BROOKLYN, Mich. – On a day where track position was everything, Joey Logano found himself in perfect position to score his first victory for Penske Racing during Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan Int’l Speedway.
Logano started from the pole and spent a great deal of time at the front of the pack throughout the course of the day, but fuel strategy and caution flags are what put Logano in position to win on Sunday. Logano was the leader when Kyle Busch crashed on lap 157 in turn two, setting up a series of pit stops.
While Logano and most of the leaders came down pit road, a handful of other drivers opted to not pit. Brad Keselowski, Logano’s teammate, was among those that didn’t pit and ended up with the race lead for the restart on lap 163.
Keselowski, looking for his first victory of 2013, was hoping for several caution flags to help him stretch his fuel to the finish. He was able to hold the lead during the restart, but the caution flag waved on lap 173 when Kyle Busch went for a second spin.
This time Keselowski and his team decided not to risk running out of gas and pitted for fuel. That gave the lead to NASCAR veteran Mark Martin, who was using the same strategy as Keselowski. Behind him was Kevin Harvick in second, with Logano lingering in third.
During the restart on lap 179 Martin quickly pulled away into the lead, with Logano diving low onto the apron on the front stretch to take second from Harvick. The top three continued in that order, with Martin trying to save fuel when possible.
With the laps winding down Martin and the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing team knew they were going to run out of fuel without one more caution flag. That caution flag never came and as Martin was coming down the backstretch with four laps left his Toyota slowed, giving Logano the race lead.