NASCAR Barometer: Logano Wins Bump and Run at Darlington

NASCAR Barometer: Logano Wins Bump and Run at Darlington

This article is part of our NASCAR Barometer series.

It looked like William Byron had Sunday's race at Darlington Raceway in the bag in the final laps until Joey Logano quickly closed the gap and popped the Hendrick Motorsports driver in the rear to take the lead and win. Logano put his car on pole Saturday and went on to win the opening stage and lead a total of 106 laps on the day for the win. It was his first of the season and reduces the number of playoff spots available to nonwinners to just six. While his aggressive driving will undoubtedly ruffle some feathers, the extra attention isn't anything he isn't already used to, having survived multiple feuds with other drivers throughout his career.

Just one race remains before the championship takes a one-week break for NASCAR's All-Star Race weekend. Every winless driver will hope to put his car in Victory Lane this week at Kansas Speedway so he can relax and enjoy the All-Star festivities without the championship pressure weighing on minds. Kyle Busch is the defending winner of the spring race while Kyle Larson went to Victory Lane there in the fall.

UPGRADE

Joey Logano – Logano started from pole and kept his car right there through the  first stage to take the segment victory. That quickness stuck with him throughout the race distance, too. In the final laps, he tracked down Byron and bumped him heading to the final lap to retake the lead and score his first win of the season. It was

It looked like William Byron had Sunday's race at Darlington Raceway in the bag in the final laps until Joey Logano quickly closed the gap and popped the Hendrick Motorsports driver in the rear to take the lead and win. Logano put his car on pole Saturday and went on to win the opening stage and lead a total of 106 laps on the day for the win. It was his first of the season and reduces the number of playoff spots available to nonwinners to just six. While his aggressive driving will undoubtedly ruffle some feathers, the extra attention isn't anything he isn't already used to, having survived multiple feuds with other drivers throughout his career.

Just one race remains before the championship takes a one-week break for NASCAR's All-Star Race weekend. Every winless driver will hope to put his car in Victory Lane this week at Kansas Speedway so he can relax and enjoy the All-Star festivities without the championship pressure weighing on minds. Kyle Busch is the defending winner of the spring race while Kyle Larson went to Victory Lane there in the fall.

UPGRADE

Joey Logano – Logano started from pole and kept his car right there through the  first stage to take the segment victory. That quickness stuck with him throughout the race distance, too. In the final laps, he tracked down Byron and bumped him heading to the final lap to retake the lead and score his first win of the season. It was Logano's first victory at Darlington and was met with a mixed reaction from the crowd because of his aggressive move for the victory. Byron did not have kind words for the former champion following the race, and fantasy players will want to keep an eye on that rivalry as it develops. Logano has three Kansas wins, with the most recent coming in the fall of 2020. He also led 22 laps in a ninth-place finish there last fall.

Tyler Reddick – Sunday was another second-place finish for Reddick, his second of the season. The speed is there to put Reddick in Victory Lane, he just needs some luck to get across the line. He now has four top-fives and five top-10s this season and will feel like a victory is imminent. He has two top-10s from five starts at Kansas with a best finish of seventh, which happened to be in last year's spring visit. Continuing to run inside the top 10, grabbing those top-fives and runner-up finishes when they present themselves is exactly what Reddick and his Richard Childress Racing team needs to be doing to get themselves to finally seize that long-awaited victory.

Ross Chastain – Chastain continued his momentum straight into Sunday's race at Darlington. He was a top-five car from the beginning and ultimately got out front to drive away to win the second stage. It was the second stage win of his career, which fit nicely with his two race wins this season. Unfortunately, on the start of the final stage while racing Denny Hamlin, he got loose and spun into the inside wall and immediately out of the race. It was a quick and unexpected end to what was a very promising day for the team and him. Chastain has made six starts at Kansas, earning a best finish of 13th last fall, but fantasy players should not pay much attention to his past track statistics, given his current speed and confidence.

William Byron – Byron sported a Jeff Gordon throwback paint scheme Sunday at Darlington and almost pulled off a Gordon-like move by taking the car Victory Lane. With just a handful of laps to the finish, Byron held an advantage over over a second, but Logano closed the gap quickly. In the final laps, Byron really struggled with grip, and the gap evaporated with Logano punting the No. 24 machine in the rear. Byron bobbled with the contact and bounced off of the outside wall, giving up the lead and losing another spot to Reddick. Byron regrouped to finish third but was steaming at Logano's aggressive driving afterward. Fantasy players should expect this rivalry to continue in the future and perhaps produce more fireworks before the season ends.

DOWNGRADE

Brad Keselowski – Keselowski was the first driver to encounter trouble Sunday afternoon. Just a few laps after the start, two cars ahead bobbled, and as those behind checked up, it was Keselowski who was nudged from behind and sent spinning to the inside wall. The abrasive surface flattened multiple tires and left Keselowski limping to pit road, trying to minimize the damage to his car. Despite the incident being early enough for him to have most of the race to recover, he hit the outside wall late in the second stage, causing significant damage. Keselowski is likely needs a victory to get into the playoffs. He has two prior wins at Kansas and has led laps in each of his last seven races there.

Kurt Busch – A miscue on the first trip to the pits saw Busch stranded in his pit box without a rear tire. The team, thinking quickly, stopped him from leaving as the jack dropped, but the extra time getting the car back up and the wheel on dropped him to the back of the running order. After working his way back into the top 10, he was collected in a crash on a restart with less than 50 laps remaining. The incident started when Martin Truex Jr. slipped up ahead. Busch was rammed from behind and sailed nose first into the inside wall and out of the proceedings. It was his third finish 30th or worse in the last five races. Kansas has been a pretty decent venue for Busch. He's scored 13 top-10s and five top-fives from 32 career starts. He finished fourth in the fall race there last season, leading four laps.

Kyle Larson – A spin late in the first stage while racing Kyle Busch at the front of the field dropped Larson to the rear of the field. The pair were racing inside the top five when Larson simply lost control with Busch on his outside fender. The Hendrick driver kept the car off the wall but paid a penalty with the premature loss of that set of tires. The bad times didn't end there, however. After a charge back into the top 10, his car began to falter and sent him to pit road and out of the race prematurely. Luckily, Larson has a win this season and is comfortable in the playoff standings. He won at Kansas from pole last fall. He also led 322 laps in the last three races there. He will likely be one of the early favorites to win despite his Darlington dismay.

Kyle Busch – Busch was one of the fastest cars as Sunday's race at Darlington got underway. He raced at the front of the field, battled for the lead, and looked like he was set to have a competitive day. Late in the second stage, Keselowski struck the outside wall ahead of him, and Busch was left with nowhere to go. The two cars collided and the contact broke Busch's front wheel. The damage left the car unable to turn, and Busch abandoned the car at the entrance to the garages. Despite the unlucky circumstances, Busch should be confident heading into this week's race. He is will be the defending winner at Kansas and knows he had a fast car at Darlington. Last year's Kansas win was his second victory at the track from 28 starts.

Martin Truex Jr. – Another Darlington victory was starting to take shape for Truex. He had been running among the leaders all afternoon and had nice track position on a late restart with less than 50 laps remaining. That was where the wheels came off. Truex slipped a little in the first turn after the restart and slowed. As cars passed him on both sides, he lost control after contact with Ricky Stenhouse Jr., triggering a nine-car crash that took a number of cars out of the race. Pressure will only increase as the season wears on without a victory for the former champion. Only one race remains to get that done before the All-Star weekend. Truex has won twice at Kansas and finished in the top 10 there in each of the last five races.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

Kevin Harvick – Harvick extended his streak of Darlington top-10 finishes to 13 with his fourth-place finish in Sunday's race. Earlier in the weekend, it didn't look like that streak would survive after he qualified a lowly 35th. Instead, Harvick made no mistakes and methodically moved forward throughout the race distance to claim his third top-10 finish in as many races and his second top-five of the season. Harvick is now 13th in the playoff standings, fourth among the nonwinners. With just six spots remaining to make it on points, the pressure to win will only be growing, but Harvick should feel confident given his ability to consistently pick up top-10s at the moment. This week could be good for him, too. He has three prior Kansas wins.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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