In the NASCAR Cup Series’ first dirt race since 1970, Team Penske’s car #22 driver Joey Logano started tenth, was sixth after Stage One, led after Stage Two, and maintained the position at the front until the chequered flag on lap 253 of the Food City Dirt Race at the Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. What is shaping out to be one of the best NASCAR seasons ever saw it’s seventh different race winner after the opening seven races.
Martin Truex Jr, who won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on the same track earlier in the day, led the majority of the opening laps in the Cup Series race as well. He kept first position for 126 laps – the most of any driver today. Mexican driver Daniel Suarez was impressive all day too and took over from Truex Jr in the second stage for 58 laps.
The final fifty laps of the race saw a fun battle between Logano and Denny Hamlin, who has yet to score a victory. Hamlin was unable to pass the #22 car early in the last stage and, following a caution that caused a restart for a shootout to the finish, Hamlin eventually took a corner too high on the track and lost second place to Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
2018 Cup Series winner Logano celebrated his 27th career victory. Stenhouse Jr achieved his best position of the year, crossing the finish line second. Hamlin finished in third place for the third time this year and continues to lead the Drivers’ Championship without a victory in his pocket. Suarez did not finish in the top five all of last season but got to enjoy fourth place today. Ryan Newman spun early in the race but recovered enough to get back into the top five.
Race results; top 10 finishers:
- Joey Logano
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr
- Denny Hamlin
- Daniel Suarez
- Ryan Newman
- William Byron
- Tyler Reddick
- Ryan Blaney
- Erik Jones
- Chase Elliott
Drivers’ championship after 7 races; top 16:
- Denny Hamlin – 327 points
- Joey Logano – 269 points (1 win)
- Martin Truex Jr – 247 points (1 win)
- Kyle Larson – 242 points (1 win)
- Brad Keselowski – 232 points
- William Byron – 228 points (1 win)
- Ryan Blaney – 226 points (1 win)
- Kevin Harvick – 225 points
- Chase Elliott – 211 points
- Christopher Bell – 186 points (1 win)
- Austin Dillon – 186 points
- Michael McDowell – 183 points (1 win)
- Kyle Busch – 183 points
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr – 180 points
- Kurt Busch – 173 points
- Alex Bowman – 172 points