FORT WORTH, Texas — Joey Logano had a big lead and was within a half-lap of taking the white flag at Texas.
The late caution and extra laps? They just made his victory Monday in the rain-delayed Sprint Cup race that much more exciting.
With a last-lap pass of Jeff Gordon in NASCAR’s version of overtime, Logano became the seventh different winner in as many races this season, with new rules for the championship Chase putting an increased emphasis on winning.
Logano had a 2.2-second lead on teammate Brad Keselowski while closing on in the white flag that would have guaranteed no extra laps. Then came out the caution for debris on the track after Kurt Busch went into the wall.
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“My heart dropped,” Logano said. “When you’ve got like 40-something laps after the last pit stop and a pretty sizeable lead, all you’re thinking is where’s the white flag, where’s the white flag,” he said. “Then you go into Turn 1, and you see the 41 up against the wall, please, no caution.”
On the ensuing pit stop, Gordon took only two tires and exited first. Both Team Penske drivers took four tires, but Keselowski missed a chance to become the season’s first two-time winner when he was penalized for speeding on pit road and finished 15th.
“I was just trying to get a little too much on pit road. … Tried a little too hard,” Keselowski said. “We’re in it for wins. We’re not in it for second.”
On a restart at lap 262, Logano quickly pulled his Ford away from the field and had a nearly five-second lead before his last green-flag stop. After the green-white-checkered restart on lap 339, Logano went inside past Brian Vickers and quickly got behind Gordon’s No. 24 Chevrolet that had only two fresh tires. Heading onto the frontstretch, Logano went low and was able to get past Gordon going into the first turn.
Kyle Busch finished third, ahead of Brian Vickers and rookie Kyle Larson.