suddenly fell off the pace and limped onto pit road under green. On his team radio he reported he thought he had lost the engine on his No. 5 Chevrolet.

“I definitely rolled backwards some (in his earlier spin), that was my concern but they said it didn’t have anything to do with it,” Larson said. “Our car was super good today, it’s a bummer. Hate we won’t get the finish we deserve.”

With 60 laps remaining in the stage, Logano held about a second lead over Chastain as Kyle Busch ran third, 1.3 seconds behind the leader.

Hamlin and Wallace kicked off a round of green-flag pit stops on Lap 134. Once the cycle of stops was completed on Lap 139, Truex led the way followed by Reddick and Logano.

On Lap 160, Reddick pit under green after reporting a vibration on his No. 8 Chevrolet. He returned to the track a lap down and in the 27th position.

Chastain got around Truex on Lap 166 to take the lead for the first time in the race.

On Lap 167, Brad Keselowski pounded the wall coming off Turn 2 and then drifted into the path of Kyle Busch, doing extensive damage to both cars.

 

All lead-lap cars pit with Chastain the first off pit road. Ty Dillon was penalized for a safety violation on his stop and had to restart from the rear of the field.

On the restart on Lap 175, Chastain led the way followed by Truex, Hamlin and Logano.

Stage 1

Logano held off a late charge from Chastain to take the Stage 1 win, his first stage victory of the 2022 season.

Bell finished third, Kyle Busch fourth and Truex rounded out the top-five.

Logano started on the pole but Larson wasted no time jumping out front to lead Lap 1.

On Lap 3, Keselowski spun off Turn 2 to bring out the first caution of the race. After stopping on pit road for repairs, Keselowski returned to the race one lap down.

Larson remained in the lead when the race resumed on Lap 8.

NASCAR displayed a competition caution on Lap 32 to allow teams to check tire wear. All the lead-lap cars elected to pit with Logano the first off pit road.

During the stops, Kurt Busch’s team had difficulty securing the left-rear tire on his No. 45 Toyota. Also, Elliott was forced to make a second stop for a loose wheel.

Logano led the way on Lap 36 when the race returned to green followed by Larson and Kyle Busch.

On Lap 46, Kyle Busch went to the inside of Larson and moved into second behind Logano.

Larson spun in Turns 3 and 4 on Lap 55 while trying to pass Kyle Busch for third place. The lead-lap cars pit with Logano the first off pit road.

When the race returned to green on Lap 60, Logano led the way followed by Kyle Busch, Chastain and Bell.

After running side-by-side for two laps, Kyle Busch finally got around Logano on Lap 62 to take the lead for the first time in the race.

Logano caught Kyle Busch to reclaim the lead on Lap 80 and Chastain followed him to move into the second position.

B.J. McLeod, Harvick and Hamlin (unapproved adjustments) and Elliott (backup car) all had to start the race from the rear of the field.

 

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