Joey Logano, driving the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang for Team Penske, is the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series winner at the LA Memorial Coliseum, capturing a historic victory over a hard-charging Kyle Busch.
Sunday’s event in Los Angeles, California, was another page in the history books for the sanctioning body, marking the first time the series has raced on a quarter-mile facility in nearly half a century.
Further adding to the prestige of Sunday’s event, was the competition debut of NASCAR’s Next Gen car, the culmination of the sports work over the last couple of years, put on display for all to see.
…and it didn’t disappoint.
While Logano was able to make the final pass for the lead on a restart with 35 to go, Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Toyota Camry was able to stay within close proximity, keeping the Team Penske driver on his toes.
“I can’t believe it. We’re here. The L.A. Coliseum. We got the victory with the old Shell/Pennzoil Mustang,” Logano said in a post-race interview with FOX Sports. “This is an amazing event. Congratulations, NASCAR. Such a huge step in our industry to be able to do this put on an amazing race for everybody. I’m out of breath. I was so excited about this. This is a big win. My wife is having a baby tomorrow, our third one, so a pretty big weekend for us.”
After a major struggle in practice on Saturday, Logano was able to rebound to a fourth-place qualifying effort in single-car time trials, allowing him to hold track position and take the victory in Heat #4.
“Paul and Shaggy and the engineers do a great job,” Logano continued. “The guys working on the car did an amazing job finding speed when we were slow. We were 28th or so on the board yesterday and made some good changes – worked with our teammates – Ryan Blaney a lot. I owe a lot to him, too, to see some of the gains that they made and ultimately get the win.”
The 31-year-old was able to hold back the advances of Busch, and even put some distance on the two-time champion amidst lap traffic, winning by a margin of 0.877 seconds. Austin Dillon was able to finish in third, after struggling with his car throughout most of the weekend.
Erik Jones scored a fourth-place result for the newly-formed Petty GMS Motorsports – a merger of Richard Petty Motorsports and NASCAR Truck Series team GMS Racing — will the series’ defending champion, Kyle Larson, rounded out the top-five.
William Byron, Cole Custer, Christopher Bell, AJ Allmendinger, and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-10 finishers in the 150-lap event, which, to the surprise of many, only featured five cautions and only three for on-track incidents.
Tyler Reddick, who started on the outside of the front row, looked to be one of the fastest cars on the track, but suffered a mechanical issue under the race’s first caution, relegating him to the infield and a 21st-place finish.
Denny Hamlin, Chase Briscoe, and Ryan Preece all suffered mechanical issues and were forced to retire from the event. Justin Haley also retired from the event early, after a phenomenal top-five run, after retaliation from reigning series champion, Kyle Larson.
With the first NASCAR Cup Series event of the season complete, the series will now move onto the official start of the season, the 2022 Daytona 500, which will take place on Sunday, February 20th on FOX.